Where to find the best Clog-approved Japanese food in Berkeley

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Japanese cuisine offers a variety of delicious dishes for you to savor and devour throughout your years at UC Berkeley. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh pieces of sushi or looking for a bowl of flavorful broth and ramen, the food of Japan satisfies all of your college cravings. While it may prove challenging to find some Japanese spots to chow down at amid the plethora of boba shops and pizza joints, here is a list filled with places that are Clog-approved!


2130 Center St. Ste. 101


Featured on the Michelin guide, Ippuku is Berkeley’s haven for yakitori, or grilled chicken skewers. One step into the establishment, and you’ll instantly feel transported by its traditional “izakaya” vibe. Ippuku prioritizes quality, and it’s truly apparent, as all of the restaurant’s chicken is purchased directly from Hoffman Farms, located in Manteca. Order up some of the classic yakitori dishes, such as the chicken thigh, tsukune (chicken meatball) and chicken breast. Bacon-wrapped mochi and squid ink fried rice are great add-ons to any meal. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, ask for the famous chicken tartare garnished with a raw quail egg. Located in Downtown, nestled in between Ben & Jerry’s and The Halal Guys, you’ll almost miss it because of the nature of the restaurant’s low-profile exterior. However, make sure you don’t miss out on the chance for some delectable, fresh chicken and an expansive selection of sake and shochu (if you’re legal, of course)!


2566B Telegraph Ave.


Head over to Kiraku for some of the best Japanese tapas you can find near campus. From fried delectables such as corn tempura and chicken karaage to fresh bites such as yuba (tofu skin, which is paired perfectly with salmon roe and sea urchin), Kiraku offers an extensive menu that covers all of your Japanese favorites. Although the wait for a table on Friday and Saturday nights can last up to an hour or so, the thinly sliced pieces of melt-in-your mouth wagyu beef tataki will make it all worth it. End your night out with the sweet potato brulee. Whether you consider yourself quite the connoisseur of Japanese cuisine or find yourself unfamiliar with most of the country’s dishes, there’s something new and refreshing for everyone to try!


2015 Shattuck Ave.


While Cup Noodles and Maruchan have been satiating the appetites of hungry college students for decades, nothing hits the spot like Ippudo’s ramen. Located in 13 different countries, it’s safe to say that Ippudo is a smashing success among ramen lovers everywhere. The restaurant’s fragrant and savory pork broth will make you instantly forget about the package of instant noodles sitting in your cupboard. The line that extends outside the restaurant may seem daunting, but it’s guaranteed to go by quick thanks to the hospitable staff.


2126 Dwight Way


With a happy hour menu on Tuesday through Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Musashi is a great spot to hit up if you want tasty food at college budget prices. The happy hour includes karaage for $6 and five pieces of sashimi for $8 — a steal! The restaurant’s chawanmushi (a steamed egg custard dish) is a delicious choice of an appetizer to start your meal — it is more than meets the eye with its incorporations of chicken, shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, spinach and fish cake. Then, try the chirashi if you’re looking to taste the freshness of the restaurant’s assortment of fish and salmon roe. The amazing quality of Musashi is bound to have you coming back for more.


1830 Fourth St.


Iyasare prides itself on using simple, locally sourced ingredients, and you can truly taste it in the food. Each dish is beautifully plated, and the restaurant’s elegant ambiance makes your experience all the more enjoyable. The “ocean umami” is a hit among customers with its mouthwatering fusion of Hokkaido scallop, ikura and sea urchin. The restaurant’s menus change for lunch and dinner, which gives you all the more reason to head back over. While Iyasare may be on the pricier side for students, each dish is guaranteed to bring the wow factor with the right amount of flavoring and exemplary quality.

If you find yourself getting bored with the food options available outside your doorstep, trust me: You’re not alone. However, you don’t need to travel far to find some great Japanese gems. There’s a multitude of great eateries right at your fingertips for you to explore and treat yourself to throughout the school year! Each of these restaurants emphasizes the importance of quality that’ll continuously amaze your taste buds. And, hey! Next time your parents ask whether you’re eating properly at college, you’ll be able to send them a pic or two of your yummy meal (an unexpected bonus)!

Contact Erika Lee at [email protected] .