Berkeley >Restaurants >
2100 Ward St, Berkeley, CA | Directions 9470537.859286 -122.266717
Tue-Fri 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm
Neighborhoods: South Berkeley
What a treat to find an excellent neighborhood restaurant like Kirala.
Kirala is not just another good Japanese restaurant and sushi bar. Kirala has one-of-a-kind sushi creations and delicious specialties from Robata grill that you will not find anywhere else. For 15 years, it's been consistently voted one of the Best Japanese restaurants, where loyal patrons spend a relaxed evening ordering tasty appetizers and main dishes, while enjoying Japanese beer and premium sakes from Japan.
Greasy & bland – I absolutely LOVE Japanese food, but this place doesn't do the cuisine justice. The sushi was totally bland. The eel pieces just tasted like cooking oil--yuck!--and the green beans with tempura were soggy. The food was just totally lacking that bright, fresh flavor and texture that makes Japanese food delicious. I am giving them two stars because the food wasn't HORRIBLE--it just wasn't very good either. I did find the service very friendly and efficient, though.
AVOID – This place is not worth your time. With such great reviews online my partner and I were excited about having dinner here. Let down is an understatement. The wait was estimated at 30 minutes but we waited almost 2 hours for our table. With no lobby or place to stand, this put our evening off to a bad start. Once we sat down the service was so so and the sushi was NOT good. After leaving I became sick and threw up. Today my partner is sick in bed thanks to bad sushi.
decent food. expensive, and long wait. – took an hour and a half to be seated, others who had come later then us were seated first and we had to keep reminding them that we were there. when we were finally seated they had messed up my order and my friends. When we tried to tell our waiter he did not understand. He had brought me the nigiri combination when i had ordered the sashimi combination. Then the hostess came over and fixed our order but when the sashimi mix had come it was a very small portion for the price. Not to mention on the menu it said which fish it came with and when they brought it to me there was no salmon, and thats the main reason why I get sashimi is for the salmon. When i asked where it was they said that they were out, but they could have told me this before i ordered. everytime i go it is a very long wait, and it is not worth it at all. I recommend man puku on college avenue where its more of a casual restaurant but prices and food is great!
Japanese food?I don't think so. – I can't understand why they are famos.....taste was very bad.
If you like this restaurante,You don't know Japanese food.
Unique menu to the area, but difficult dining experience. -really difficult. – *The menu at Kirala is unique to it's area, (East Bay) so I'd say they have a bit of a captive audience syndrome. Customers flock from miles around to enjoy well reviewed sushi and noodles at this large and convenient location. I've been there a few times for lunch, but not yet for dinner, And I have to say, it's really not worth the headache.
If you want to know the truth about the crowds outside their doors, I'm happy to give it to you. 1) They're only open for a small window at lunch time; reopening for dinner a bit later. 2) They seem to have a large following of regulars, who will be expedited to the top of the waiting list and will get your table if you make the mistake of standing outside, or sitting on the railing out of the way of the busy wait staff. 3) If you have managed to make it in for lunch, once you sit down, you may be there for a while. While the menu is vast, a guessing game with your server must ensue, before you can place an order for food. Apparently all the great sushi specials, and many standard sushi selections as well, are being saved for the dinner crowd and not made available to lunch time diners. They can't tell you what you can have, you just have to keep trying until they say yes.
Overall: sushi is fresh, noodles good, -maybe a tad tricky, but any eager restaurateur would do well to open a sushi/noodle place right across the street with the same fare, offering honest straight forward service, seating or standing room for customers to line up and a clear lunch menu and a clear dinner menu. The tyranny of the Kirala rule over Berkeley would be over.
It's good, but... – I just don't think it's as good as people say. I've eaten my fair share of good Japanese food, and this is in slightly above average range. The sushi is by far better than anything else I've had in Berkeley, but again I don't think that's saying all that much. Been here several times, and it's usually pretty crowded. Never sat there, but there's a group table in the back, next to the bathrooms if you like that...
Here's my one bad experience. Ordered one of the grilled fish items. I'm not a picky eater, but it came out like fish jerky. There's a time and place for a good, dry smoked fish, but this wasn't it. What made it really bad is that the waitress tried to defend the place by saying that this was how the fish came out, even though other restaurants that make a similar dish make it moist and flakey. That was honestly her justification. For a good 2-3 minutes she went on about it, and then the same thing when she came back with another item we ordered. Pretty comical...
Pathetic experience, overpriced for what you get – My girlfriend and I have been here twice, we just ate here for lunch recently and tried to order a shrimp tempura roll but the waitress told us it wasnt on the menu. Thats weird... we had it last time for dinner. Oh well, we ordered our meal and began eating. During the meal, a middle aged man to our left making small talk with the sushi chef asked about a shrimp tempura roll. The two sushi chefs glance at one another and give eachother a conspicuous nod as one reaches behind the counter and pulls out what appears to be a piece of shrimp tempura. Befuddled, my girlfriend and I sat there and watched the sushi chef make and serve the man what appeared to be a shrimp tempura roll, after we were told it wasnt on the menu. We asked the man sitting next to us, "is that shrimp tempura?" Dumbfoundedly, he gives us an exasperated "uhhh" then looks to the sushi chef and asks "what is this again?" The sushi chef informs us that yes infact it is shrimp tempura, to which we responded "can we get one of those then?" The chef looks at us and says its not on the menu and that we cant order it. The man clearly wasnt a regular, it was lame that we knew the chefs made a shrimp tempura for the man next to us yet refused to make one for us. The sushi is overpriced for what you get, not worth the time or money for service like that. We left a few cents for the tip and vowed to never return. I suggest you never return either.
Pretty darned good. – Let's start by saying the sushi was really good - I've had tastier tuna poke but it was still tasty. The high-points were the sushi & a special, braised short ribs - absolutely delish. I also liked the minced chicken appetizer but it wasn't a favorite at our table. The definite downers were the asparagus wrapped w/beef & the garlic beef - the vegis w/this dish were excellent but the beef was very dry (it was dry w/the asparagus as well). Service was good and nice. We got there early (about 6p) and it was pretty packed but we got seated immediately. I will go again and try a noodle dish as every one we saw looked amazing.
Mmmm... – The food at Kirala is so good that it overcomes the wait. The fish is nice and fresh, the robata dishes are nicely prepared, not drenched in teriyaki sauce like a lot of places around here; just basted on. Speaking from a Japanese guys point of view, this place is very good, and i know whats good and whats not. Trust me, haha.
Not to mention the nice selection of sake too. Try the "Koshi-no-Kanbai." Very good but expensive, but why not splurge once in a while right?
Come here for the quality food... – but don't expect a quiet, romantic setting. Been coming here for years. This place has excellent sushi and people wait for up to an hour to get it. It's not a large restaurant so it's crowded and often loud. Sometimes louder when someone's been hitting the (very nice) sake bar. Can't emphasize the quality enough! Always fresh, delicious fish that is well-prepared. Service isn't the most attentive but they are friendly and again, you won't care after your first taste. It's wins Best Of for a reason!
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