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Apurva Kempinski Bali’s Japanese Restaurant ‘Izakaya by Oku’

Bali Update's John Daniels recently visited the 5-star Apurva Kempinski Bali and enjoyed supper at 'Izakaya by Oku'. Below he shares his dining experience with www.balidiscovery.com .

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Like a beautifully choreographed Kabuki dance-drama performed by well-trained actors, a dinner at the Apurva Kempinski Bali’s ‘Izakaya by Oku’ delights as guests interact with chefs and service staff who enchant diners with exotic taste combinations, revealed, as in a play, course-by-course.

Minimalist in its exquisitely simple interior, ‘Izakaya by Oku’ is inspired by the award-winning OKU Restaurant Jakarta that reigns arguably as the Capital’s best Japanese eatery located at the Kempinski Bali's sister-hotel at the Jakarta Welcome Circle.

Japanese kiche in the form of wall-mounted Kimonos, Samurai swordswarrior helmets, and plasticized Ikebana displays are thankfully all banished from a setting that is as dynamic and as welcoming as its open-kitchen design. In keeping with this open and accepting layout, chefs and waiters unobtrusively mix with guest eagerly explaining ingredients and preparation methods.

Caution is warranted, however, when interacting with Izakaya’ s “Sake Sommelier”.  Be warned that he will tempt you to try one of his uniquely delicious concoctions, and then one more, and then …oh hell, I lost count.


During my visit, the Sommelier welcomed me with a bourbon-based drink served in a crystal glass that was pre-smoked in burnt coffee and cinnamon and served with a charred stand of wheat. Unsure that any drink could actually be that good, I had three.

The highlights of my recent visit were an opening course of Karasumi - Angel Hair pasta served with two types of roe bottarga and ikura. Next on deck was Kaisen Chawan Muchi – a delicious traditional egg custard delicately flavored with prawn, chicken, ginko nut and a rare and expensive form of exotic water-lilly - junsai. The main course was Truffle Gyu Don – chargrilled Wagyu beef served on a bed of Japanese rice accented with truffle sauce and onsen egg, a soft-boiled egg that derives its name from its original preparation method of slow-cooking in a Japanese onsen hot spring. These slices of tender beef were partnered with Aka Miso – a red miso soup containing shimeji mushrooms and soft-textured tofu.

Like a well-presented Kabuki Play, the final course was sublime consisting of Mizu – a gelatin-based dessert resembling a large, delicate raindrop. Originally from the prefecture of Yamanashi, this deceptively understated dessert shined with its flavor accent of an anmitsu - a sweet bean black syrup and shimeji - roasted whole soy flour.

‘Izakaya by Oku’ is located just steps away from the Apurva Kempinski’s basilica-like “must-see” lobby. Currently open only for dinner from 6:00 pm until 10:30 pm.