Yokai TTDI -Japanese Restaurant & Hidden Bar (2023)

Yokai TTDI

Words: Jacob Weber
Photos: Rich Callahan

Yokai TTDI simply has to be one of the most stylish speakeasies in KL.

The stunning interior design – a collective effort from the team without professional intervention – cleverly, creatively, and seamlessly blends a funky modern Tokyo aesthetic with traditional Japanese artwork. From the neon signs to the (real) samurai swords, there’s something in the atmosphere in this secluded TTDI bar – literally.

‘Yokai’ means ‘strange apparition’ – a class of supernatural entities in Japanese folklore. Some are shapeshifters, some have no fixed form; some are malevolent, others benevolent. We like to imagine there are several spirits in residence at Yokai TTDI, mischievous and mysterious, playful and beguiling. (Or is that just the feeling after sampling several of the resident alcoholic spirits?)

There’s no signage, and only a subtle entrance to this second-floor speakeasy – ‘apparition’, indeed. And in true speakeasy fashion, the magic hides behind the mundane. Stepping into Yokai TTDI feels like you’ve stumbled into a private member’s room for Tokyo’s urban elite. Top-shelf Japanese liquors gleam in their glass bottles behind the stylish cocktail bar. (There’s an 18-year-old Yamakazi for RM20,000, if you’re interested.) A bonsai tree sits atop the traditional teppanyaki counter. A life-size samurai statue stands guard in the corner. It’s fascinating.

In fact, there are two private rooms available: Samurai and Sakura. Both fit eight people, and both are beautifully decorated, with massive murals and traditional paintings illuminated by a soft neon glow. There’s even a one-way mirror in Samurai overlooking the staircase, so you can keep a watchful eye on unsuspecting arrivals, like a feudal-overlord-slash-Tokyo-gangster.

Samurai has low, comfortable seating with a karaoke set-up; Sakura features high table seating at the private teppanyaki grill. Sometimes, Yokai TTDI will host exclusive omakase menus personally served by a Japanese chef.

Speaking of food, it’s time for us to take a seat at the teppanyaki counter and study the ‘kuishinbo’ section of the menu – which translates as “a person who loves to eat”. Accurate.

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Teppanyaki & Fusion Food Menu – Yokai TTDI

If I hadn’t given it away, Yoka TTDI’s food focus is teppanyaki; prime cuts of Japanese and Angus beef, tender chicken, and succulent seafood. The menu also features fusion food favourites with some classy touches, such as the Wagyu Fried Rice (RM38) or Miso Glaze Beef Ribs (RM98).

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We start with the Miso Soup (RM18). It’s a lovely bowl of comforting umami goodness, everything you want and hope for in a miso soup. The Chicken Gyoza (RM28) offers a chewy, crispy counterpoint, served with togarashi (Japanese chilli pepper) chives and caramelised onion.

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The Wagyu Satay (RM78) is our first taste of the premium Japanese beef that Yokai TTDI is so proud to serve – and it does not disappoint. It’s charred perfectly, and comes with a dashi aioli and the in-house teriyaki sauce, both of which complement the tender, juicy beef very nicely.

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Next up, sandwiches. But these are no ordinary sandwiches; this is elevated finger food, presented beautifully in a stunning vintage emerald-green lunchbox. The Wagyu Katso Sando (RM98) and Chicken Katsu Sando (RM48) are both delicious – this is like a proper premium packed lunch.

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I’m not much of a gambler, but I will bet that the Wagyu Pasta (RM78) will become a firm favourite on the main course menu. Eringi mushrooms, teriyaki cream and truffle oil all lift the wagyu fat to dance on the palate rather than drown it. It’s not too rich, but still creamy and indulgent, with mouth-watering morsels of wagyu beef nestling in the silky-smooth pasta noodles.

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We switch proteins for a second, and try the Teriyaki Braised Lamb Shank (RM88). I don’t need a samurai sword – this meat is so tender I can cut it with my spoon. It’s a classic dish done very well, with creamy mash potato and hearty root vegetables on the side. A lotus root garnish adds a little touch of local flavour.

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Next up, it’s the show wereallycame to see, and we have a front-row seat. Head Chef Fiqri fires up the Teppanyaki grill, and we choose Seafood (RM98/200gm) and – you guessed it – Wagyu (RM198/180gm). The highlight is the house special truffle sauce, made freshly in front of you on the grill and then poured over your platter immediately before serving. It’s a lovely touch, and just adds that little extra dimension to the entertaining experience.

The seafood platter comes with scallops, salmon, and prawns, with some shiitake mushrooms for an earthy, well-rounded balance. The wagyu is everything you’d want it to be; quality meat, perfectly cooked. Of course, everything goes very well with the truffle sauce.

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Craft Cocktails

Now, we haven’t been washing these dishes down with water, obviously. Yokai TTDI’s master mixologists have crafted some very creative cocktails inspired by Japanese culture and a few personal touches. The Yes-Ser (RM70) is named as a homage to the owner, for example. It’s a twist on the traditional Old Fashioned, with more sweet and bitter notes than the typical sour. Premium whisky is mixed with agave, Fernet-Branca, and apple cider. It’s served in a smoky dome and presented with relish. The smoke gives a real kick to the dehydrated orange peel that hits you in the face (well, tickles your nostrils) as you take the first sip.

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For God Sake (RM68) might be one of my favourite pun-based cocktail names that I’ve found so far. Selected sakes are mixed with yuzu purée, Dom Benedictine liqueur, fresh dragon fruit and lemon juice. The dragon fruit gives it a bold, vibrant purple colour, which matches the neon signs nicely. It’s a great cocktail, but be warned – it’s so smooth that you can hardly taste the sake (in the best way possible). So, pace yourself!

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From Paris to Yokai (RM58) is a creative, Instagram-feed-friendly cocktail, served in a funky glass with a cute candy floss and blow-torched marshmallow garnish. Rum is stirred with Parisian fruit syrup and fresh lemon. The candy floss represents the clouds on the Paris-Yokai journey, which is a very sweet touch – literally and metaphorically. It tastes like it looks; sweet, but not too cloying or overwhelming.

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For our final round, and according to The Yum List tradition, Mon asks the bartender to put together their version of a Negroni – and we certainly couldn’t have expected what arrived next. The Gin Rose (off-menu; RM48) mixes gin and vermouth with vanilla syrup and served with a curious ‘caviar’ – which is the cocktail mixture cleverly converted into bouncy little boozy bubbles. Tip the caviar into your glass, and it’s like boba tea for grown-ups. Full marks for creativity. It’s sweet and quite fragrant, with a rose gin infusion for some floral aroma and a touch of pinkness.

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We finish with a tray of Blow Me Up shots (RM200) from the Banzai Shots menu – Yozai TTDI’s take on the popular shot with a similar, R-rated name that I won’t include in this wholesome, family-friendly write-up. Great way to finish, though – wink, wink.

Yokai TTDI Review

From the food to the furniture, the drinks to the decor, everything at Yokai – right down to the authentic uniforms on the friendly service staff – is crafted with flair, technique, and an obvious burning passion for the Japanese culture which inspires every inch of floor and wall space. Whether you’re going for a few drinks or a full-blown meal, you’re practically guaranteed a good time – and there are enough interesting artefacts and hidden touches to keep you coming back to explore more. It’s a little corner of Tokyo in a little corner of TTDI, and you’ll love it.

Reasons to visit Yokai TTDI: Stunning, stylish Japanese classic-and-contemporary design; creative cocktails with premium liquor; top-shelf, limited-edition Japanese spirits; outstanding teppanyaki experience; fusion food menu with some high-end touches; awesome private rooms.

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Yokai TTDI
25, First Floor, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 7
Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+6 03 7733 3030

Yokai TTDI Opening Hours

Tuesday-Sunday: 6pm-late
Dinner RSVP: 6pm-9pm
DJ Nights: 9pm-late, according to schedule/subject to change.

Find moreKL bar recommendations here,and stay up-to-date on the latest gourmet and travel happenings around Malaysiahereandhere.

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