japanese food sydney

Sydney’s Best Japanese Restaurants

Sydney is full of delicious Japanese restaurants, but which one should you choose? Fear not – I’ve put together a list of my favourite places to eat Japanese cuisine in the city. Whether you’re looking for sushi, ramen or teppanyaki, there’s something on this list for everyone! So without further ado, here are Sydney’s best Japanese restaurants. Enjoy!

If you're looking for a delicious and authentic Japanese dining experience, Sydney is definitely the place to be. However, it can be tough to know where to start with an impressive selection of quality Japanese restaurants. To help narrow down your search, we've put together a list of the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney guaranteed to leave you satisfied. 

There's something for everyone on this list, from traditional sushi joints to modern izakayas! So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next Japan-inspired culinary adventure today!

The Best Japanese Restaurants In Sydney Right Now

sydney japanese food

Sydney’s Japanese food scene has always been alive and well, but it’s absolutely thriving these days.  

Whether you’re salivating over sashimi, searching for saké or needing nigiri, Sydney’s inner-city suburbs are peppered with an authentic, new world and fusion-style Japanese restaurants to satiate your taste buds. From Surry Hills to Potts Point and down the pebbled alleyways of The Rocks, here are 16 of the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney.

Kisuke

After decades of training and working in kitchens around the world, from Tokyo and Amsterdam to London and Sydney, chef Yusuke Morita finally settled in Potts Points to open up Kisuke in 2020. Teaming up with his wife, Mirota's restaurant offers just six seats for a genuinely intimate sit down omakase dining experience ($200), showcasing a lifetime of passion for and experience with traditional Japanese cuisine. Expect soups, sashimi, grilled and steamed dishes, as well as plenty of sushi to pair with sake and whisky. Keep an eye on their Instagram and book online here.

Nobu Sydney

Hidden within the glittering Crown Sydney tower at Barangaroo, Sydney's very own Nobu is a spot to sample the famous fine-dining Japanese dreamt up by legendary chef Nobu Matsuhisa. For the unacquainted, the world-renowned chef kicked off his career studying Japanese cuisine at Matsuei before shifting to Peru to open his own sushi bar. Here, he found inspiration in the local culture and native Peruvian ingredients, developing an entirely new spectrum, which is now called “Nobu style”. 

It’s not hard to see why Nobu is one of the most famous Japanese restaurants in the world. Even if you’re not a fan of fusion food, you can’t help but be impressed by the perfectly executed plates that span Japanese and Peruvian cuisine predominantly, with a touch of everywhere else. Whether you’re dining in New York, Milan or Sydney (Nobu number 43, to be exact), one thing remains the same, the mis-glazed black cod, which has charmed critics since the 80s. Sushi and sashimi remain a highlight, as do the tacos loaded with luxe toppings like lobster and wagyu beef. 

There are now 42 Nobu restaurants around the world, and Sydney is the third Aussie iteration (Melbourne and Perth beat us to it). At Nobu Sydney, you'll get to try iconic dishes like black cod miso and yellowtail jalapeño, alongside some fresh ideas like pan-fried scallops with yuzu truffle and lobster tempura with tamari honey, with the menu, divided into "Nobu Classic" and "Nobu Now". Running the show in Sydney is head chef Harold Hurtada and head sushi chef Sanghhyeop Kim, and if you're keen to get the full Nobu experience, we highly recommend going all-in with the Omakase menu, a seven-course experience you'll savour for weeks, and months, and years to come.

Pro tip? You'll want to plan your Nobu night well in advance—the restaurant has been booked out for months. Oh! And make sure you order the "whisky cappuccino" for dessert. 

Chaco Ramen And Chaco Bar

Based on the yakitori restaurants in Fukuoka, Japan, Chaco Bar in Darlinghurst is home to some of Sydney’s best ramen. That might sound like a strong claim, but ask around, and the consensus is that this Darlinghurst den is serving up the best in the biz. As for what makes Chaco such a unique place to dine, director Keita Abe says it’s “because of the amount of thought and care we put into everything we do. From the menu to décor—Chaco represents Japanese culture in a way that is true to itself and doesn’t try to be anything else.” 

Chaco Bar Potts Point's sister venue doesn't serve broth a little further east. Instead, the Potts Point outpost specialises in Yakitori dining, meaning chargrilled skewers are the main event. On the sticks, you’ll find everything from chicken, lamb, and pork to ox tongue, hearts, and gizzards meaning nothing is wasted, and everything is put to good use. Dishes are cooked over cherry blossom charcoal and basted in Japanese seasonings giving them a rich, smoky flavour. The sake here is bought from an endless rotation of small, family-run makers in Japan, packing out their extensive drinks list of shochu and whisky. Excellent stuff all round. 

Haco

Fresh from the same team that brought Sydney Chaco Bar and Chaco Ramen above (chef Keita Abe and ex-Sasaki head chef Kensuke Yada), Haco is a pint-sized 12-seat omakase dedicated almost entirely to tempura. Housed within a concrete cube at the Surry Hills end of the CBD, it's a first of its kind in Sydney, where the sheer theatre of deep-dried deliciousness takes centre stage ("haco" translates to "theatre").

At Haco, you're in for a relatively vague set menu of 20 bite-sized dishes—kept vague because chef Yada likes to really move with what's in season. Expect to sample lightly battered king prawn, lotus root, and—for dessert—banana, alongside braised pork belly, kombu-cured lobster, and bonito sashimi, while you sip sake, Japanese beer, and house-made umeshu and yuzushu. Haco is a super special experience—though you'll want to plan your trip. Being a super small spot, it books out months in advance!

Kaiza Izakaya

From former Chuuka chef Jason Nguyen, Kaiza Izakaya fits in with its Enmore Road neighbours with a relaxed, casual fit-out and a BYO license. But, though Kaiza Izakaya might look the part, the menu really does set it apart from your run-of-the-mill Newtown Japanese joint. Dip into Nguyen's polished take on izakaya favourites like silken tofu in ankake broth, a colourful sashimi platter, spicy pork udon, and gyu don with kombu dashi and teriyaki.

But it'd be a crime to leave without trying Nguyen's more experimental fusion dishes. Like the wagyu nigiri with crispy rice, kizami wasabi, and cured egg yolk. It's a brilliant balance of flavours and surprising textures wrapped into one surprising parcel. The crispy deep-fried eggplant is another of our favourites, with a light crunch, oozing centre and dressed in sweet black miso, chives, and furikake. The blue swimmer crab fried rice with prawn floss is hearty and filling; as is the grilled broccolini with truffle miso and roasted almonds and the rich lamb cutlets with garlic yuzu kosho and yuzu miso. 

Kuro

This compartmentalised Japanese hub is home to four venues in one, like dining in your very own bento box. Choose from four very different dining experiences, including the a la carte restaurant Kuro Dining, degustation-only fine diner Teramoto by Kuro, specialty café Brew Bar, and drink spot Kuro Bar. The main restaurant (Kuro Dining) eschews the traditional sushi and sashimi for a string of modern Japanese snacks and share plates like the wagyu carpaccio with egg yolk jam and a prawn and Hokkaido scallop tart with Black River caviar.

Gogyo

To write this place off as a slurp-and-dash noodle joint would be a huge mistake. Skip the lunchtime ramen rush and return in the evening, when mood lighting transforms the concrete interiors into a slinky backstreet haunt. While you wait for your broth to boil, make a head start on the snacks, which include miso-glazed eggplant, a crackling piggy roll and king prawn guacamole served with deep-fried gyoza skin chips. Ramen ranges from the famous kogashi, a charred chicken soup swirled with burnt flecks to a rich, luscious tonkotsu pork broth.

Sokyo

The omakase menu at Sokyo is designed for Japanese foodies who, like Jiro, dream of sushi. Salmon belly, BBQ freshwater eel, scampi, scallop, prawn and sea urchin sit on seasoned rice that has the telltale feel-every-grain-on-your-tongue precision demanded of the best sushi masters in Japan. If you can’t get a place at the counter, chef Chase Kojima’s a la carte menu in the restaurant is just as impressive. 

Chuuka

Two of Australia’s best chefs, Chase Kojima from Sokyo and Victor Liong from Lee Ho Fook, have joined forces to create an experimental Chinese Japanese fusion restaurant. Serving ultra-luxe food with high voltage flavours, diners can expect dishes like the Eastern Rock Lobster wok-fried in a punchy seaweed broth to tempura chicken drenched in a sticky yuzu sweet and sour sauce. Housed in the old Flying Fish digs, the heritage site has been given a jolt of colour, thanks to inked interiors by local tattoo artist Deepak Munsami.

Saké Restaurant & Bar

saké restaurant & bar

Sexy interiors, showy dishes, and stunning views are just how Sake rolls. This slick operation works just as well for intimate dinners as it does for big groups and boisterous celebrations. Star chef Neil Perry has joined forces with Shaun Presland to create a modern fusion menu, which includes traditional sushi and sashimi all the way through to quirky Asian mash-ups.

Tetsuya's

Tetsuya Wakuda is recognised as the godfather of Japanese fusion in Australia. Behind the sliding electric gate on Kent Street is the culinary temple where a series of rooms, tranquil Japanese garden, and old school silver service deliver quite a special moment. The 10-course degustation may be pricey ($230 per person without wine) but it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try impeccably sourced produce and some outstanding seafood dishes, including the famed confit Petuna ocean trout, that you won’t find anywhere else.

Cho Cho San

The menu at Cho Cho San is far from straight Japanese cuisine. Owners Jonathan Barthelmess and Sam Christie were inspired by the drinking culture on their recent trips to Japan. And they wanted to bring that fun, izakaya-style to the dining room at Cho Cho San. There is a long dining bar, a great cocktail list and food that lends itself to this kind of environment.

The space, designed by architect and interior designer George Livissianis, is minimal and painted cream. The only colour is from the shelves behind the bar, stocked to the hilt with spirits, sake and shochu. There aren’t many wines by the glass, but the sake list is long.

Try raw scallops, with corn, nori puree and house-cured smoked bonito. The rich puree and umami of the bonito let the flavour of the fall-through-your-chopsticks delicate scallops sing.

The pillowy, soft, steamed bun, filled with cucumber and duck smoked in jasmine tea, and the lightly wood-fired bread bun, filled with a spanner crab chowder, needs to be ordered by every diner. The side of dry udon noodles is rich and spicy – like a Japanese bolognese with chilli-bean paste, ginger and pork. The seafood and meat sections are a little more traditionally Japanese. Prawns cooked over the hibachi grill and chicken yakitori with pickled lime and sprinkled with spicy shichimi.

The matcha green-tea soft serve is simple and delicious, tasting exactly like the ones found in many little outlets across Japan. The ginger custard is delicate in texture and flavour, intensely creamy, a sweet ginger glaze on top combines with the custard as you eat.

Raita Noda

Things are a little different at Raita Noda’s self-titled restaurant on Riley Street. Here the chef’s selection replaces the menu, and there’s not a table in sight.

A drastic change from running the 200-seater restaurant Ocean Room kitchen, Raita Noda has space for just eight guests. This allows Noda to focus on the food. And here, everyone sits at the counter. The space is completely open, so you can see everything happening in the kitchen, reminiscent of a narrow Tokyo diner. However, it feels less like a restaurant and more like an open kitchen, so don’t expect white tablecloths or wait staff. Instead, Noda and Momotaro – his son and apprentice – do all the cooking and serving themselves.

There’s no menu, either. Instead, Noda offers omakase (chef’s selection) with dishes changing daily depending on what produce he can source, though seafood is always the hero.

Understandably, bookings are essential. For $120 per person, you can have the full, 10-course degustation. Make sure you allow plenty of time, too – it’s not the kind of dinner you want to rush through. Each dish is made on the spot, so a sitting takes anywhere from two-and-a-half to three hours. Longer if you want to savour every mouthful.

Osaka Trading Co.

Given that Osaka is considered Japan's food capital, we were expecting big things from Osaka Trading Co. — a bar set in the Tramsheds from the folks at Tokyo Bird — and it did not disappoint. The renowned Surry Hills whisky den spread its wings and expanded to this second venue in September 2016, infusing the Bird's core elements into a modern Japanese restaurant, where fresh seafood and a robata grill take centre stage.

The ferociously inviting izakaya is all about balancing your bites and sips — harmoniously marrying food with booze — such is the Japanese way. So you can chase that gulp of Yamakazi with a handful of edamame ($6) or tuck into soy-glazed barramundi ($32) while sipping Hibiki — there are a slew of small plates which pair perfectly with sake or whisky and are just plain oishi. 

The long narrow space, abuzz with vivacious chatter and clicking glass, feels as though it belongs on the neon-lit streets of Osaka's Dotonbori. Bottles of sake line the walls, traditional lanterns emit a warm glow, while Studio Ghibli films are projected on the exposed brick walls — it's a tribute to Japan, and it's not trite but wholly heartening. The venue exudes an effortlessly cool vibe, kind of like Japan, it's ten steps ahead but feels no need to boast.

Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Osaka Trading Co. can quash your Japanese cravings whenever they may surface. Weekday lunches are covered with $15 ramen, while dinner prepares for a multi-plate affair. The izakaya nails the classics — melt-in-your-mouth salmon sashimi ($17) and moist-yet-crispy karaage ($17) — and proves that, to borrow Leonardo da Vinci's aphorism, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

best japaneese food sydney

Zushi Barangaroo

If you love sashimi, you really love sashimi. And if you love sashimi and live in Sydney, chances are you've had a piece or two from Zushi at some point. In addition to restaurants in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, they've also opened at Barangaroo with a striking fit-out courtesy of the acclaimed Koichi Takada Architects. The waterfront space boasts a semi-open kitchen, a dedicated sushi bar and a stunning, all-weather outdoor dining area with room for 106 people — it's bound to be red-hot property over the summer months. There's also a walk-up bar space, where Zushi's resident sake expert can hook you up with a few drops from the extensive range while you're waiting for that table.

In true Zushi style, the modern Japanese fare here strikes a balance between innovation and authenticity, with this menu a mix of favourites, specials, and seasonal dishes unique to the Barangaroo restaurant. You'll find specialty sushi and sashimi alongside an assortment of Izakaya-inspired share plates. The must-order is the seared tuna steak coated in quinoa and sesame with wasabi mash. Backing it up, there's that hefty range of sake, some clever sake cocktails, and an NSW-led wine list, which has plenty of love for biodynamic and organic labels.

Rising Sun Workshop

During Sydney's lockdown, Rising Sun Workshop is selling DIY ramen kits for $40. Each pack gets you two serves, and you can choose between its three signature ramens: The Darkness, The Light and The Monk. Once you've received your broth, garnishes and noodles, you can prepare your own bowl of ramen at home. To order, head to the eatery's website.

Tinker on your motorbike and slurp your way through bowls of ramen on the same premises at Rising Sun Workshop's permanent Newtown digs. Rising Sun is a social enterprise that serves two purposes for the uninitiated. On one hand, it provides its motor-revving members with a communal space for repairing and polishing up their bikes. On the other, it's a café serving coffee, cookies and seriously killer ramen.

The independent organisation was started by three friends who love riding bikes, working on bikes and chatting about bikes while also drinking coffee. They decided that Sydney needed an open, friendly, affordable space where this could happen more often. So, in 2013 they turned to Pozible and ran a crowdfunding campaign, and soon discovering that 160 other people felt the same way. The 90-day campaign raised a cool $40,000.

This gave them enough cash to launch a pop-up. In 2014, they hung out in a "barely legal" space in Camperdown, building an elite Hill Fighter, cooking up ramen and gathering friends.

Needless to say, the finding of a solid, full-time home has come as a major relief. You'll find Rising Sun's new workshop at 1C Whateley Street. It used to house a century-old hardware store, so there's oodles of space.

Also, the menu has scored a serious upgrade. You can now get nosh at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you'll find some Southern influences mixing with the Japanese tradition. One of the new star dishes is a Japanese-style breakfast, served on a tray. It's worth getting up early for.

Busshari

There may be plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to sushi restaurants in Sydney, but few are as simple, honest and authentic as this stalwart in Potts Point.

Dressed in jet black from head to tail, Busshari channels the dark and moody izakayas of Tokyo's late-night dining scene.

The best seats in the house are those at the sushi counter, where you can look eye-to-fish-eye at a cabinet of shimmery fillets, from tiger-striped salmon to snapper, scallops and a crimson strip of tuna, which is snuggled up against its pearly pink underbelly.

The scampi nigari ($14) is the best catch, which sees the creamy, translucent flesh elegantly splayed across a bed of just-warm, lightly vinegared rice. Again, there's no need to add wasabi here, as chef Nobuyuki Ito has done it for you, and he has got the quantity just right — down to the nanogram.

The menu includes sushi rolls, too, with the colourful pinwheels available in all the west's favourite flavours. For the dragon roll ($18), Ito whacks the eel on the robata first and sears it until the fish oils run, and the teriyaki turns to caramel. The roll includes a Sydney-sized portion of avo, which balances the rich, oily unagi nicely.

Skewers also get their turn on the robata, and they're cared for as lovingly as a dad cares for his barbie. Bypass the pork belly ($6) (it's a little chewy) for the chicken thigh yakitori ($5), which is so succulent it's hard to believe it's cooked through.

Crunchy little fried things are also an essential part of a Japanese meal. And at Busshari, they're serving a chook-load of karaage, which extends beyond the humble hen ($11) to include soft shell crab ($10), and school prawns ($10) and whitebait ($10). Then, simply add a squirt of lemon and settle in for the night with some beers.

The drinks list is impressively diverse, with an emphasis on fish-friendly bevvies. There's umeshu, a sweet plum wine, as well as shochu, over 20 sakes, and a fine selection of Japanese whiskies, including cult favourites Hakushu and Yamazaki. Beyond the Asahi and Sapporo, Busshari also offers a matcha green tea beer for the health-conscious boozeh andl as a malty sweet potato ale from Kawagoe.

In the true spirit of Nippon, desserts are small, cute and easy to love. A little pot of pumpkin mousse brûlée ($9) is earth-shatteringly good, the crème filling smooth and savoury with sweetness delivered through its crackable toffee shard lid. There's also a black sesame tart ($9) and green tea panna cotta ($9), which are small, so we suggest ordering both.

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