Who does the best salmon nigiri in Sydney? Find out for yourself by working your way through our guide to the best Japanese restaurants in the city.
Japanese cuisine is so much more than sushi and sashimi – but let’s face it, that’s a pretty good start. If your experience this far is limited to a cooked tuna roll from your local sushi takeaway, then you’ve got some discovering to do.
Best Japanese restaurants in Sydney
- Address: 12 Argyle St, The Rocks
- Opening Times: Lunch (Monday to Sunday 12pm - 3pm), Dinner (Monday to Saturday 5:30pm - 11:30pm, Sunday (5:00pm - 10:00pm)
- Facebook: Sake Restaurant & Bar
Located in the heart of The Rocks, you can’t go past Sake for contemporary Japanese fare plated up like mini works of art. They’re also the go-to guys for all your sake-related questions, so if you’ve never given much thought to Japanese rice wine, now might be the time.
- Address: 9-15 Bayswater Road, Potts Point
- Opening Times: Monday to Sunday, midday to late for lunch and dinner
- Facebook: Harajuku Gyoza
Anyone who’s been to Tokyo’s fashion district of Harajuku will recognise what the owners are doing here. Noisy, bustling and a whole lot of fun, this is Japan recreated like nothing else, right down to the overly complex Japanese toilet. Gyoza comes in both sweet and savory form and you can wash it down with a Kirin beer on tap. No bookings, just roll up and give it a go.
- Address: 529 Kent St
- Opening Times: Lunch (Saturday from 12pm), Dinner (Tuesday to Friday from 6pm, Saturday from 6:30pm)
- Website: Tetsuya’s
No guide to Japanese cuisine in Sydney could ever be complete without a Tetsuya’s mention. At $220 for an alcohol-free degustation, it’s not for the every day, but it is for the special occasion; their venue is self-described as a “high temple of gastronomy”. One bite and you’ll see why their accolades include being part of the World’s Best 50 Restaurants.
There’s usually a short wait for a table at Wagaya’s, but it’s worth it once you sit down and order your meal from your table’s individual touch screen menu. Our advice is to treat it like tapas and grab a little of everything to share. As well as the usual Japanese cuisine on offer, there’s a not-to-be-missed deep fried camembert. It might not be healthy, but it’s worth it and you can just offset it with a few slices of sashimi.
Mappen Noodle Bar
- Address: Shop 11, 537-551 George St
- Opening Times: Sunday to Wednesday 11:30am - 10pm, Thursday to Saturday 11:30am - 10:30pm.
- Facebook: Mappen Noodle Bar
Retro in style and prices, Mappen Noodle Bar has people lining up for its authentic, self-service noodle bar. Grab a tray, choose your noodles or rice, sprinkle with toppings and away you go. At $1.50 a pop, they may also be serving the cheapest miso soup in the city and in Mappen’s case, the price does not reflect the quality.
- Address: Level 4, Establishment, 252 George St
- Opening Times: Lunch (Monday to Friday 12pm - 3pm), Dinner (Monday to Saturday 6pm - 10:30pm)
- Facebook:sushi e
For something that’s a little more fancy than your average sushi train, you can’t go past sushi e. Park yourself at the white marble sushi bar and watch as head chef Nobuyuki Ura slices and dices with flair. Sake and cocktails are your ideal companions for this meal, as is a hungry Japanophile.
- Address: 490 Crown St, Surry Hills
- Opening Times: Lunch (Tuesday to Friday 12pm - 3pm), Dinner (Monday to Thursday 6pm - 11pm, Friday to Saturday 6pm - 12pm)
- Facebook: Toko
These guys have just as many fans for their drinks as their food: just watch the number of Lychee and Jasmine Mojitos making their way to thirsty patrons each night. The beautiful space is complemented by stylish dishes and a buzzing crowd; an oldy but a goody, there’s a reason these guys keep the crowds coming back.
- Address: 32 Bayswater Rd, Potts Point
- Opening Times: Lunch (Wednesday to Sunday from 12pm), Dinner (Wednesday to Sunday from 5pm - late).
- Facebook: Crane
Japanese fusion meets Potts Point drinking, Crane has become a one-stop destination for Kings Cross revelers interested in a little more than a cookie-cutter club for their Friday night. Start with the Nikki Stinga whiskey cocktail before creating your own degustation by working through each section of the menu.
- Address: 308 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest
- Opening Times: Lunch (Thursday to Sunday from 12pm), Dinner (Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm)
- Website: Waqu
There are two ways to experience Waqu: in the casual Kappo Dining section, where you can sit at the bar and order a few dishes off the small eats menu to share, or in the Fine Dining section, which is all about the six or eight course degustation menu. It’s not all sushi and sashimi, either - a wagyu sirloin steak and a roast saltbush lamb cutlet are both on the menu.
Niji Restaurant and Bar
- Address: 21 Bay Street, Double Bay
- Opening Times: Monday to Sunday, 12pm - 11pm
- Facebook: Niji Restaurant and Bar
A favourite from Kingsford has just opened its doors in Double Bay, cementing it as a Sydney Japanese institution. The menu is designed to be picked at with ease, so grab a few different plates for sharing, or just go the whole hog and order the Omakase degustation of the chef’s signature, seasonal dishes.
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