The Best Japanese Sydney Has to Offer (Sashi-Me Please!)
Like those of Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, the Japanese food scene in everyone’s favourite Harbour City is thriving with both quality and variety. So, now it’s time to celebrate that fact and raise our chopsticks in celebration of the best Japanese Sydney has to offer.
If you’re lucky enough to have visited Japan, you’ll know that restaurants there choose to specialise in one kind of food. They do one thing and they do it insanely well.
With this in mind, we’ve picked out destinations that, while admittedly might have an eclectic menu, focus on one particular Japanese dining speciality.
You’ll find everything from modern izakayas and ramen joints to luxurious sushi experiences and teppanyaki. Get amongst!
Best Japanese Restaurants in Sydney
Tetsuya’s is one of Sydney’s leading restaurants and offers a memorable Japanese fine dining experience amongst an enchanting atmosphere. Led by the skillful head chef Tetsuya Wakuda, this award-winning eatery currently has Two Hats from the Good Food Guide and promises sophistication, high-end flavours and French cuisine inspiration. The set degustation menu costs $240 per person, and is definitely worth saving your pennies for.
Open Tuesday to Friday from 5:30 – 9pm, Saturday from 12 – 2:30pm and 6:30 – 9pm.529 Kent Street, Sydney CBD, Sydney 2000
A rebellious izakaya tucked away in Sydney’s city centre, Kid Kyoto serves modern Japanese food in a slick dining space accessible from Bridge Lane. All the food features traditional flavours from Japanese cuisine, but the way dishes are put together is definitely contemporary. Imagine teriyaki pigs ears in sansho pepper, watermelon sashimi in tamari dressing and poached snapper in koji butter.
Open Monday to Friday from 12 – 10pm, Saturday from 5 – 10pm.17-19 Bridge Street (via Bridge Lane), Sydney CBD, Sydney 2000
Sydney is becoming quite packed with ramen joints (up their with the best ramen in Melbourne if you ask us) but our favourite is RaRa Ramen in Redfern. While the space is modern and hip, the umami-rich ramen on offer here is authentic. The culinary team at RaRa make both the broths and the Hakata-style noodles fresh in house every day, with these guys clearly appreciating the artistry behind a bowl of slurpy ramen goodness. There’s always an inventive weekly special going, but you can never go wrong with their chilli tonkatsu or pork shoyu.
Open Monday to Friday from 12 – 2:30pm and 5:30 – 9:30 or 10pm, Saturday from 12 – 10pm, Sunday from 12 – 8:30pm.66B Regent Street, Redfern, Sydney 2016
Kobe Wagyu BBQ
As their name suggests, Kobe Wagyu BBQ is a restaurant that specialises in Japanese BBQ and offers a premium selection of marbleised Wagyu beef. It’s a divine, melt-in-your-mouth experience eating top-graded Wagyu here and guests at this George Street eatery are invited to cook it themselves on built-in grills at tables. There’s also a good selection of fresh seafood for grilling, as well as sushi, sashimi and a few other dishes.
Open Monday to Friday from 12 – 3pm and 5:30 – late, weekends from 12 – late.605-609 George Street, Sydney CBD, Sydney 2000
While there’s already a few izakayas on our list, Izakaya Fujiyama definitely deserves a mention. The vibe here is great – fun, welcoming and laid back – and the restaurant has One Hat from the Good Food Guide, so you know the quality is sound. What sets them apart though? Answer: their huge range of sake and Japanese whisky, just what you’d expect from an authentic izakaya in Japan.
Open Monday to Wednesday from 6 – 10pm, Thursday to Saturday from 6 – 11:30pm38-52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills, Sydney 2010
Cho Cho San
One of Sydney’s darling eateries, Cho Cho San is a contemporary restaurant in Potts Point that’s all about reimagining Tokyo-style izakayas. The seasonal menu here is up the same alley as normal izakaya food – think sashimi, snacks like chicken karaage, tonkatsu curry, donburi and more. Yet the food all has a refined edge and the dining space is definitely not izakaya inspired. Instead it’s bright, spacious, industrial and chic.
Open Monday to Thursday from 5:30 – 10pm, Friday and Saturday from 12 –11pm, Sunday from 12 – 10pm.73 MacLeay Street, Potts Point, Sydney 2011
Jugemu & Shimbashi
Jugemu & Shimbashi is an inviting neighbourhood eatery that specialises in two areas of Japanese cuisine – Osaka-style okonomiyaki savoury pancakes and handmade soba noodles. You’ll find this restaurant’s dining space, located in Neutral Bay, split into two. Guests can dine in the upbeat jugemu teppanyaki area for okonomiyaki, or instead the soothing traditional shimbashi area for soba.
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 12 – 2pm and 6 – 9:30pm, Sunday from 6 – 9pm.246 Military Road, Neutral Bay, Sydney 2089
Juan Bowl & Tea
The name is somewhat of a giveaway, but Juan Bowl & Tea is a delightful spot that offers donburi bowls and artisan tea. The food menu is short and sweet, offering four or five options like Wagyu beef, grilled unagi eel, sweet pork tonkatsu and seared chicken served over koshihikari or 12-grain rice. All the dishes come with a matching tea recommendation, which is a nice touch, or you can speak with the knowledgeable staff and select your own.
Open Wednesday from 6 – 10pm, Thursday to Sunday from 12 – 3pm and 6 – 10pm.94A Pitt Street, Redfern, Sydney 2016
Alongside RaRa Ramen in Sydney’s competitive ramen scene is Chaco Bar, a restaurant in Darlinghurst that serves some seriously delicious noodles during lunch service. Yet we love these guys even more for their juicy yakitori available at dinner. It’s high quality and expertly cooked over the charcoal grill. Think organic pork belly, pink-centered chicken liver, Wagyu tongue with anchovy butter and silky miso eggplant. These guys are very popular, so book your table in advance.
Yakitori hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30 – 10pm. Ramen hours are Monday evenings, Tuesday to Saturday lunch from 11:30 – 2:30pm, and Sunday all day.238 Crown Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney 2010
Saké Restaurant & Bar
With a number of branches now established, Saké Restaurant & Bar from the Rockpool Dining Group has earned a solid reputation for serving modern Japanese cuisine. They have three restaurants in Sydney and the reason they made our list is because of their sashimi selection. Other eateries also do impressive sashimi, but Saké do a very wide variety of fish, shellfish, crustaceans and roe. There’s also interesting raw ceviche starters like kingfish with pear, charred corn, jalapeño and lemon miso; or salmon, snapper and scallop with hot sesame oil and ponzu.
Miyama Japanese Kitchen
As mentioned, we’ve largely chosen Sydney’s best Japanese based on the dedication to specialising in one type of food. However, we now break that mould and recommend Miyama Japanese Kitchen in Newtown. Because sometimes all you’re after is a reliable spot with good value dishes and an all-round menu – and this top King Street restaurant offers just that. Lunch service is dedicated to bento boxes, udon noodles, ramen, donburi and Japanese curries, meanwhile dinner service is all about sushi, sashimi, tempura and tasty side dishes.
Open Monday to Friday from 11am – 3pm and 5 – 10pm, weekends from 5 – 10pm.87 King Street, Newtown, Sydney 2042