Ready, Set, Gyoza! The Best Japanese Restaurants in Brisbane
Sushi, sashimi, yakitori, teppanyaki… We can all agree that every aspect of Japanese cuisine is undeniably delicious. And amongst the best Japanese restaurants in Brisbane, you’re bound to find many that tickle your fancy.
We’d put money on it that no one has ever said, “Mmm nah, Japanese eats ain’t my vibe”. Sure, some people have an aversion to raw fish – i.e. sashimi. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy udon noodles or light and crispy tempura. With that in mind, it's a perfect option for Valentine's Day first dates or catching up with fussy friends.
Just like Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, Japanese restaurants in Brisbane have become a solid part of the dining scene in recent years. Be it the countless sushi trains and bars lining the streets, izakayas serving up gyoza and Japanese beers, ramen specialists, teppanyaki grills or fine dining fusion restaurants, Brisbane has really got it going on. The choices are endless, the quality exceptional and the flavour, well, it’s all beyond good.
Brisbane has been a major player in the Australian food scene for quite some time now, whether that’s to grab a great burger, punchy Thai food or Italian food. So it should come as no surprise that top Japanese restaurants can be added to that list.
Ready to roll? Raise your sake glasses and say kanpai (cheers) to these 8 brilliant Japanese restaurants in Brisbane!
The 8 Best Japanese Restaurants in Brisbane
1. Harajuku Gyoza
If you don’t know about Harajuku Gyoza, you must have been living under a very large rock. Taking the city by storm a few years ago (longer than this writer cares to admit), these lively, eclectic and totally wacky Japanese gyoza restaurants are Brisbane institutions. Once you step foot into the venues in Fortitude Valley, Albert Lane, Indooroopilly and South Bank, you’ll rapidly understand why people say they’re the happiest restaurants in Brisbane. Serving up happy dumplings Tokyo izakaya-style with pleeeeeenty of sake, wine and beer, we are huge fans of these joints. Make sure you order at least one sake and one rainbow cake for the table to get the ‘full’ Harajuku experience. Trust us.
Must-try: Open gyoza with slow-cooked pork belly, apple, pickled ginger on crispy gyoza skins.
South Bank: 184 Grey Street, South BrisbaneFortitude Valley: 394 Brunswick, Fortitude ValleyAlbert Lane: 141 Queen Street, Brisbane CBD__Indooroopilly: 322 Moggill Road, Indooroopilly
2. SAIKO Teppanyaki
Located in the Emporium Complex, SAIKO brings the theatrical side of Japanese dining to The Valley. Lively and chic, SAIKO is one of our favourite Japanese restaurants in Brisbane. You can sit back and watch the grill masters light the teppan grill and then grill, flip, slice and dice your meats, veg and seafood, before they literally throw them at you. It’s serious sorcery. There’s knife spinning, grill tapping, drumming and a whole lot of throwing and catching going on here. The result? Delicious, fun and damn memorable. Go here immediately. It’s definitely one of our favourite Ann Street restaurants.
Must-try: Moreton Bay bugs served with vegetable, salad, miso soup and steamed rice.
1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane 4006
No list about Japanese restaurants in Brisbane is complete without a mention of Saké. Hatted and with venues in not only Brisbane but Sydney and Melbourne too, Saké is one of the country’s most revered Japanese dining experiences. The restaurant is located with the other premier spots in the city – Eagle Street Pier – and boasts a chic and elegant space where you’ll be treated to some of the most delicious food going. Distinct, creative, fresh and refined, this is what Japanese cuisine is all about. Treat yourself, it’s worth it.
Must-try: The signature Hiramasa kingfish with coriander infused sweet ponzu, lime and jalapeno koshu.
45 Eagle Street, Brisbane CBD, Brisbane 4000
4. Mitoki Japanese Modern Tapas
Located only a stone’s throw from the Story Bridge, Mitoki Japanese Modern Tapas is modern, in all the right ways. Experimenting with flavours of the east and west, you’ll find everything from Wagyu beef carpaccio and ginger infused pork belly, to sliced duck loin, udon noodles, chicken karaage rolls and teriyaki Caesar salad. Sharing is encouraged here, in true tapas style, so this is the perfect Japanese restaurant in Brisbane to head to with a large group or for a romantic meal for two. Mitoki also has very well-rounded drinks list featuring Japanese sake, Asahi beer, umeshu (plum wine), shochu and Japanese cocktails. All of which wash down the delicious dishes very nicely.
Must-try: Soft shell crab salad with yuzu salsa.
35 Rotherham Street, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane 4169
Hear that delicious sizzle on Elizabeth Street? It could only be KushiMaru throwing epic hot grilled skewers on the flame. In a prime spot in the heart of Brisbane, this culinary gem serves traditional Japanese dishes within a relaxed but fun atmosphere with little Maneki-neko (Japanese lucky cats) waving on. Slide into a booth, pop up on a bar stool (great for a quick bite for one at lunchtime) or grab a table with a live view into the open kitchen. As well as grilled delights, KushiMaru serves super fresh sashimi, tempura fried to perfection, katsu curries and udon soups.
Must-try: Don’t miss out on the restaurant’s specialty yakitori – choose the assorted option for a bit of everything.
G/85 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane City
6. Mizu Japanese
With its casual outdoor terrace, prime riverside location and some of the best Japanese seafood dishes, Mizu Teneriffe is the sort of place we would be happy visiting every day of the week (okay, maybe that’s just our sushi obsession talking). Pinched between two chopsticks, you’ll find a range of sashimi, sushi rolls, tempura prawn rolls, takoyaki, kingfish, crab and soba noodle salad… Yup, this is definitely one for the seafood lovers. Of course, there’s vegetarian and meat options to accommodate every taste-bud at the table. Lunch is a good time here too, with bento boxes, teishoku (set meals) and an a la carte offering. The restaurant is a buzzing hive of hungry diners at all times of the day, indicative of its solid reputation.
Must-try: Sashimi and sushi platter. Easy as that.
2 Macquarie Street, Newstead
7. Bird’s Nest Yakitori
Here’s a Japanese restaurant and bar that seems to be making it onto everyone’s top list. Not surprising, really. There are three Bird’s Nest locations around Brisbane (one doing takeaway only), which means high-quality traditional yakitori is never too far away (phew). Masters in the art of these Japanese grilled skewers, Bird’s Nest prepares them in-house every morning using well-sourced ingredients before cooking them over Binchotan (white charcoal). All the venues are super cool, with contemporary interiors that match the modern takes on classic recipes. The Bird’s Nest On The Run joint inside Toowong Village is known to mix things up with some pretty indulgent eats – karaage burger anyone?
Must-try: Tebasaki skewer (chicken wings) paired with onigiri (grilled sticky rice ball) and an ice-cold Asahi beer. Ah.
Bird’s Nest Fortitude Valley: 702 Ann StreetBird’s Nest South Brisbane: Shop 5/220 Melbourne StreetBird’s Nest On The Run: 9 Sherwood Road, Toowong Village
8. Sono Japanese Restaurant Portside Wharf
Ridiculously elegant and serene, Sono’s interior is a total immersion into the Japanese cuisine and culture. The space is warm and intimate, with wooden sliding doors creating private nooks and a selection of Horigotatsu seating for groups wanting to add an extra authentic touch to their experience. This style of dining table is low to the ground with a recessed floor underneath to pop your legs down in. In keeping with the traditional theme, the food is a perfect representation of Japanese dining, featuring perfectly prepared sashimi, Japanese hot pots, grilled seafood, agedashi tofu and more. The wasabi on top? Sono is on the water’s edge of Portside Wharf.
Must-try: Zen Course: a traditional 10-course meal featuring sashimi, Alaskan king crab tempura, grilled black cod, Wagyu grilled at the table, clay pot soup and more.