Sydney has one of the largest Japanese populations in the country, bringing with it ramen eateries, omakase benches, and more sushi restaurants than petrol stations.
These establishments offer authentic Japanese cuisine, impeccable service and authentic experiences. Here are some of the best Japanese restaurants you will find in Sydney.
ESCA group, the hospitality powerhouse behind Nour, Henrietta, and Aalia, have opened the doors to their first Japanese restaurant, Itō, in the former Cuckoo Callay space. The dishes lean towards izakaya style, with a touch of Italian heritage, thanks to chef Erik Ortolani’s background. Think yellowfin tuna, served on bonito bread with shaved bottarga or Wagyu mafaldine paired with white shimeji and miso. The drinks menu pulls from Australian makers, including sake made in Melbourne and a range of local wines. Overall, Itō is exactly what Surry Hills was missing—a casual, minimalist Japanese restaurant serving fresh, delicious food and drink at a reasonable price. The views overlooking Crown Street are just the cherry on top.
Dining at ORA is a premium yet fun and experiential journey led by chef Ura, who brings over 35 years of culinary expertise, including his time as head chef at Sushi-e. The restaurant’s sleek, sophisticated setting is primed for a memorable night with friends and family. The menu blends sushi with a wide range of Japanese dishes, from fresh sushi to charcoal-grilled seafood, meat, and vegetables. If we could suggest one dish, it would be the cuttlefish. It comes with a bowl of miso-yuzu sauce for dipping. You don’t want to miss it. The cocktails are just as impressive with libations such as yuzu sour and wabisabi negroni on the menu.
For a unique experience, join Ura at the special kaiseki omakase experience every Wednesday and Thursday, offering a taste of Japanese cuisine inspired by his past cooking for the Japanese Royal Family.
At Nikkei, Peru meets Japan in all aspects of food and beverage. The name Nikkei refers to the cuisine of the Japanese-Peruvians, which started more than a century ago when the first Japanese immigrated to Peru in the late 1890s. Expect share plates made with Japanese techniques but Peruvian ingredients. If you’re new to Nikkei’n cuisine, opt for the tasting menu. It’s the best way to get familiar with the flavours and textures; then, you can experiment with the a la carte menu.
Quay Quarter Lanes
This traditional Japanese omakase restaurant offers an immersive culinary experience you won’t find anywhere else in Sydney. It’s hidden upstairs above the new Quay Quarter Lanes precinct. There are only 12 seats and three sittings day from Tuesday to Saturday. The menu changes daily, depending on what fresh produce is available, but you can expect beautiful, fresh dishes during the two-hour seating. There’s a theatrical element of watching the chef blowtorch a piece of salmon and slice through a tender piece of Wagyu. You will find cold and hot dishes, as well as a series of nigiri and a hand roll. The best part is they can match your wine and sake to your meal for the full experience.
Tokyo Bird is another Surry Hills hotspot, serving Japanese whiskey and yakitori bites in an industrial-chic space. Despite its upscale feel, Tokyo Bird has a sense of fun about it. There are low-lit nooks to settle into for a romantic date, or grab a seat at the bar and scour the cocktails or Japanese whiskey on offer. The karaage, gyoza and grilled skewers are there to help soak up the alcohol.
There’s a reason Nobu is a global brand. It set the standard for fine Japanese dining and continues to shock diners with its dining empire today. Although dining here is not cheap, you can expect the finest ingredients and flavours you’ve never imagined. The menu is pages long and divided into hot and cold dishes, nigiri and sashimi, sushi maki, tempura, and even Nobu tacos, which come in tuna, wagyu beef, and lobster. There’s also a long list of desserts to indulge in. When it comes to Nobu, you can’t go wrong.
Tetsuya’s is a Sydney institution and has been since Chef Tetsuya Wakada opened the restaurant in 1989. This white-tablecloth establishment marries French and Japanese cuisine, with garden views. It’s most famous for its confit ocean trout, but everything here is touched with a little sophistication and plenty of flavours. There is a five or eight-course menu to choose from.
Chaco Bar is the perfect grungy drinking den you’d find in Fukuoka, Japan. They serve Japanese beer and cocktails, and the weekend tasting menu is where you want to be with friends or to impress on a first date. The food is yakitori, so expect small dishes of sizzling eggplant, spiced fried chicken, octopus, and cured fish. If you’re looking for good ramen, Chaco Ramen is also a great spot.
Step into Moku, Sydney’s latest Japanese restaurant, where a world of culinary fusion awaits behind a red Noren curtain. This exciting establishment merges the vibrant flavours of Australian native ingredients into its cocktails and dishes, adding a unique twist to traditional Japanese cuisine. At the heart of Moku’s dining experience is the masterful Chef Ha Chuen Wai, whose expertise was honed in prestigious Sydney restaurants like Sushi E and Sokyo. In this transformed terrace setting, Chef Wai’s culinary artistry takes centre stage.
This hidden gem offers what may be the city’s most budget-friendly omakase experience, starting at just $60 per person. Embrace the traditional Japanese dining style, where expert chefs craft a delectable selection of eight chef’s special omakase sushi, along with a hand roll and miso soup. With options ranging from $80 to $100, you can indulge to your heart’s content. Don’t miss out on their sushi train and other delightful offerings like poke bowls, nigiri, and signature rolls.