Operator San is among a spate of Melbourne cafes offering quality Japanese breakfasts to early risers. San, Japanese for “three”, is the third Operator venue from Randy Dhamanhuri and Valerie Fong (also behind Operator25 and Operator Diner).

Here, the all-day menu combines nostalgic Japanese flavours with Melbourne brunch classics. You might find breakfast ramen, katsu curry Benedict with house-made spam and Japanese curry hollandaise, as well as strawberry mochi waffles. The baked-goods shelf rotates through pastries made in collaboration with AM Bakehouse.

Operator San has a neighbourhood famiresu (family restaurant) vibe, with warm and cosy tones and lots of textures in the woodwork. Screen-printed indigo blue flags, or “noren”, hang from the ceiling to divide the space while letting light in. Splashes of orange nod to 1990’s telecom payphones, and vintage Japanese telephones sit in a nook at the cafe.

To drink, there’s Code Black coffee and specialty teas including Uji hikari sencha (single origin green tea from Uji Kyoto), kuki hojicha (Shizuoka autumn harvest roasted tea), shisho iced teas and whisked-to-order matcha lattes. There is also a sparkling strawberry Yakult drink and a coffee spritzer made with cold filter coffee, yuzu soda and bitters.

Contact Details

Updated: May 29th, 2024

We do not seek or accept payment from the cafes, restaurants, bars and shops listed in the Directory – inclusion is at our discretion. Venue profiles are written by independent freelancers paid by Broadsheet.