Japanese is one of Melbourne’s most popular cuisines – when it comes to lunch and dinner. Breakfast, on the other hand, has taken a little longer to get going. In Japan the morning meal typically involves grilled fish, steamed rice, miso soup, pickles, fermented soybeans, seasonal vegetables and a green salad. It’s undeniably delicious and healthy, but it’s also not food we typically associate with having a flat white.

In the last few years a number of Japanese cafes have opened, thumbing their noses at that idea. Some, like Collingwood’s Cibi, serve authentic Japanese breakfasts alongside dishes that combine tradition and local tastes. Others specialise in Japan’s snackier foods, such as katsu sandos or musubi. Others still focus on sweet baked treats, like the kinds you’d find in a Tokyo subway station.

Related Pages
Best Katsu Sandos in Melbourne
Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne

Cibi

Cafe

“Cibi” is Japanese for “little one”. But this cafe and homewares store is not so little anymore. It's in a light-filled warehouse with a spacious, homey kitchen; there are traditional breakfasts alongside more contemporary dishes; and there's also a grocery section with a range of produce and pantry goods to take home.

31-39 Keele Street, Collingwood

Le Bajo

Cafe

At this Japanese cafe, almost everything revolves around fluffy-house baked shokupan (which you can get to take away). You'll also find fried-chicken katsu sandos, teriyaki fries and airy sponge cake.

8-14 Howard Street, North Melbourne

Hikari

Cafe

A minimalist, pint-sized shop where you can sip a matcha latte and browse a curated range of bespoke ceramics and glassware from Japan. You’ll also find cakes by Mork, and single-origin coffees imported from Japan.

317 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Hibiki

Cafe

Japanese-style brunch involving bacon-topped okonomiyaki, a green-tea-chai hybrid and Japanese funk on the stereo. Plus, castella cakes and hybrid dishes – such as pork-shoulder eggs Benedict with onigiri rice and yuzu hollandaise sauce – make regular appearances.

1161 Toorak Road, Camberwell
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Hibiki Future

Shop

A futuristic take on a Japanese convenience shop from the team behind Hibiki next-door. While it’s not technically a cafe, it’s got all the elements to recreate the experience at home: fluffy shokupan for sandos, imported Japanese coffee gear and every Japanese condiment under the sun. Plus bento boxes and katsu sandos to go.

1159 Toorak Road, Camberwell

279

Cafe

This corner cafe specialises in modern takes on traditional Japanese sandwiches and excellent filter coffee. For dessert, grab a Mochinut (a mochi doughnut) or a black tea creme brûlée.

279 Victoria Street, West Melbourne

Ima Project Cafe

Cafe

This Japanese-Australian eatery embraces “ugly vegetables” and local art and design. The breakfast menu might involve anything from baked eggs served in a miso sugo to porridge with poached pear, sesame and mitarashi (a sweet soy syrup). If you're planning on getting the lunch special, get in early – it sells out fast.

169 Elgin Street, Carlton

Bakemono

Cafe

This Japanese-inspired bakery is from the team behind Little Rogue just across the street. It's selling whole loaves of shokupan (fluffy milk bread), flaky almond-yuzu croissants, Danishes piled high with berries, and soft buns filled with cream cheese, then doused in garlic butter.

273 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Taiyo Sun

Cafe

Blink and you might miss this tiny, light-filled Japanese cafe wedged into the corner of a modern apartment block. Teas and mainly things on white, thick-cut toast are mainstays, but comforting curries and omurice pop up often.

394 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North

KUU Cafe

Cafe

Kuu's owners are a Japanese couple with a love for Melbourne, so you'll see influences from both places on display here. They shows up in the design, which is clean and minimalistic. They also appear on the menu, where traditional dishes are often given a local spin. There's a great range of salads and sandos to take away, too.

190 Park Street, South Melbourne

Papirica

Cafe

The focus here is on okonomiyaki – savoury Japanese pancakes. They come with all kinds of toppings, from pork and kimchi to mushroom. The rest of the menu is rounded out by classics including omurice, shokupan sandos and teriyaki chicken. Enjoy it all in the homey dining room or in the sunny courtyard.

22 Smith Street, Collingwood

Saint Dreux

Cafe

Fancy katsu sandos and high-quality coffee are the draws at this takeaway-driven spot inside the St. Collins Lane food court.

Level 2 St. Collins Lane 260 Collins Street, Melbourne

Kissaten

Cafe

A cosy suburban cafe set in leafy surrounds, serving Japanese-inspired breakfasts and house-brewed hojicha (green tea) lattes.

538 Heidelberg Road, Alphington

Shoku Iku

Cafe

This organic cafe serves an entirely vegan and raw menu. Chef-owner Yoko Inoue's cooking showcases the benefits of macrobiotic and organic raw food. Although most of the menu takes its cues from Japan, Inoue often just cooks what she feels, so dishes such as beetroot spaghetti and raw lasagne are common.

120 High Street, Northcote
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