The Best Japanese Restaurants in Sydney

Updated 6 days ago

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Sydney’s relationship with Japanese cuisine is stronger than most Australian cities. We have one of the largest Japanese populations in the country, bringing with it a wealth of culinary traditions and techniques passed down from the source.

On top of that, our harbour location gives us the advantage of having a world-class fish market. It’s the reason why Tokyo-level sushi and sashimi is everywhere in Sydney; best experienced at one of our many omakase counters.

We’ve got ramen, too – bowls and bowls of it. But if you’re after a flashy izakaya for sake and whisky, a fiery yakitori den, or a masterclass in Peruvian-influenced Nikkei cuisine, you’ll find it on this list.

  • A homage to the grungy izakayas of Fukuoka, Japan. It’s a little more refined than that, but the yakitori is on-point, the beer is ice-cold, and the light is low enough to obscure the fact that you’re dining at the Paris end of Potts Point.

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  • Behind a nondescript door in town, the second iteration of Toko echoes the experience beloved at the original Surry Hills site for 15 years. Expect good-times playlists, signature dishes including Moreton Bay bug tempura, and a sushi bar.

  • Good times are guaranteed at this fun izakaya. Studio Ghibli films are projected on the wall, the staff are cool, and the bites are booze-friendly. Sit at the bar with a whisky highball and some chicken-thigh skewers for the win.

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  • This polished sake room is inspired by a popular Japanese manga – hear the story behind each sake as you sip, and don’t hold back on the nostalgic snacks. We can't get over the Kewpie mayo-shaped chopstick rests.

  • A spot at Kisuke’s six-seat omakase counter is the closest you’ll get to Tokyo without leaving the city. Chef Yusuke Morita prepares raw and hibachi-grilled dishes before you as you dine. You’re in his hands, and all the better for it.

  • A compact izakaya like you’d find down a Tokyo alleyway, with hot towels and all. Inside there are more than 20 sakes, plus sake-friendly snacks including yakitori, miso-marinated cream cheese, and scallops in the half shell.

  • Innovation meets affordability at Otogo. Cutting-edge tech is the key to its sharp prices – but quality is still king. Come for onigiri made with premium Japanese rice, soba with Kyoto-style duck, and housemade vanilla soft serve.

  • Sleek Hanasuki is the only restaurant in Sydney dedicated to shabu-shabu, or Japanese-style hotpot. Dunk thin slices of Wagyu into a delicate, simmering broth – and don’t forget to leave leftovers for some umami-rich congee to finish.

  • Chaco Bar's Keita Abe brings high-end Japanese dining to Surry Hills with this theatrical omakase restaurant. Sit at the wraparound counter try a constantly-shifting menu of Osaka-style tempura and desserts with wow factor.

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  • A stylish riff on a classic izakaya where the menu is anything but traditional. Pork-katsu buns and yuzu brulee are perfect drinking fare – good thing there’s a lengthy list of Japanese spirits, sake and shochu behind the bar.

  • This tiny two-storey diner punches above its weight with a former Sokyo chef in the kitchen and a top mixologist behind the bar. Expect Japanese dishes reimagined with native Australian ingredients, fruity highballs and a warm neighbourhood vibe.

  • A two-in-one spot specialising in Osaka-style okonomiyaki and handmade soba noodles. It’s one of the only places in Sydney that prepares its soba daily, served with a warm bowl of spiced, umami-rich stock for liberal dipping. Slurp with gusto at one of the tatami booths for the full effect.

  • The chef behind this Japanese bistro honed his craft at a Michelin-starred Kyoto restaurant. Here he’s serving top-grade sushi, Kyoto-style duck and classic Japanese dishes that draw everyone from diplomats to Darlinghurst locals.

  • The list of Japanese spirits at Fujiyama would put most izakayas under the table – but the food is not an afterthought. Hot, cold and raw dishes are elegant spins on Japanese pub classics, and the best place to try them is at the centrepiece bar.

  • A design inspired by Japanese folklore, an acclaimed chef behind the counter, and a surprising owner behind it all. This cavernous Japanese diner is in an unlikely spot – but it’s serving up one of Sydney’s must-try omakase experiences.

  • Helmed by a Michelin-starred chef, this multifaceted Japanese diner brings together a dining room, a cocktail bar and a chef's table under one elegant roof. Dishes are informed by Japanese tradition, French techniques and a root-to-stem philosophy.

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  • Nikkei is a Peruvian cuisine that combines Japanese techniques with South American flavours. That’s exactly what you get at this slick restaurant and bar by the Tokyo Bird crew, where the cocktails are just as vibrant as the food.

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  • The don bowls at this minimal diner are sophisticated versions of the classic Japanese comfort dish. But the real signature here is tea, from delicate senchas to tannin-heavy oolongs. Tasting notes and pairing suggestions will guide your palate.

  • An ultra-luxe fine diner specialising in two of Japan’s great culinary traditions. The multi-course menus highlight premium produce, from lobster to Wagyu and abalone. But you can’t put a price on those stellar harbour views.

  • Set within the historic Campbell's Stores precinct, this luxe Japanese diner lets you choose your own experience. There's an omakase counter where your meal is left entirely up to the chefs, and a bigger dining area with a set menu. There's fresh-caught seafood and sake on the cards no matter where you sit.

  • Merivale’s opulent Japanese diner puts a modern spin on the country’s traditional cuisine. Take your seat at the white marble counter for a theatrical experience involving premium seafood, sake and no shortage of knife skills from the team of highly trained chefs.

  • Sydney's first ramen joint is still delivering bowls of curly noodles bathing in smashable, Tokyo-style broths. Watch for the queues – they start from the second Ryo’s opens and curl away down the block.

  • Nigiri takes pride of place at this 12-seat omakase diner, and there's a formidable selection of Japanese whisky to go with it. You might end up sharing some with your neighbour – it's all about the convivial vibe here.

  • Sake's northern beaches outpost takes advantage of its wharfside position with a huge terrace overlooking the bay. Eat your nigiri and robata-grilled snacks out here with Japanese spirits by the glass, carafe or tasting flight.

  • This is the long-awaited Sydney outpost for the beloved Japanese dining empire, and it's brought its signature miso cod along for the ride. Dine on salmon-sashimi tacos and evaporate-in-your-mouth nigiri, knock back "sushi cups" and enjoy some aged sake.

  • The chefs behind this dynamic neighbourhood diner love to keep things interesting. They introduce new dining concepts on the regular, and we’ve seen everything from outstanding ramen to “Australian kaiseki” on the menu.

  • Kimitaka Azuma’s enduring restaurant has stuck around for good reason. Since 1996, it’s upheld a high-standard across the board, with an outstanding sushi and sashimi offering, plus a robust selection of contemporary Japanese mains and bento boxes.

  • An offshoot of Ippudo, famous for its kogashi-style ramen. Meaning “charred” in Japanese, the method involves overheating lard in a wok, then adding a special miso or soy base, followed by chicken broth.

  • A renowned izakaya from Tokyo serving Hakata-style skewers grilled over charcoal. The best seats in the house are wrapped around the open kitchen, where you can watch the chefs prepare and serve the house specialty with military precision.

  • A more casual dining approach to its North Sydney counterpart, specialising in all-you-can-eat Japanese barbeque. For the full experience, settle in to one of the private tatami rooms with a shochu tasting flight and be transported to Japan.