Best Japanese Cafes in Sydney

Updated 4 months ago


Japanese is one of Sydney’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 Mona Vale's Cafe Monaka, 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 Sydney
Best Japanese Restaurants in Sydney

  • Decked out in raw oak, this breezy spot is one of a few Sydney cafes serving traditional Japanese breakfasts, plus brunch classics. The tea-house aesthetic is fitting – artisan green teas from Japan are brewed here daily.

  • Japanese comfort food by the Cool Mac crew. Specialty coffee matched with onigiri, a staple sashimi bowl and the occasional ramen pop-up has turned this cool and unassuming cafe into a weekend hotspot. Arrive early.

  • Where else can you get a cheese melt with a plate of katsu or ochazuke? The dining space doubles as a gallery spruiking a rotation of Sydney artists. Anything goes at this long-standing Kirribilli joint; a Japanese through-line brings it all together.

  • The unlikely pairing of ramen and motorcycle repairs produces some pretty spectacular results at this casual all-day diner. Come for one of four signature ramens (including an outstanding breakfast number), izakaya snacks and lo-fi wines.

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  • A petite Japanese cafe serving crowd-pleasing onigiri, sweet and savoury bread rolls and desserts. Go for standout onigiri flavours such as salted salmon, tuna and mayonnaise, chicken soboro (flavoured mince) and salted egg.

  • On weekdays this sleek venue channels Japan’s kissaten (cafes), with single-origin coffees and pastries from Darlinghurst’s Tenacious Bakehouse. When night falls, it slides into wine-bar mode with French wines and elegant dishes from sister venue, fine diner Kuro.

  • Traditional Japanese mountain houses were the inspiration behind Edition’s flagship cafe. Enter this astounding space for fine-dining level breakfasts fusing Scandi and Japanese flavours, and some of the best coffee in Sydney.

  • A former Black Star Pastry chef is behind this tiny bakery in an inner west backstreet. Playful spins on the classic Aussie cake are speciality (think yuzu-meringue or pandan and coconut), but you can also expect onigiri filled with traditional Japanese flavours and a few inspired creations such as bacon-and-egg.

  • 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.

  • A buzzing cafe doing riffs on Japan’s most convenient takeaway item: the katsu sando. The chicken number here is staked with cabbage, pickled carrots, nori, American cheese and apple kimchi. And considering the size, it’s bang for your buck. Expect katsu salad bowls, smoothies and Single O coffee, too.

  • A former Gumshara and Yasaka chef is making ramen with soul at this tiny, unassuming cafe. The menu is ever-changing – but you can always expect light, chicken-based soup alongside inventive specials. Plus, a roll-call of Japanese standards and Columbian coffee.

  • Seasonal, Japanese-tinged breakfasts by former Bills head chef Kenny Takayama. Come for an exemplary katsu sando, comforting omurice, and sponge cake coated in a secret green tea mix (almost like a matcha lamington). Younger sibling Kentaro is also worth your time.

  • Kentaro is Oratnek spelled backwards – a nod to its sister venue in Redfern. You can get Oratnek’s signature katsu sando here (“worth the 15 minute wait”), but there are also hard-to-find Japanese classics such as omurice. It’s restaurant-quality fare, set within an industrial fit-out.

  • On a corner in South Sydney, this specialty coffee destination is putting Japanese spins on the Aussie brunch like nowhere else. We mean hand-rolled bagels with Japanese fixings, cheeseburger donburi bowls and umami-packed noodle dishes – including a spicy tan tan ramen.

  • It’s all about Japanese comfort food and elaborate desserts at this diner and milk bar by the Devon team. It’s one of the few places in Sydney where you'll find popular Japanese date-night dessert, Kakigori, along with cheeseburger-inspired rice bowls, classic curries and more.