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

Edition Coffee Roasters Haymarket

Cafe

Inspired by a traditional Japanese farm or mountain house, with takeaway bento boxes and fine-dining level mains. Scandi-design sensibility combined with Japanese food isn't new these days, but who cares when it's done this well?

60 Darling Drive, Haymarket

Cool Mac Cafe

Cafe

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.

2/ 34 Burton Street, Kirribilli

Kurumac

Cafe

Japanese comfort food by the Cool Mac crew. Coffee paired with onigiri, a staple Ox tongue curry, and the occasional ramen pop-up has turned this minimal joint into a weekend destination. On a Saturday morning, the footpath outside gets crowded.

107 Addison Road, Marrickville

Cafe Monaka

Cafe

In Mona Vale, experience a classic Japanese breakfast of rice, pan-seared salmon, miso soup and tamagoyaki (a rolled Japanese omelette), alongside cafe favourites. Think avocado on toast, acai bowls and solid coffee. The raw oak tea-house aesthetic is fitting – aromatic, flavourful green teas imported from Japan are brewed here daily.

2 24 Waratah St, Mona Vale

Sandoitchi

Cafe

A tiny Darlinghurst cafe with a unique riff on Japan’s most convenient sandwich: the pork-katsu sando. Here, it’s staked with salted cucumbers, pickled carrots, nori and American cheese. Best of all, it’s cheap. Expect “sort of poke” bowls and Single O coffee too.

Shop 3 113-115 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst

Dopa Donburi and Milk Bar

Cafe

A former Zumbo pastry chef is behind the elaborate desserts at this Japanese cafe and milk bar by the Devon team. It’s one of the few places in Sydney you’ll find popular Japanese date-night dessert, Kakigori, along with cheeseburger-inspired rice bowls, classic curries and more.

Shop 5/6 2 Little Hay Street, Haymarket

Rising Sun Workshop

Cafe

An unlikely pairing of ramen and motorbike repairs. The lunchtime ramens here tread familiar territory, but the breakfast ramen may be the one to rule them all: bacon, an egg, umami-packed roast tomato and noodles bathing in buttered toast bone broth. Genius.

1c Whateley Street, Newtown

Cafe Oratnek

Cafe

Visit for Japanese-tinged breakfasts by former Bills head chef Kenny Takayama. Its younger sibling Kentaro is also worth your time.

4 Pitt Street, Redfern

Kentaro

Cafe

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’s also hard-to-find Japanese classics such as omurice. It’s restaurant-quality fare, set within an industrial fit-out.

616 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Tokyo Lamington

Cafe

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.

277 Australia Street, Newtown