The Best Japanese Cafes in Sydney

Updated 2 weeks ago

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Japanese has long been one of Sydney's most popular cuisines when it comes to lunch and dinner. But in the last few years, we’ve seen a bloom in cafes making a strong case for the Japanese breakfast. Some, like Mona Vale's Cafe Monaka, serve teishoku sets (a trad morning meal of grilled fish, steamed rice, miso soup, pickles and fermented soybeans), while others are elevating konbini (shorthand for convenience store) favourites such as katsu sandos and onigiri. We’ve even got places specialising in sweet baked treats, like the kinds you’d find in a Tokyo subway station.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 light-filled cafe inspired by the convenience stores of Japan. Come for bento box lunches, Japanese soft serve and iced coffees spiked with yuzu. From the teams behind Kurumac and Mapo Gelato.

  • 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.

  • On a corner in South Sydney, this specialty-coffee destination is putting Japanese spins on the Aussie brunch. Think house-made bagels with Japanese fixings, cheeseburger donburi bowls and umami-packed noodle dishes.

  • This pocket-sized cafe in the old Cadbury chocolate factory is where to go for onigiri sets, cod roe toasties and a succinct menu of Japanese cocktails. Another winner from the Kurumac team.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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  • 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.

  • A buzzing cafe doing riffs on Japan’s most famous convenience store item: the katsu sando. The one here is staked with cabbage, pickled carrots, American cheese and more. And considering the size, it’s bang for your buck. Expect katsu salad bowls, smoothies and Single O coffee, too.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A former Gumshara is making ramen with soul at this unassuming spot. The menu is ever-changing – but you can always expect chicken-based soups alongside rotating specials from 8am daily.