Japan’s love affair with jazz music is storied. The genre became a cultural phenomenon after the second world war when American troops flooded the country with vinyl records. An explosion of “jazz kissa” followed, vinyl-spinning cafes where people could sit and listen to the sound of America in high fidelity.

A handful of Sydney venues capture some of that romance, but Jazushi in Surry Hills was arguably the first to try. Yuki Ishikawa's enduring two-level restaurant has been plating up creative Japanese dishes with a side of live jazz since 2003, and celebrated 20 years on Devonshire Street in September 2023.

An upright piano sits at the edge of the cosy, exposed-brick space and hosts soloists and ensembles four nights a week. But the menu jostles for your attention, with snacks and happy hour deals aimed at the post-work crowd. For a jazzy dinner date, there’s fancier stuff like tuna tartare, soft shell crab with homemade plum mayo, and teriyaki Wagyu. Ramen is the headliner every Thursday night.

If you need something to sip on during the set, both classic and natural wines are available alongside Japan’s greatest drinking hits. Think sake, umeshu and Suntory’s smoothest whiskies.

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Updated: November 13th, 2023

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