Melbourne diners are pretty open to any cuisine. We’ll give anything a go, especially if it’s new. But we’ve been huge fans of Japanese food for a long time now. Evident by the range of restaurants found everywhere you turn. From sashimi to sake, we round up some of our favourite places to get our Japanese fix from authentic to not so much.
Found in the basement level of Russell Street, this place fulfills the fancier side of your Japanese cravings. And also offers the perfect place to take out-of-towners who need to be impressed. With a share style menu you’ll taste the likes of the den chicken, sweet corn kakiage, tuna tataki, and grilled pork belly. Japanese sake and beer are a plenty.
Basement, 114 Russell Street, Melbourne
Located in both St Kilda and Collingwood, this laid-back space is good for the north and south siders among us. Taking authentic dishes and giving them more modern twists you’ll find anything from fresh tuna sashimi served with wasabi leaves and soy, to thinly sliced teriyaki wagyu beef, to a vegetarian dinner burrito of miso marinated tofu cheese, back beans, and spinach. The menus differ from each venue but the vibe is the same.
94 Smith Street Collingwood
17 Wellington Street, St Kilda
A newcomer to the scene, Tokyo Tina is the newest venue from the team behind Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally. The casual but elegant space boasts Astro Boy in the corner and beers well over $10. It’s the best of both worlds. The menu is refined yet very approachable. Think a bite sized charcoal cone filled with Port Lincoln kingfish, wasabi, and apple, poached chicken salad with edamame, mizuna, and wombok, and even classic roasted pork belly ramen with 63 degree egg, and spring onion.
66A Chapel Street, Windsor
Sake Restaurants and Bar
One of the most impressive looking Japanese restaurants in Melbourne, Sake is part of a family of restaurants that started in Sydney and Brisbane before making its way here. The large space sits below Hamer Hall on the Yarra River with stunning views. The large menu serves up favourites like the ‘glacier 51’ toothfish lettuce cups with miso marinade, fried soft shell crab sushi roll with cucumber, mayo, and chives, or the wagyu teriyaki served with shiitake and shiitake. And the cocktails are worth the trip alone.
100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
A lesser-known spot for a sushi fix, you’ll find this one on Queens Parade in Fitzroy North. While the space isn’t anything to rave about the food is. You’ll find some of the freshest sushi and sashimi around. Whether you’re going for sashimi, sushi, or hand rolls the seafood will melt in your mouth. The rest of the large menu serves up more traditional dishes like teriyaki chicken and hot noodle bowls.
388/390 Queens Parade, Fitzroy North
Another one for the tourist friends, Chocolate Buddha offers a front row seat to Federation Square. The fully glass windowed communal dining space serves up seriously tasty and fresh dishes from the authentic to the more modern. The tempura pumpkin hand roll served with beetroot, seaweed salad, avocado, and Japanese mayo is seriously addictive, while the spicy pork ramen is rich and moreish.
Federation Square, Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Mr. Miyagi is more about puns than traditional Japanese cuisine. But that doesn’t mean it’s not super tasty. The menu serves up a small handful of transitional dishes like the edamame, sushi and sashimi. Then goes straight to the not so traditional with a nori taco filled with salmon belly and sushi rice, Miyagi fried chicken with kewpie mayo, and ramen gnocchi served with wagyu bolognese and salted buffalo ricotta.
99 Chapel Street, Windsor
More of a Japanese bar than a restaurant, this elegant space is located on the second level overlooking the Treasury Gardens. While Japanese inspired cocktails and nice drops of bubbles are the main event here, making it the perfect first stop on your night out, you can get a bite to eat or two. The Hihou dog has somewhat of a cult following served in a sesame brioche bun with pork sausage. Or maybe you’re more of a ‘Cuban’ spicy tuna cigar type of person.
1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Another one where the food by far outshines the space – you’ll drink water out of plastic camping type cups. This CBD space is one of the oldest Izakaya style venues in the city, opening back in 1989, so they know their food. The sushi menu is huge, serving up rolls of three sizes, individual nigiri pieces, and large platters. Other dishes see delicious pork gyoza and the tempura udon of thick noodles served with tempura prawns and vegetables.
165 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Kumo Izakaya, found in Brunswick East, is a place for good Japanese food, and even better sake. The food is designed to share starting with vegetable chips served with aonori salt and takoyaki – octupus wrapped in a savoury pancake, and continues with pan-fried pork gyoza, and sweet potato noodle tempura with tentsuyu. The drinks take up as much space as the food with cocktails, sake flights, plum wine, whisky, and shochu before you even get to wine and beer.
152 Lygon Street, Brunswick East