Should you be fortunate enough to live in (or be visiting) Sydney when a craving for Japanese cuisine comes over you, then the only stumbling block will be the sheer enormity of choice that awaits you.
Sydney has an abundance of quality Japanese restaurants, at every price point and in virtually every suburb.
The freshness and excellence of the local seafood, combined with the pre-pandemic explosion of Australian tourists visiting Japan, has only fueled what has long been a thriving Sydney Japanese food scene.
So whether you’re seeking ramen, sashimi, tepura, teriyaki, yakitori, wagyu or any other classic dish, we’ve got you covered for every type of Japanese restaurant – whether it be authentic or fusion, modern or traditional, inexpensive or fiendishly pricey.
We’ve curated a list of 15 of the best Japanese restaurants Sydney has to offer, each one having its own signature touch.
Below is a list that covers vegan, vegetarian, meat-heavy, and gluten-free options, as well as cuisines for the more adventurous as well as the traditionalists.
We’ve made our list comprehensive enough to give choice, but small enough not to overwhelm. All you have to do is read, book and eat.
Locations: Sydney City: Level 2, The Galleries, 500 George Street / Tel: (02) 9262 7677 & Bondi Junction: 171-173 Oxford St / Tel: (02)9369 3980
With restaurants in the Sydney CBD (the flagship) and also in Bondi Juction, Ichi-Ban Boshi has provided authentic Japanese cuisine to Sydneysiders for over 20 years.
Using carefully selected Australian ingredients, Ichi-Ban Boshi’s delicacies are all freshly handmade, with noodles prepared daily. Don’t miss the popular Tonkotsu (pork broth) of which only 30 portions are made per day. Go early, if possible.
Their signature ramen soup is also found in their curry, and their dedication to hand-making their stock makes Ichi-Ban Boshi’s flavor extremely recognizable and leaves you wanting more.
The menu serves fresh meat and fish but has a wide range of vegan and vegetarian alternatives for dishes such as ramen, udon, and a variety of entrees.
Location: 529 Kent Street, Sydney CBD / Tel: (02) 9267 2900
In the heart of Sydney’s CBD is Tetsuya’s, run by Tetsuya Wakuda, who is recognized as one of Japan’s Master of Cuisines.
For a true fine dining experience, Tetsuya’s legendary degustation menu takes some beating. It is unique, and based upon Wakuda’s philosophy for enhancing traditional Japanese seasonal flavours (and natual ingredients), with classic French technique.
What emerges are dishes that have evolved to absolute culinary perfection.
Each dish is accompanied by the sommelier’s recommended wine, and all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the delicacies presented to you.
Choosing between either a 5 or 8-course degustation , favorites including salmon, oyster, and wagyu grace this luxurious menu.
Tetsuya’s is a world-class Japanese restaurant. Book early, understand that it is not cheap and then count down the days. It is spectacular.
Location: 481 Darling St, Balmain 2041 / Tel: (02) 9555 6510 / 0413 280 859
In complete contrast to the fine-dining opulence of Tetsuya’s is this little gem of a find in the trendy inner-west suburb of Balmain.
This is a small, intimate and unpretentious little restaurant. It’s very cosy, cute in a Sailor Moon kind of way, reasonably priced, and a well-kept secret that the good people of Balmain have kept to themselves for too long (over a decade in this location).
Of course the teriyaki is excellent, but so is everything on what is a small menu. Specials are highlighted on a blackboard, and there is a warmth to the ambiance of the uncluttered interior.
I ordered the Agedashi Nasu (deep fried eggplant with dashi-based sauce), with a main of Misobata Kingfish and Isobe Calamari (salt & peper calamari). Simply cooked, elegantly plated and delicious.
Aiming to only serve fresh, authentically Japanese dishes, Nazimi transports you to Japan with its traditional decor and fresh produce.
With hearty lunch options and classic main and sushi menus, Nazimi is perfect for any time of the day, with vegan and vegetarian options making it accessible for everyone to dine without missing out.
The relaxing atmosphere is what draws you to Nazimi, along with the delicious green tea and sesame ice creams to round off your meal and provide a much needed sweet treat.
Providing affordable, good-quality sushi, Sushi Hotaru serves an extremely wide selection of sushi from hand rolls to nigiri to gunkan. You have the option to order from touch screen pads that are easy to use and efficient in bringing your order quickly and to a high standard.
Vegan and vegetarian options are clearly labeled, and there are an array of meats and fish to choose from so there is most certainly something for everyone to enjoy.
Yayoi not only serves traditional Japanese dishes, but provides you with the perfect traditional balance of meat, vegetables, and fish for the ultimate dining experience.
Using only quality meat and fish, Yayoi’s specialty Teishoko meals really stand out from the crowd for their variety of eel, pork, and chicken dishes. Yayoi proudly only use Huon salmon in their dishes, which is ethically sourced and of the highest quality.
A variety of Japanese saké, plum wine, and green tea are just some of the drinks options, with Yayoi providing the perfect features for a great night out.
As a fully vegan Japanese restaurant, Lonely Mouth changes the game.
Lonely Mouth clearly details all of the ingredients used in their recipes, and all of their snacks are made in-house. By concentrating on serving traditional Japanese ramen, Lonely Mouth has perfected this tasty, substantial dish.
Using a combination of vegan meat and vegetable options, Lonely Mouth caters to meat-eaters, vegans who don’t like fake meat, and vegans who miss real meat, widening people’s perceptions of both veganism and Japanese food.
The North of Sydney is home to Jugemu & Shimbashi. This restaurant is particularly interesting as it is split into two- the modern teppanyaki specialist Jugemu and the traditional soba expert Shimbashi.
The extensive menu caters to both meat eaters, pescetarians, vegetarians, and vegans, and you can order from both menus from whichever side you choose to sit on.
Whichever side you choose to sit on is up to you, as you choose upon arrival. The electrifying Jugemu provides a busier atmosphere, and Shimbashi has a very calming effect, allowing you to be in charge of your experience.
Komaru provides traditional set and box menus that come with your choice of meat, fish, or the vegetarian option, and comes with rice, salad, and miso.
Alongside sushi and sashimi, Komaru has weekly specials which keep the menu interesting and vibrant and allow you to experience different flavors and exciting delicacies.
Komaru also sells powders for home use, allowing you to take the taste of Japan away with you and the taste of Komaru that you crave.
Tobikiri has an extensive menu for an authentic Japanese experience, ranging from sushi, sashimi, bento boxes, tempura, and gyoza.
With vegan and vegetarian options and a wide range of sake and wines, Tobikiri is perfect for lunch, dinner, or a snack.
The homely decor is very welcoming, and the seats at the bar provide a warm welcome to lone diners who can chat to bar staff if they want.
Nobu’s high-class dining room has elements of traditional Japanese decor, serving a luxurious experience alongside some mouth watering dishes.
The menu provides a clear section dedicated to a solely vegetarian menu, along with an impressive list of sushi sections, hot dishes and sides, and a wide variety of local seafood and meat.
Known around the world, Nobu stays true to their fine dining tradition, making no exceptions with their wines, cocktails, and sake to accompany your meals.
Combining jazz and sushi is Jazushi, Sydney’s very own piece of New York. The dimmed lights of the dining area give Jazushi a calming jazz club vibe with a menu guaranteed to relax customers.
With plenty of vegan options and an extensive selection of Japanese soft drinks, wine, whiskey, and saké, there is plenty to feed your fancy.
There is a live music schedule so that you are able to link your meal up with a particular artist you’d like to hear, setting Jazushi apart from other restaurants.
The raw section is clearly labeled for those who prefer, and there are extensive cooked options available alongside classic Japanese dishes.
The warming comfort of a bowl of ramen is not only good for your head but your heart too.
Yasaka Ramen offers a wide selection of ramens for customers to choose from, allowing you to choose your own spice level to your liking and fully enjoy your dish.
It also has lots of sides to choose from and doesn’t only serve ramen as their name suggests. Popular sides of bao buns and gyoza will accompany you on your cozy journey of warmth and calm.
Using selected Australian meats and vegetables in their broths, Yasaka Ramen brings a local twist to a Japanese classic.
RK San Contemporary Japanese Restaurant puts a modern twist on classic Japanese dishes.
Using locally sourced ingredients, RK San envisions interesting dishes, as shown by their ‘Cigar of the day’ dish which consists of salmon rolled in a pastry shell and decorated to resemble a cigar.
These kinds of dishes set this restaurant apart from any other, making the dining experience like no other.
With pink sushi and flower-shaped fish, RK San’s innovative designs are mind-blowing and taste just as delicious.
Serving fresh fish nigiri, baby rolls, and a variety of hot dishes consisting of tofu and eggplant for vegans and tuna and teriyaki beef on the grill, Izakaya Fujiyama serves great samples of traditional cuisine.
There’s an extensive selection of cold and hot dishes, making Izakaya Fujiyama a great choice all year round. With happy hour every day excluding weekends, this restaurant is perfect for enjoying some of your favorite dishes and sampling whatever interests you most, whether that be from the kitchen or the bar!
Saké’s section of ‘new classics’ really gives a modern twist on traditional dishes, and the à la carte menu offers lots of gluten-free and vegan options too. The seafood is proudly MSC-certified and handled by expert chefs so that you can enjoy your dishes to the full.
The menu is packed extensively with flavor exploding traditional ingredients such as salmon and chicken, keeping your tastebuds intrigued and wanting more.
The seating is perfect for any occasion, with the restaurant offering private or communal dining, as well as bar tables for you to choose how you’d like your experience to be.