The 23 Best Japanese Restaurants In Sydney
— 21 February 2024

The 23 Best Japanese Restaurants In Sydney

— 21 February 2024
Co-Author: Randy Lai  | 
Chris Singh
WORDS BY
Chris Singh

Amongst all of Australia’s favourite eateries, the Japanese restaurant has always been particularly well-represented here in Sydney.

Beyond the expatriate communities in North Sydney suburbs like Crow’s Nest and Cammeray, the various modes of food from Japan are popular almost anywhere you go in the city.

To help make a dent in the sizable community of Japanese restaurants in Sydney, we’ve compiled a longlist of our favourites: ranging from cheerful izakayas to the full-tilt omakase — one of Japanese cuisine’s most highfalutin artforms.

RELATED: The 9 Best Restaurants In Darling Harbour



The Best Japanese Restaurants In Sydney For 2024

1. Sokyo, Pyrmont

Sokyo is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney.
(Photo by The Star Sydney)

Chase Kojima and Daniel Kawk’s masterful work behind the counter has ensured Sokyo a five-star legacy in the city’s fiercely competitive hospitality scene, shaped primarily by immaculately prepared raw fish and the occasional surprise.

The restaurant’s relaxed atmosphere lends itself to convivial, crowd-pleasing dinners over signatures like miso-glazed toothfish with Japanese salsa. I’d consider it one of the nicest pieces of toothfish I’ve ever eaten in Sydney.

Other popular a la carte dishes include the 200g wagyu flank steak with shio koji marinade, wasabi, and garlic ponzu; or a lamb chop from the robata grill served with charred eggplant puree and basil.


2. Tetsuya’s, Sydney CBD

tetsuyas is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney

Few of Sydney’s most established fine dining restaurants remain as relevant as they were when first opened. That is, of course, unless we’re talking about Tetsuya’s. The famously punchy Kent Street restaurant may have had to share the spotlight with other venues in recent times, but very little can dim what Tetsuya Wakuda and, more recently, Josh Raine, have created.

Just one taste of that signature confit ocean trout served with a salad of green apple and witlof (at one time, the world’s most photographed dish) is more than enough to justify the restaurant’s unceasing acclaim.

Other popular morsels from the set menu at Tetsuya’s include roasted scampi tail with vanilla; duck breast with Jerusalem artichokes and barley; and wagyu beef sirloin served with chestnut mushroom and truffle from Western Australia. Do note that the set menu changes all the time though, so it’s best to check the website in advance before visiting.


3. Moku Sydney, Darlinghurst

Moku is one of the most underrated Japanese restaurants in Sydney

Moku Sydney has a strong local following and easily qualifies as a bit of a hidden gem for Sydney’s Japanese dining scene. Taking over a two-floor heritage building on Crown Street, not far from Stanley Street, the venue is helmed by ex-Sushi E Chef, Ha Chuen Wai, and offers both an a la carte experience downstairs and an omakase counter upstairs.

The restaurant’s serious Japanese whisky collection features a lot of drams from small/closed distilleries, alongside commercial favourites such as Hibiki 21. No surprises that a Highball here is a must.

The dishes coming out of Chef Wai’s kitchen are decidedly modern and feature contemporary twists on classic Japanese recipes. To start, we’d recommend oysters; moving onto beef tataki, octopus with chilli miso or some perfectly smoked duck breast with tomato dashi; before finishing with a strawberry mochi.


4. Oborozuki, Circular Quay

There isn’t much in the way of traditional Japanese fine dining in Sydney. In fact, it’s nigh impossible to find a good kaiseki menu. That is, it was until Oborozuki came along.

This relatively new venue is split into two floors: now pretty much the only place we’d gladly make a reservation for in the strip of No Man’s Land between the Opera House and Circular Quay station.

The set menus change regularly but always focus on artful dishes constructed with top-tier produce. As for the wines: delicious. In fact, on my visit, I was equally impressed by the drops available, expertly chosen by the resident sommelier.

Oborozuki ‘s interiors also aren’t stuffy in the slightest; with a very open, attractive interior that speaks to its premium approach and offers plenty of smaller nooks for an intimate dining experience.


5. Besuto, Circular Quay

The omakase dining experience at Besuto is a great addition to Quay Quarters in Circular Quay.

Nowadays, it seems every dining precinct in Sydney needs an omakase as one of its upscale offerings. For Circular Quay’s newest neighbourhood, Quay Quarter, that would be Besuto.

Opened by Joel Best and award-winning Finnish chef Tomi Bjorck, the 14-seat dining experience is helmed by Hiro Kano and Hiro Fujita: two sushi masters at the top of their game. 

Not only is it an invaluable get for Circular Quay, which has always been lacking when it comes to big-ticket dining options; but Besuto also adds 14 seats to Sydney’s rapidly growing spread of impossible-to-book omakase experiences. That makes it one of the roomiest in terms of capacity.

Not only is that thanks to the food, simply prepared with daily-sourced produce from Sydney Fish Markets but an impressive list of Japanese whisky, wines and sakes curated by sommelier Alex Zanarini. 

All your Japanese favourites should make an appearance throughout the 18-20 course omakase, including delicious nigiri, topped with ‘catch of the day’ morsels like cuttlefish and bass garoupa.


6. UME Burger, Barangaroo

UME Burger does some of the best burgers in Sydney

You may not be sitting down in some immaculately designed walled space when you pull up to this Barangaroo burger spot, but you’re guaranteed some of the best Japanese flavours in the area.

The late Kirby Craig, who made an indelible impact on Sydney’s culinary scene with his now-closed Bar Ume in Surry Hills, opened this casual burger spin-off a few years ago and has quickly built it into a spot for some of the best burgers in Sydney.

The burgers at UME are all Japanese influenced, of course, like the signature Ume Burger with a beef pattie, wagyu mince sauce, truss tomato, onion, mayo and American cheese.


7. Masuya Restaurant, Sydney CBD

Masuya is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney.

Stalwart sushi chef Toshihiko Oe may have left and taken his ridiculously hard-to-book 30-piece omakase experience elsewhere (also on this list), yet Japanese dining institution Masuya remains one of the best you’ll find in Sydney. Hidden away beneath O’Connell Street, the brightly lit space is a masterclass of traditional Japanese, focusing on locally sourced produce that has been prepared with exacting precision.

Given the restaurant has been around since 1993, that longevity alone should tell you everything you need to know. Colourful bento boxes, wooden boats speckled with sashimi, top-flight Australian wagyu — there’s nothing here that doesn’t qualify Masuya as one of Sydney’s preeminent Japanese diners.

Popular a la carte dishes include the classic pork tonkatsu loin and the kitchen’s value-for-money lunchtime bento options.


8. Kuro Bar & Dining, Sydney CBD

A bowl of food and glasses of wine on a table

Kuro Bar & Dining is powered by polished service and a great deal of creativity in the kitchen. Chef Taka Teramoto and his team take a finer approach to casual Japanese food, scoping out the likes of a blackened Kuro fried chicken and A5 Kagoshima Wagyu carpaccio lifted by egg yolk jam and sansho pepper.

This isn’t traditional Japanese, but something rather more modern with a decidedly Aussie twist. Yet, there’s nothing perverse or destructive about it. And while proportions can be on the smaller side, you’d be hard-pressed to find flavours like this around the CBD.

Other popular options, aside from the caviar service, include an ocean tart with sweet prawns or a tartare of beetroot and Hokkaido scallops, delicately scented with beetroot.


9. Sashimi Shinsengumi, Crows Nest

You’ll have to be fairly vigilant to score a spot for the $80 omakase at Sashimi Shinsengumi. Typically spaced at 18 courses, it’s widely regarded as one of the best value omakase in Sydney’s hospitality scene. So high is the demand for Shinji Matsui’s meticulous sushi that the restaurant’s phone lines are only opened roughly six times per year.

If that sounds challenging, then you’re always welcome to book one of the restaurant’s takeaway packs of sashimi or sushi, available at an array of prices between $80 — $220. This is a great workaround when the omakase experience at Sashimi Shinsenguimi is not available.


10. Sushi Oe, Cammeray

sushi oe

If you’re craving an exclusive, intimate sushi experience; then look no further than Sushi Oe.

This diminutive 6-seat restaurant, helmed by Chef Toshihiko Oe, dispenses with menus in favour of a “leave it up to you” philosophy. An open kitchen allows diners to witness Oe-san’s artistry, as he transforms premium ingredients (such as chutoro tuna and black lip abalone) into an unforgettable multicourse symphony. Expect meticulous knifework and a focus on premium seafood.

Reservations are announced over Instagram and usually fill up instantly. At $250 per head, Sushi Oe sits in the middle ground of Sydney’s priciest omakase venues — though the bigger challenge is in whether you’ll be able to finagle a reservation. Some diners, legend has it, have been trying for over a year.


11. Kuon, Sydney CBD

Best Japanese Restaurants Sydney - Kuon

Unlike many Japanese restaurants in Sydney that happen to offer an omakase, there’s no alternative option for diners at Kuon. At this contemporarily styled 11-seater, your options are a $230 set menu or nothing.

Driving swift acclaim is Hideaki Fukada and Head Chef Jun Miyauchi, who use ingredients ranging from the traditional uni (in this case, Tasmanian sea urchin) to monkfish liver; as well as more conventional produce in the mould of bluefin tuna and caviar.

Popular menu items here include the monaka sandwich of sea urchin, toro, and oscietra caviar; or steamed black abalone seasoned with kimo — a kind of highly emulsified sauce made with eel liver.


12. Sushi E, Sydney CBD

Sushi E is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney.

Hospitality juggernaut Merivale isn’t one to be outdone in Sydney, so you can bet that the hospitality giant has invested a lot in Sushi E. Located adjacent to Hemmesphere, the long-running space is one of the better known purveyors of Japanese food in the city.

Like numerous other spots on this list, Sushi E’s omakase seating requires a lot of patience and good luck to book. Although, the a la carte menu is equally worthy of attention.

On that note, if you’re ordering as you go, try the MBS9 Wagyu cooked over charcoal with black garlic and wasabi mustard; king crab soba noodles with dashi, nori butter and bottarga; or Patagonian toothfish. The access to premium ingredients is unparalleled.

RELATED: Nobu Sydney Is Now Slinging An All-You-Can Eat Sushi Deal


13. Yakitori Yurripi, Crows Nest

yakitori yurripi

It may not boast the breadth of a good omakase or wider Japanese-flavoured menu, but it’d surely be a mistake to brush past Crows Nest favourite Yakitori Yurippi.

As the name indicates, this small Japanese eatery specialises in little else but yakitori (broadly translating to “grilled chicken”). If the name sounds familiar to the more party-minded diners of Sydney, it’s because it used to be the resident kitchen at rowdy Oxford Street haunt The Cliff Dive.

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Much like globally renowned Hong Kong dining destination Yardbird, the skewers here utilise just about every part of the humble chicken: heart, liver, gizzard, soft bones and all. However, those less prone to culinary courage have options like cheese kransky and pork belly to choose from.

Aside from the yakitori, we’d also steer you towards Yurippi’s karaage, grilled rice balls, and the signature Japanese omelette.


14. Toko, Sydney CBD

A plate of food sitting on top of a wooden table

Few Japanese restaurants compare with the dark and lush vibes of Toko — still one of Sydney’s go-to spots for solid Japanese food. The popular date spot has plenty of options, but the smartest choice here is either anything from the robata grill or its selection of sushi.  

As with most Japanese restaurants in our list, it’s best to go with whatever tasting menu the team has come up with on the day: bound to showcase excellent produce and modern techniques across a range of salads, tempura dishes, sushi, and robata-grilled goodness.

In our view: the robata is definitely the way to go here, with popular options from the grill including BBQ sweetcorn with chilli-miso butter; jumbo tiger prawns with yuzu koshu; and A5 striploin from Kagoshima.

Note that, for a long time, Toko was widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in Surry Hills. It’s since moved on from the original site, setting up shop on George Street in the Sydney CBD.


15. Osaka Trading Co., Forest Lodge

Best Japanese Restaurants in Sydney - Osaka Trading Co

The conceptual dining scene that’s taken over Sydney’s historic Tramsheds tracks with the city’s wider obsession for adaptive reuse precincts. And the success of this makeover comes down, in large part, to Osaka Trading Co. 

From the same team behind Tokyo Bird, Bancho Bar and Nikkei, this is one of the more accessible restaurants on the list. And while you won’t have the same level of feverish demand that keeps you from making a booking here as you will at, say, Sushi Oe,; you’ll get a quality round of soft shell crab buns, miso-cured barramundi and various flavours of highball-friendly ramen.

Popular a la carte dishes include grilled scallops with soy onion butter; the aforementioned barramundi; or a classic tonkatsu pork cutlet.


16. Chaco Bar, Potts Point

Few Japanese chefs enjoy the kind of pervasive influence on Sydney’s food scene that Keita Abe has, whose Darlinghurst restaurant, Chaco Ramen, remains one of the country’s finest when it comes to big, generous bowls of soulful broth and alkaline-rich noodles. There’s a reason we put that venue in our list of the best ramen in Sydney.

That said, Abe’s bigger sister venue in Potts Point, Chaco Bar, is where diners should head if they want something beyond the realm of soup noodles. Inspired by the yakitori culture of Itoshima, Abe’s hometown, the menu here highlights a more creative facet of the eponymous chef’s personality.

These days, there’s only one (fairly straightforward) $98 option for set menus: a great way to try a range of Chaco Bar favourites — think tsukune meatballs or spanner crab chawanmushi — all in one sitting.


17. Cho Cho San, Potts Point

Japanese Restaurant Sydney

While Potts Point fan favourite Cho Cho San has been given mixed reviews amongst the Boss Hunting office, I’ve found that when the kitchen is at its best, it’s right up there with the best of Sydney’s Japanese eateries.

With its inventive cocktails, slick service, minimal aesthetic, and contemporary Japanese menu, there’s certainly no lack of flavour (or vibes) whenever you choose to dine at this highly polished venue.

Sashimi lovers will salivate over the expertly sliced selections and the melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu steak is a must for hungry carnivores.


18. Restaurant Toshiya, Cremorne

toshiya

Located at Cremorne Junction, owner and chef Toshiya Kai has turned his eponymous Japanese restaurant into one of the most acclaimed on Sydney’s Lower North Shore.

Expertly cut sashimi and sushi are a fixture of Toshiya’s menu, but there are many more contemporary takes on Japanese cuisine (sashimi tacos anybody?) for those with more ephemeral palates.


19. Gaku Robata, Darlinghurst

Japanese restaurant Sydney

Gaku Robata is a restaurant where reinvention occurs semi-regularly. Chef-owners Shimon Hanakura and Haru Inukai have turned Gaku into a testbed for every vein of cookery over the years. (Think “Aussie” kaiseki, classic à la carte, or French fusion.)

Inside, a corner table and the oversized chef’s counter provide the venue with space for no more than 20. Reservations are, thus, highly recommended.

Meanwhile, the wine list (while on the compact side) reflects Inukai-san’s long working relationship with importer Andrew Guard. Expect grower Champagne and a variety of cult producers from Beaujolais.


20. Tokyo Bird, Surry Hills

Japanese restaurants Sydney

A veritable Sydney institution — and one we’re proud to call our local here at BH — it’s not by sheer luck that Tokyo Bird has been around for nearly a decade. One of the first consistently delicious purveyors of yakitori in the inner city, it’s a diminutive space tucked down a laneway. 60 seats, all within earshot of a bartender.

Naturally, skewers of grilled chicken are obligatory whenever you visit. But Tokyo Bird’s real killer edge only becomes apparent once you turn your attention to libations. The venue has iterated on the typical haibōru by allowing diners to customize the beverage’s constituent parts (i.e. whisky and mixer). If you’re a purist, fret not: there are Toki highballs on-tap.

Additionally, Tokyo Bird was one of the first small restaurants in Sydney to embrace a serious selection of Japanese whiskies — something that persists today. It’s one in an extremely scant number of venues where drinkers can still order Hibiki 30 or back bottlings from Miyagikyo by the glass. What’s not to love?


21. Nomidokoro Indigo, Darlinghurst

It’s unsurprising that Nomidokoro Indigo, which only opened its narrow doors in late 2022, feels so fully realised. This Darlinghurst izakaya is the fourth opening from the same group behind Yakitori Yurippi. If you’re familiar with the back alley eateries one can find all over Tokyo, this is a solid recreation.

Case in point: diners are seated literally a shoulder’s width apart from one another, and with the exception of a diminutive tachinomi (“standing bar”) there are only 11 spaces for diners to occupy.

Like its setting, the menu at Indigo skews cosy. Chef Hideyuki Kato tries to make as many dishes as possible from scratch; with essential ingredients like miso and dashi (a kind of master stock) prepared in-house.

On the drinks front, sake — of all the various specially designated types — is a key focus. There are more than 20 kinds to choose from at any given time. Most of these can be ordered by the bottle or, if you’re in the mood to sample widely, by the tokkuri (roughly analogous in volume to a carafe).


22. Izakaya Tempura Kuon, Sydney CBD

After mastering the omakase and yakitori modes of Japanese cookery respectively, Kuon group (helmed by Kenny Lee and Head Chef Hideaki Fukuda) has opted to make tempura the focus of its newest venture.

Appropriately entitled Izakaya Tempura Kuon, this venue — specialising in flash-fried seafood and snacks — opens up Fukuda-san’s universe to a new frontier of foodies. (Ergo, it is the most casual and affordably priced restaurant in the group’s portfolio.)

Despite that unparalleled approachability, it’s clear Fukuda and his team remain committed to ingredients of serious quality. For starters: the oil used to deep-fry all of the restaurant’s tempura is of the pure, cold-pressed Taihaku variety. This is up to 6 times more expensive than conventional frying oil, but Fukuda swears by the lighter and more delicately scented morsels that Taihaku produces.

A selection of rice bowls (averaging around $25) is served between Tuesday and Friday.


23. Kisuke, Potts Point

Japanese restaurants Sydney

Even by the standard of compact, endlessly waitlisted Japanese restaurants, Kisuke is on a different level. With just enough room for 6 diners, it’s not uncommon for devoted fans of chef-owner Yusuke Morita to book their spot months in advance.

From an open kitchen counter — assisted solely by his wife, Izumi — Morita-san prepares a variety of refined dishes inspired by the culture of washoku. Among other things, this includes such essential courses as a beautifully presented selection of seasonal sashimi (“mukozuke“) or yakimono (something grilled).

Among Japanophile foodies, Morita is particularly celebrated for edomae style sushi: a specialty he has cultivated for at least 10 years — when he opened Kisuke’s first incarnation in Willoughby.

At $200 per head, the house’s signature (and only) omakase menu certainly doesn’t fall into the “cheap eats” category. But in a city where premium sushi menus now regularly cost upward of $350, Kisuke has stayed relatively true to its value proposition.


Frequently Asked Questions

By volume and availability, the most popular Japanese restaurants in Sydney right now appear to be Sokyo and Tetsuya’s.

What is the best Japanese restaurant in the Sydney CBD?

The best Japanese restaurant in the CBD is Masuya Restaurant on O’Connell Street.

What is the best Japanese restaurant for sushi?

This is a category that is particularly competitive, but if you ask us: the best Japanese restaurants for high-end sushi omakase are Kuon, Kisuke, and Sushi Oe.


How Boss Hunting Chose The Best Japanese Restaurants In Sydney

Here at the Boss Hunting office, we’re lucky enough to regularly dine at some of Sydney’s best restaurants, whether it’s as a guest or as part of an event. Or, of course, we just go on our own dime.

Across years of dining at some of the city’s finest establishments, we’ve got a very good idea of what makes a good restaurant (and what doesn’t). Japanese food is a favourite for almost everyone in the office, so we regularly discuss our dining experiences and use that to put together lists such as this. 

We also pay close attention to other expert reviews and online reviews via platforms like Google. 

Between all of this, I feel like we have put together a very comprehensive guide to Sydney’s best Japanese restaurants. There are many that haven’t been included on this list, but we do regularly refine our food guides every few months to ensure accuracy and relevancy.

In short, if we’d recommend it to a mate, then we recommend it to our readers. It’s as simple as that. 

To read more on how we put together our guides please head on over to our editorial policy.


Did you find this list helpful? If so, check out some of our other Sydney dining content.

Chris Singh
WORDS by
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.