Cancelled a Tokyo trip? Make up for it with Izakaya dining, crispy katsu, anime bars and rare whisky dens. And if you want more, check out our guide to finding cult status Japanese products in the city.

A sandwich filled with cream and fruit

Cube bread and sando

Seemingly overnight Melbourne became obsessed with milk bread. Or Shokupan, for those in the know. The fluffy white slices typically emerge from bakery ovens in a perfectly uniform cube. City spots Coppe Pan, Bakemono and Le Bajo all bake the good stuff on site. Find it in action when you order crispy katsu sando, the quintessential Japanese snack.

Where to order katsu sando

Saint Dreux

Speciality coffee bar offering Japanese-style katsu sando, sponge cakes and pastries.

Coppe Pan

Baking fresh four times daily, Coppe Pan has your gourmet sandwich craving covered.

Meet Sando

Meet Sando is a daytime fast casual restaurant, located within the Queen Victoria Market complex

279

279 cafe offers speciality coffee, tea and traditional Japanese fare.

Two souffle-style pancakes on a plate.

Aesthetic brunch sets

From jiggly cheesecake to mountainous shaved ice, sweet brunching in Japan is almost an extreme sport. Travel with your taste buds to Adozen Adozen for a feather-light soufflé pancake and bliss out. All the equipment in store is from Japan, and the chefs trained there too. For a traditional set, Ima project café does a refined grilled salmon, onigiri and miso plate for breakfast most days. But even they can't resist a little fusion – the umami smashed avo is a nori-loaded twist on a brunch classic.

More Japanese-inspired brunch spots

The Budapest Cafe

A hidden gem of Carlton, inspired by Wes Anderson’s film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

ichigō

Aesthetically pleasing and high quality Japanese-inspired dishes served in a thought provoking space

Calia

Japanese-inspired food and retail space with high quality dishes and premium foodstuffs for home.

Sweetie and Moustache

Dessert central with the delicate and complex mille crepe cake being a specialty.

People sitting at a bar

Whisky dens and Izakaya

Wandering down narrow lantern-lit laneways to discover tiny diners is the Tokyo dream. Yamato nails the Memory Lane vibe (yes, we know it's not always called that) with a hidden location in the middle of Melbourne's narrowest laneway. Visit for imported sake, karaage, shabu shabu and wall-to-wall kitsch. Looking for a relaxing time? Make it a Summer's Garden Bar time. This new spot in North Melbourne specialises in super rare whisky, wine and sake from Japan.

Where to find Izakaya style dining

Izakaya Den 2029

Japanese classics and a great selection of sake.

Hakata Gensuke

Original Russell Street branch, specialising in Japan's famous pork bone noodle soup, tonkotsu.

Mr Ramen San

Mr Ramen San serves Japanese ramen all the way from Hakata, Japan.

Kaneda Japanese Restaurant

In Midcity Arcade, serving a range of teppanyaki, sushi, sashimi, bento boxes, tempura and noodles.

A screen at a bar playing animated shows

Anime and Otaku culture

Tokyo lovers of the geek persuasion are probably craving a Super Potato session by now. Get the Akihabara experience on a smaller scale at Robot Bar, where anime is projected from the ceiling. Then pick up cult-fave merch like Persona 5 tumblers, Studio Ghibli artwork and Hello Kitty Gundam gear at Melbourne's Mandarake equivalents.

Where to shop for Japanese pop culture

One Stop Anime

Stocks a wide variety of Japanese anime and associated merchandise.

Critical Hit

Locally owned pop culture store selling video games, comic books, plushies, trading cards and more.

Minotaur Entertainment

Minotaur is Melbourne’s premier pop culture store, with books, collectibles, magazines and more.

Outre Gallery

Alternative art gallery specialising in lowbrow, pop surrealism and underground art.

A group of girls at an arcade

UFO catchers and capsule machines

The futuristic ‘UFO Catchers’ at Million Life near the Target Centre are cute as can be. Test your coordination skills to win Gudetama plushies, Pokémon keychains and luxury brand items. Further up the arcade is a small collection of 'Gacha Gacha' (capsule toy machines). Want more? Neko Cards in Little Lonsdale Street has an entire floor dedicated to Gacha Gacha. Play to score everything from Doraemon figurines to oddly satisfying mini toaster toys.

More uniquely Japanese experiences

Tanto

High-end Japanese knife shop offering handcrafted and specialty knives and sharpening services.

Mui Karaoke

Karaoke in loads of languages with over 300,000 songs, clean rooms and delicious whisky and soju.

Lupicia Fresh Tea

Japanese tea company offering over 400 varieties of high quality tea in both bag and loose form.

Sakura Kaiten Sushi II

Second outlet of the popular Japanese sushi train restaurant in Lonsdale Street.

Last updated on Fri 16 Apr 2021

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