Head to the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne for sushi train, bento sets, rare Kobe beef and sake on tap.

Akaiito

If discreet fine dining with dramatic Japanese flair is on your wish list, enter the world of Akaiito. Dark and moody, lit by a rosy ribbon of light overhead, it’s tailor-made for clandestine catch-ups. Take your seat by the show kitchen to watch as the robata chefs and sushi masters prepare your eight-course set menu. From the Wagyu tartare to the robata chargrilled kingfish collar, it’s a gourmet degustation.

Onsen Japanese

Visit Tokyo in Melbourne at this cosy hidden gem. Pop-in for a quick lunch at Onsen Japanese for its signature flavour-packed tonkotsu ramen and choose the spicy version if you like a good kick. Or try 'soupless' mazeman ramen, crispy karaage fried chicken, katsu curry and more authentic bites.

Two people are sitting at a ramen bar
Onsen Japanese

Ototo

Akaiito's 'younger brother', Ototo is not to be overlooked. The comfortable dining space with booth seating is ideal for big groups of friends. Unlike Akaiito, Ototo presents a more casual vibe. Choose from a selection of Asian-inspired tapas and snacks, sharing plates, or the signature feed me menu.

Waku Waku

Melbourne's first Japanese soup curry diner is now open on Little Bourke Street. Seek out Waku Waku for this special dish from the snowy island of Hokkaido. Choose from flame-grilled chicken, Wagyu beef or vege tempura then dig into this warming dish with an aromatic broth. Feeling extra famished? Snack-able sides like bear-stamped rolled omelette, crispy karaage are also on the menu.

Waku Waku

Mr Ramen San

Hidden in one of Melbourne’s most underrated arcades, Mr Ramen San is a cosy spot serving some of the city’s best ramen. The soup is made in the traditional Kyushu style, with pork bones in white broth. Charsu (roast pork) is char-grilled with peppercorns before serving. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available.

Tetsujin

Ride the lift to join Tetsujin’s Tokyo-style train. The bright tiled station takes centre stage, with the darker robata grill to the side. Tempura pumpkin nigiri and lobster inari are around $4, with assorted sashimi from $9. To make your meal complete, order a summery watermelon cocktail from Tetsuijin’s legendary bar. Find it on level 4 of Emporium Melbourne.

A black bowl filled with sashimi at a restaurant and a watermelon cocktail.
Tetsujin

Dohtonbori

The first of its kind in Melbourne, Dohtonbori is a popular export from Japan specializing in okonomiyaki. Plate up fresh cabbage pancakes at the helm of your personal teppanyaki hot plate, then load it with kimchi, lobster, pork belly and more.

Sakedokoro Namara

Sake on tap, whisky highballs and a ‘hallucination cocktail’ made with mushroom infused gin. Sakedokoro Namara is one of many new hidden neighborhood gems you need to discover in North Melbourne. Pair your sake flight (or happy hour tipple) with the chef’s ‘omakase’ box. It’s nine small bites like rolled omelette, scallops, torched unagi and more.

A wooden box filled with small Japanese food dishes.
Sakedokoro (Photo by @SofiaKLevin for What's On)

Ichigo

With its ultra-chic aesthetic, Ichigo puts a modern twist on traditional Japanese eats. Dishes are just as pretty as the space. Especially the ichi-rashi – sashimi, caviar, pickled daikon, avocado mousse and freshly-grated wasabi on a bed of rice. Finish your sitting with a slice of strawberry shortcake and a matcha latte.

Robata

'Robata' is a centuries-old Japanese grilling technique and that's what the crew here do best. The menu is designed to be shared, so you get to try a little of everything. Order yakitori and kushiyaki skewers cooked on the charcoal grill, and fresh sashimi. Expect fun and casual dining, with neon lights and street signs cascading from the ceiling.

A cocktail, a beer and plates of sushi on a table.
Robata

Mugen Ramen

What’s cooler than a tiny robot-themed laneway bar projecting anime from the ceiling? The neighbouring ramen shop with a secret basement bar. Located down Bligh Place off Flinders Lane with essentially no signage, it’s not hard to skip right over Mugen. But it’s worth a detour for their classic ramen and tsukemen (dipping ramen). Order side dishes to share and crack a few bevs downstairs. 

Torissong

Never tried Teishoku? Make a beeline to Torissong and right that wrong ASAP. A curated selection of rice, pickles, soup and rotating main is served here on the daily in neat wooden trays. Opt for teriyaki lamb ribs, char-grilled eel and pork katsu. Sides include curry, runny onsen egg, sashimi and more. They even have a cute mini bento for kids under 12. .

A wooden board filled with Japanese food
Torissong (Photo by @SofiaKLevin for What's On)

More high-end Japanese dining

Nobu

Nobu

Renowned for its innovative Japanese cuisine, stylish decor and city skyline views.

Yakimono

Yakimono

Yakimono is a high energy Japanese-inspired eating house.

Kisumé

Kisumé

Exquisite sushi and one of the city's finest wine cellars.

Sake Restaurant & Bar

Sake Restaurant & Bar

This luxurious dining space at Hamer Hall offers premium Japanese dishes and sake.

Best Japanese cafes

Ilza

Ilza

Located at Docklands, this is the place for homely Japanese style food and drinks.

Fuumi Fuumi

Fuumi Fuumi

A Japanese bakery and cafe with lunch specials and freshly baked pastries.

Saint Dreux

Saint Dreux

Speciality coffee bar offering Japanese-style katsu sando, cakes and pastries at Emporium Melbourne.

The Budapest Cafe

The Budapest Cafe

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

Best Japanese desserts

Uncle Tetsu

Uncle Tetsu

Takeaway store selling soft and fluffy Japanese-style cheesecakes.

ADOZEN ADOZEN

ADOZEN ADOZEN

Cafe serving soufflé-style pancakes.

Coppe Pan

Coppe Pan

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

Last updated on Tue 20 Feb 2024

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