Japanese cuisine has long attracted enormous attention around the world. Aside from the awesome aesthetics and the food quality, the freshness and taste of the delicate flavours of Japan continues to leave Sydneysiders wanting more. CHRISTINE BUHAY and CLAIRE FELICES have compiled a list of Japanese cafes and restaurants that have been making a buzz in the Sydney food scene. Has your favourite made their list?
Raita Noda Chef’s Kitchen
222 Riley St, Surry Hills Ph: 0451 068 815
Raita Noda Chef’s Kitchen is an Asian fusion restaurant – a modern take on traditional Japanese cuisine using fresh local ingredients. Quite the norm would be a chef’s selection instead of the more traditional menu depending on what produce are available. They have vegetarian and gluten free options and a more relaxed atmosphere than an ordinary restaurant. More like an open kitchen and a bar. It is always full so booking is essential. raitanoda.com.au facebook.com/raitanoda.sydney
Sake Restaurant & Bar
33 Cross St., Double Bay Ph: (02) 9259 5600
A traditional Japanese cuisine with a contemporary twist, this restaurant serves, of course, amazing sakes and is open for lunch, dinner and drinks. Diners can opt for a vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or no raw Japanese food choices. They have a full bar and could assist in your wine pairings for your meals.facebook.com/SakeRestaurant sakerestaurant.com.au
21 Alberta St, Sydney Ph: 02 8068 9774
Restaurant Sasaki is quite like visiting Shimane, Japan since most of the cutlery, fittings are from where Yu Sasaki, the owner, hails from. No expense was spared recreating this place that truly feels authentic. The food is divine, freshly made. The atmosphere, it is like being transported to another place. sasaki.com.au facebook.com/Sasaki
80 Pyrmont St., Pyrmont ; PHONE 02 9657 9181
Traditional Japanese craftsmanship to contemporary flavours with a twist, Sokyo is innovation to your customary Japanese dining experience. Open for dinner and drinks, your server can help create your own “Sokyu menu” and the house Sake Sommelier to choose the accompanying sake for your dishes. facebook.com/SokyoAtTheStar star.com.au/sokyo
252 George Street, Sydney; PHONE 02 9240 3000
A wonderful experience awaits you at Merivale’s Sushi E. One of the few authentic sushi bars in Sydney, they make fresh ingredients into edible works of art. Their nigiris never fail to impress, the flavours clean and distinct. The salmon tartare looks too good to eat but eat you shall and it will be bliss. With an extensive list of wines, sakes and cocktails to match your lunch or dinner experience, it’s a safe bet you will come back to Sushi E. Soon.
Find SUSHI E at Level 4 Establishment 252 George Street, Sydney; PHONE 02 9240 3000 merivale.com.au/sushie
A rustic Japanese restaurant for the lover of authentic Japanese food, Toriciya is the place to go for a taste of excellent traditional Japanese dishes. It is the first authentic Yakitori bar in Sydney. Try their sushi, it’s the best this side of North Shore or their tuna sashimi which stays true to the flavours of Japan. Top your night off with some fabulous sake and shochu to go with your food choices.
Find TORICIYA at 18 Cammeray Rd., Cammeray; PH 02 9907 2277
EDITION COFFEE ROASTERS
Coffee is the ritualistic beverage for mornings. For edition coffee roasters, it is so much more than that. A cafe and small batch roasters, they offer breakfast, lunch and coffee. Their seasonal dishes can be accompanied with your choice of coffee or try some of the tea that they carry. They are open for dinner on Saturdays and Sundays.
Find Edition Coffee Roasters at 256 Liverpool St., Darlinghurst; editioncoffeeroasters.com
Tetsuya is a luxurious Japanese dining fort serving a ten course degustation menu priced at $220 per person. The cuisine is unique, based on the Japanese philosophy of using natural seasonal flavours, and enhanced by classic French technique. Quite expensive but this restaurant is irrefutably one of Sydney’s best.
Find TETSUYA’S at 529 Kent Street, Sydney; PHONE 02 9267 2900; www.tetsuyas.com
Azuma is fortunate to have one of Sydney’s finest Japanese chefs, Kimitaka Azuma. This culinary genius brings his own unique craftsmanship to a varied menu of traditional Japanese dishes, including some of Sydney’s freshest and highest-quality sushi and sashimi. Having been the first to cater to Australia’s awakening to Japanese cuisine in the early 1990s, Azuma serves both traditional and contemporary interpretations that are given the strength of Australian produce.
Find AZUMA at 2 Chifley Square Sydney CBD, NSW 2000; PHONE 02 9222 9960; www.azuma.com.au
MAKOTO SUSHI BAR
If you’re happy to wait, especially for seats at the sushi bar, then you’ll generally have a great experience at Makoto in Liverpool St, Sydney CBD. The jazz isn the background gives their ever-buzzy vibe a New York tone, definitely transports the diners to another space. Under new ownership there’s been some online whispers that standards have dropped a bit so we’ll have to see how they go in the coming months – it’s a shame that a lot of Sydney sushi bars seem to be resting on their laurels and what was so innovative in 2001 is not necessarily so sublime in 2014. Makoto’s Chatswood bar has been also very well received by Chatswoodians.
Find MAKOTO at 119 Liverpool St, Sydney CBD; PHONE 02 9283 6767; or 336 Victoria Ave, Chatswood PHONE 02 9411 1838
OSAKA ON STANLEY
Pretty understated place that pumps out good quality sushi and sashimi and bowls of noodle soup that hit the spot. There is a wide selection for anyone including both vegetarians and vegans, the prices are reasonable, the portions are substantial and the food is top notch. If looking for great lunch, go the Chicken Katsu Curry Don Lunch Set. It includes a small salad, miso soup and rice. The chicken katsu was thick and juicy, set on top of a wire rack (good idea so the chicken remains crispy). Overall Osaka does nothing fancy, but you’re unlikely to leave disappointed.
Find OSAKA at 83 Stanley St Darlinghurst NSW 2010; PHONE 02 9331 4500
Biru Biru is Sydney’s first Japanese beer bar & restaurant. Biru Biru features craft beers from all over Japan and a delicious izakaya-style food menu including charcoal hibachi-grilled kushiyaki skewers, sushi + sashimi, gyoza, popcorn chicken, tempura and wagyu steak.
Find BIRUBIRU at 239 Victoria St Darlinghurst NSW 2010; PHONE 02 9357 3533; www.birubiru.com.au
Busshari is located in the heart of bustling Potts Point. This authentic Japanese restaurant represents the essence of Japanese cuisine; simplicity, fresh produce, creativity and unique flavour. Busshari’s decor is dark and ambient creating a sophisticated yet unpretentious feel. They specialise in Japanese style seafood including sashimi, sushi, oysters and tempura.
Find BUSSHARI at 119 Macleay St Potts Point 2011; PHONE 02 9357 4544; www.busshari.com.au
CRANE BAR SYDNEY
More than a classy Bayswater Road restaurant, Crane is also a bar and a VIP hangout. Crane offers an experience to all Sydneysiders with their striking bar and serves a mouth-watering Japanese fusion cuisine, exciting cocktail list and intoxicating atmosphere. Head Chef and Sushi master Tai Chi puts together a menu of delectable sushi and a menu that fuses western technique with eastern flavours.
Find CRANE at 32 Bayswater Road Potts Point, NSW 2011; PHONE 02 9357 3414; www.cranebar.com.au
Jazushi offers Sydney’s best blend of exquisite Japanese fusion cuisine, professional service and the finest live jazz entertainment every night. Jazushi presents a stylish and elegant dining experience that promises to be as pleasing to the ear as it is to the palate.
Find JAZUSHI at 145 Devonshire St cnr Clisdell St Surry Hills, NSW 2010; PHONE 02 9699 8977; www.jazushi.com.au
Izakaya Fujiyama is one of the trendiest Japanese restaurants in Sydney serving classic izakaya – a selection of tasty Japanese-style pub food – along with imported sake and beer. Their menu is not entirely traditional but inspires a traditional approach to sharing and sampling many dishes and drinks to appreciate what an Izakaya has to offer.
Find IZAKAYA FUJIYAMA at Shop G09, 38-52 Waterloo Street Surry Hills; PHONE 02 9698 2797; www.izakayafujiyama.com
Kaya is a premier Japanese restaurant and bar that focuses on fun cocktails, eclectic wines, yakitori and grilling over a binchotan fuelled Robata. The menu shies away from sushi based menus and incorporates less common traditional and modern dishes rarely seen throughout the Japanese dining experience Sydney has on offer. They display a fantastic product in a beautiful environment and at an extremely competitive price point whilst maintaining a professional but modest service style.
Find KAYA at 96 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst; PHONE 02 8354 0057; www.kayasydney.com
MOIM JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Experience the traditional Japanese cuisine at Moim Kitchen. Their philosophy is to stay true to the principles of Japanese cuisine. They however always experiment by combining and integrating elements of different cuisines to bring the very best of Asian food culture.
Find MOIM at 134 Oak Rd Kirrawee NSW 2232; PHONE 02 9542 3833; www.moim.com.au
Niji Sushi Bar is a visually stunning Japanese restaurant in the heart of Kingsford NSW. The a la carte menu is extensive, descriptive and offers something for even the fussiest of pallets. Each dish is presented beautifully ensuring that the delicate ingredients are properly matched to enhance the flavours of the food and to create a visual masterpiece. Niji Sushi Bar creates the perfect dining experience, every time.
Find NIJI at 333 Anzac Parade, Kingsford; PHONE 02 8068 4849; www.nijisushi.com.au
Set within an impressive designer space in the historic Argyle Precinct at The Rocks, Saké Restaurant & Bar serves up contemporary Japanese fare. You can order à la carte or from Saké’s range of set banquet menus, vegetarian and “no raw” options are also available. Saké is sure to exceed your expectations.
Find SAKE at 12 Argyle Street, The Rocks; PHONE 02 9259 5656; www.sakerestaurant.com.au
Sokyo’s cuisine is described as modern Japanese with a twist. Served in the traditional Kaiseki style, or multi-course Japanese dinner, the hot and cold dishes are designed to share. A blend of bold and complex flavours sets this menu apart, with diners able to order straight off the menu, or take advantage of a personalised dining experience.
Find SOKYO at The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont; PHONE 02 9777 9000; www.star.com.au/sokyo
THE ALIBI DARLINGHURST
The Modern Japanese menu created by Adam Lane of Tetsuya’s, Nobu London & Sake compliments the art deco design of The Alibi Darlinghurst and features contemporary dishes with a respectful nod to the elegant tradition of Japanese cuisine. The menu is cleverly designed to satisfy all dining occasions, from groups of friends enjoying share plates to more intimate evenings that call for a complete wine and dine experience.
Find THE ALIBI at Shop 1 304 Victoria St, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010; PHONE 02 9331 7897; www.thealibi.com.au/index.html
Located in the heart of Surry Hills, Sydney’s premier dining precinct, Toko offers diners the chance to experience the informal style of Japanese “izakaya” dining. Combined with Australia’s world renowned fresh produce and complimented by stunning contemporary design, the Toko dining experience lasts long after diners have left the restaurant. It’s a bit pricey but definitely worth it.
Find TOKO SURRY HILLS at 490 Crown Street, Surry Hills; PHONE 02 9357 6100; www.toko.com.au
Restaurant Toshiya is situated in Cremorne Junction which was established by owner chef Toshiya Kai in July 2010. They provide a relaxed environment for guests to enjoy their meal whilst enjoying conversations with friends and family.
Find TOSHIYA at Shop 1, 283 Military Road, Cremorne Australia 2090; PHONE 02 8969 6989; www.toshiya.com.au
The Uchi Lounge has been a favoured venue in Sydney since 1997 and has been renovated infusing a Zen design. The ambience has a peaceful vibe with modern Japanese artworks on display. They follow a strictly “No MSG” and “No Artificial Flavouring” policy leaving an indelible impression on the palate. Renowned Chef and owner Takashi Ohuchi brought his distinct fusion of old and new blending traditional Japanese and modern Australian tastes together.
Find UCHI LOUNGE at 15 Brisbane St Surry Hills NSW 2010; PHONE 02 9261 3524; www.uchilounge.com.au
UME serves up a harmonious balance between traditional and modern Japanese fair with interesting flavour combinations. Since UME’s doors opened in 2012, it has received raving reviews including One Chefs Hat in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2012.
Find UME at 478 Bourke Street, Surry Hills; PHONE 02 9380 7333; www.umerestaurant.com.au
WAQU features modern Japanese food that is reflective of how cuisine has evolved in Japan – the result is a sophisticated and harmonious blend of Japanese and Western dishes. They also cater to all dietary requirements and offer a six course menu to suit everyone. Gluten free, lactose free and vegetarian six course menus are also available.
Find WAQU at 308 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest; PHONE 02 9906 7736; www.waqu.com.au
Chef and owner Yoshii is one of Sydney’s most inventive chefs. He is renowned for his creativity and adventurous cuisine which is a truly sensational and satisfying experience. He experiments with new ingredients in his cuisine, which may seem bizarre or avant-garde, surprising the palate of adventurous food lovers and bringing them to a newer level of stimulation and a wider perspective of contemporary Japanese cuisine.
Find YOSHII at 115 Harrington Street, The Rocks; PHONE 02 9247 2566; www.yoshii.com.au
Zushi Restaurant offers a great range of sushi and sashimi from the sushi bar, as well as izakaya favorites from the kitchen and grill. Try their sashimi of the day with chilli ponzu sauce, a Zushi Ocean roll or their mouth-watering Tajima wagyu steak marble score 8+.
Find ZUSHI at Shop 2A, 285A Crown St Surry Hills NSW; PHONE 02 9380 8830; www.zushi.com.au