I don’t know about you but I could quite comfortably subsist solely on Japanese food. With such a broad range of delicacies, the consistent factor true to Japanese cuisine, and the main cause of my emotional dependency, is its freshness. Whether you’re in the mood for something steamed, vegetable filled, fried, raw or sizzling on a stick, Japanese is always the answer. To save you the time sifting endlessly through menus and restaurants, we’ve assembled the best eats that Brisbane has to offer. So grab some friends, raise a glass of saké and kanpai (cheers) to Brisbane’s vibrant Japanese scene.
1. Harajuka Gyoza | Various Locations
Harajuku Gyoza, true to its namesake, has mastered the humble Gyoza, or Japanese dumpling. Served Izakaya style in an informal, after-work setting, the little tasty meat and vegetable parcels are destined to be enjoyed with beer, wine, saké and excellent company.
2. Wagaya | Fortitude Valley
At Wagaya, order from a range of fresh sushi, tempura and noodle dishes direct to your table via touchscreen. Sleek private booths and dark timber interiors make for a luxurious, authentic setting quite welcomingly in contrast to the affordable menu.
3. Saké Restaurant & Bar | Brisbane
It’s no surprise that Saké often quickly springs to mind when one thinks of excellent Japanese in Brisbane. Their multi-award winning Eagle Street Pier kitchen puts a contemporary spin on classic Japanese flavours, combining innovation and tradition in its atmospheric setting.
4. Bird’s Nest Yakitori | South Brisbane
Bird’s Nest’s founders, Emi and Marie, bring years of special training in the art of Yakitori cooking to their South Brisbane kitchen. By sourcing high-quality local and international ingredients and Binchoutan or white charcoal for cooking, the pair dish up the best sizzling skewered meats around town. Try the chicken tenderloins with Wasabi mayo and top them off with some roasted green tea ice cream.
5. Nikuya Japanese Restaurant | Fortitude Valley
Nikuya prides itself in dishing up the finest Japanese BBQ and Tonkatsu, a breaded, deep-fried pork-cutlet delicacy, in Brisbane. Nestled in the heart of Fortitude Valley, Nikuya’s free parking and extensive Sake bar offering traditional Japanese beverages, craft beers and fine wines, make it a flavour-fuelled experience not to miss.
6. Mizu Japanese | Newstead & West End
Mizu’s menu is a contemporary fusion of traditional Japanese favourites and unique Mizu specialties such as “mizupaccio”, a sashimi dish with soy, grape seed oil, shiso flakes and fresh lemon. Can’t wait until sundown for your Japanese hit? On weekends, Mizu serves up breakfast bento boxes, Mizu Omelettes and okonomiyaki or savoury Japanese shredded-cabbage pancakes.
7. Taro’s Ramen | Brisbane City & Ascot
By using only the freshest natural ingredients and avoiding MSG and preservatives, Taro’s philosophy is to strike the perfect combination of flavours and provide the most delicious bowl of ramen in Australia. Open seven days a week, the busy lunchtime crowds at Taro’s seem to indicate their success. Go try some for yourself!
8. Sushi Kotobuki | Brisbane City
For delicious sushi at affordable prices, Sushi Kotobuki is your best friend. Their wide menu also offers sashimi, Donburi or rice bowls, salads, noodles, tantalizing sides and desserts. Open for both lunch and dinner, it’s the perfect city escape to enjoy a sparkling saké or Japanese whiskey after work with friends.
9. Sono Japanese Restaurant| Brisbane City & Hamilton
For an authentic taste of Japanese tradition, look no further than Sono. Boasting an extensive menu containing everything from fresh sushi and sashimi to Japanese salads, hot pots, yakitori or grilled meat on skewers, noodle based dishes and decadent, creative desserts.
If you find yourself paralysed by indecision, invite 3 friends and indulge in a dinner tasting course with matched wines or a share banquet, so as to try a little of everything.
10. Hai Hai Ramen | Paddington
Ramen lovers, rejoice! Hai Hai dishes up hot, wholesome bowls of ramen to warm the soul. With nothing over $16 on the menu, it’s a perfect spot for casual mid-week dining with friends. Choose from a base of Pork, Chicken or Vegetable broth and pick your various add-ons accordingly.
11. Hosokawa Japanese Restaurant | Hamilton
In the Hamilton dining district, Hosokawa offers a la carte share plates featuring traditionally inspired options like grilled eggplant with miso paste and slow cooked pork belly along with an expansive sushi and sashimi menu. Their casual outdoor dining setting makes Hosokawa the perfect suburban hotspot for a fresh and tasty mid-week meal.
12. Bishamon Japanese | Spring Hill
Though inconspicuously nestled among other Spring Hill businesses, Bishamon deserves a special mention and indeed a visit. Delicate paper lampshades adorn the interior and provide a beautiful contrast to the building’s exposed-brick walls. The menu boasts everything from intricately assembled fresh sashimi, seared or steamed gyoza and our personal recommendation; the Chef’s specialty, a simmering Wagyu beef and vegetable hot pot.
13. Sushi Edo | Various Locations
The sheer volume and variety of freshly cooked sushi on the rolling conveyor belts of Sushi Edo stores is something to be marvelled over.
At just $3.50 a plate and the option for takeaway, there’s a high chance that a Sushi Edo in your neighbourhood will rapidly become your ‘regular’.
14. Suki Restaurant | South Brisbane
Suki specializes in poke bowls and sushi burritos, the latest cross-cultural super-food creations to grace our streets (and our insta-feeds).
Poke bowls combine Hawaiian and Japanese flavors to culminate in a salty-sweet, deconstructed-sushi salad that is every bit as tasty as it is gram-worthy. Traditionally, poke contains marinated ahi tuna, brown rice, pineapple cubes, seaweed and shallots. At Suki, you get to pick your own ingredients and tailor your sushi burrito or poke experience, making it the perfect healthy lunch pit-stop.
15. Sushi & Nori | Bowen Hills
Sushi & Nori has a simple yet humbling premise- they make honest, healthy food with pride.Putting a modern-spin on the much loved sushi train experience, Sushi & Nori offers top quality Japanese dining in a casual setting. At lunchtime, guests assemble around the buzzing sushi train or opt for a few plates to go. Have an event coming up? They also dish up party platters for special occasions that’ll be sure to impress your guests.
16. Shabuhouse | Brisbane City
Shabuhouse is a fusion Japanese buffet in the heart of Brisbane. It prides itself in offering high quality meats and vegetables for inclusion in their signature dish, Shabu-shabu, a hotpot delicacy of thinly sliced meats and veggies boiled in water by the diner. Spacious tables and a warmly lit interior make it a perfect spot for interactive dining with friends.
17. Sakana Japanese Dining Bar | Clayfield
Despite being on busy Sandgate Road, Sakana offers an authentic glimpse of Japan in its quiet and comforting setting. Featuring a wide range of ‘special’ sushi rolls that’ll excite even the most regular of sushi eaters, Sakana is a not to miss north side lunch pick.
18. Oishii Sushi Bar | Sunnybank
Known for the expert craftsmanship of its sushi chefs, Oisshi Sushi Bar is second to none for freshness, colour and flavour. As it’s not a sushi train, each plate is produced freshly to order and reaches the table more closely resembling a culinary artwork than your classic 4-piece tuna-avocado.
19. Fresh Fish Co. | Fortitude Valley
A combined passion for top-quality fish, seafood and culinary craftsmanship led creators, Toki & Gus, to establish Fresh Fish & Fresh Sushi Co, a ruby in the James Street Precinct. Diners enjoy the results of Toki’s expert knife skills, mastery of delicate flavours and passion for sashimi in a clean and lively atmosphere.
20. Mitoki Japanese Modern Tapas | Kangaroo Point
Just a stones throw from the city, Mitoki serves up authentic and creative Japanese tapas. At predominantly under $10 per plate, it’s the perfect place to sample a range of things, like their deep-fried lotus root chips or sweet-chili chicken karaage, over a cocktail (or 4).