The best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne

Hungry for the city's finest Japanese joints? Dig in, brothers and sisters
A shot of chef Koichi Minamishima behind the counter preparing f
Photograph: Graham Denholm
By Time Out editors |
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"Fashion changes, but style endures". Coco Chanel could have been talking about Japanese food, which will ever be en vogue thanks to its goddamn deliciousness. Say "konnichiwa" to the city's finest places to enjoy sushi, sashimi, sake and so much more. Whether you want to dip into a cosy inn-style café or hobnob with the glitterati, you'll find what you're looking for here. We can also point you in the direction of Melbourne's best ramen shops, dumplings and cocktail bars.

Best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne

1
Cutting fish at Ishizuka
Restaurants, Japanese

Ishizuka

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Ishizuka is a new Japanese restaurant specialising in a kaiseki menu. In a commitment-phobic world it almost requires a session with a therapist to sign up for a 10-plus-course, two-plus-hour procession of miniaturised dishes for $220 a head, sans drinks. But Ishizuka is worth the time, expense, and trouble of finding it. 

2
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Restaurants

Minamishima

icon-location-pin Richmond
Minamishima might just be serving Melbourne's best sushi. Former Kenzan sushi master Koichi Minamishima will guide you through the set menu; sommelier Randolph Cheung (ex-Flower Drum) will keep the saké flowing.
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3
Rice noodles at Kisume
Restaurants, Japanese

Kisume

icon-location-pin Melbourne

The opening of a restaurant from Chris Lucas, the svengali behind Melbourne greats Chin Chin, Hawker Hall, Kong and Baby, is generally accompanied by the kind of media hoopla reserved for retiring members of the Royal family, so here’s the deal: all you have heard about Kisume, the Lucas Group’s three floors of Nipponesque dining power, is true, and then doubly so. 

4
Izakaya Den
Restaurants

Izakaya Den

icon-location-pin Melbourne
Descend below street level for this taste of Tokyo that pays equal attention to its dishes and drinks. The corridor-like space is adorned with an extensive range of saké and beer, and food from the open kitchen arrives quickly. 
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5
Kenzan
Restaurants

Kenzan

icon-location-pin Melbourne
This Melbourne institute for Japanese cuisine has a menu that spans classics and more contemporary small plates. There’s something special about watching your food being prepared by sushi connoisseurs.
6
Shoya
Restaurants

Shoya

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Spread over six levels, this monolith of a restaurant covers everything that makes Japanese food great. From relaxed yakiniku (grilled meat cooked on a smokeless barbecue) to modern fine dining and even a karaoke bar, Shoya showcases Japanese culture. 
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7
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Bars, Cocktail bars

Hihou

icon-location-pin Melbourne
Press the buzzer and you’ll be collected at the door and escorted into this shrine to grace and decorum. Match delicious bar nibbles with updated classic cocktails: try the Negro-kan (Negroni) with plum-infused gin, Umeshu (plum wine) and Campari.
8
Hinoki Japanese Pantry
Restaurants

Hinoki Japanese Pantry

icon-location-pin Fitzroy
If fluorescent sweets and pocky sticks make your heart beat faster, this sleek supermarket is for you. The accompanying sushi bar means serious business. Pre-made lunch packs are available, but most fish is sliced on demand for those dining in.
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9
Nobu
Restaurants

Nobu

icon-location-pin Southbank
More than a little bit glamorous, Nobu’s Melbourne incarnation ups the exclusivity at Crown Casino. Here, Japanese cuisine meets Peruvian flavours – one visit and you'll see why chef Nobu Matsuhisa is world-famous.
10
Saki006.jpg
Restaurants

Saké Restaurant and Bar

icon-location-pin Southbank
Perched underneath Hamer Hall, Saké is decorated with polished concrete and pops of colour. The menu is innovative and experimental – dishes constantly evolve with the seasons. Drinks are swift: shochu and saké are the headline acts (combine the two for a Japanese Martini). 
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11
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Restaurants

Wabi Sabi Salon

icon-location-pin Collingwood
We love Wabi Sabi Salon's styling, which nods to Japanese street-food shacks and rural seaside villages. The food is cheap without sacrificing taste, and there’s plenty of choice for vegans and vegetarians. 
12
Cibi
Restaurants

Cibi

icon-location-pin Collingwood
With a focus on quality organic ingredients, this café offers an honest and endearing approach to food. Offering a mix of Japanese and Western breakfast and lunch options, the Japanese breakfast plate (weekends only) is where this humble gem really shines.
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13
Kobe Jones
Restaurants

Kobe Jones

icon-location-pin Docklands
Kobe Jones, right by the Yarra River, combines Japanese flavours and Californian flair. The menu is designed for grazing, with all plates made to be shared. Staff are knowledgeable and attentive, and most dietary requirements are catered to.

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