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The best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne

From elegant sushi bars to late-night ramen, Melbourne has it all.
Food and wine at Kisume
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 how delicious it is. It is also a transseasonal cuisine, as desireable in winter when noodle soups and ramen are the order of the day, as summer when sushi and sashimi are all you want to eat. These are 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 at Melbourne's stable of very fine Japanese diners, you'll find what you're looking for here.

Want more? We can also point you in the direction of Melbourne's best ramen shops, dumplings and whisky bars to cap off your night.

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
Hihou0025-02.jpg
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.
6
Dining area at Tempura Hajime
Photograph: Supplied
Restaurants

Tempura Hajime

icon-location-pin South Melbourne

Being almost impossible to find, and seating just 12 people, Hajime is definitely at the expensive end of the range. This is a real tempura house, and the quality of these morsels of magic compared to some of the Japanese available in Melbourne is like the difference between line-caught blue fin tuna and the fish John West rejects. 

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7
Food at Ganbare Kaz
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, Japanese

Ganbare Kaz

icon-location-pin Windsor

Brace yourselves Japanophiles: Ganbare Kaz on the Windsor end of Chapel Street is set to become your new destination for creative, top-shelf sushi, with low prices and a fitout that will impress the fussiest of hipsters.  

8
Food at Torissong
Restaurants, Japanese

Torissong

icon-location-pin Carlton

Melbourne, say hello to an avocado worth the kvetching about spendthrift Millennials. Served with zen-like simplicity – a triumvirate of wasabi, nori salt and mayo with the sweet calling-card of Kewpie – the half avo quickly seared on the robata and served in its skin with a sexy pool of sweet ponzu in the dimple.

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9
Katsu Sandwich at Future Future
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, Japanese

Future Future

icon-location-pin Richmond

If you loved Congress’ pigs head sanga, you’ll be pretty happy with Future Future’s crumbed meatball katsu-sando. Recipe: take one fat puck of beef, introduce it to a fryer, slap it in spongy white bread with a shameless amount of Kewpie mayo and tonkatsu sauce, then salvage its dignity with the fresh crunch of daikon. 

10
Food at Ima Project Cafe
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, Cafés

Ima Project Café

icon-location-pin Carlton

On a Carlton corner, Ima Project Café is breathing new life into smashed avo. Japanese twists on archetypal breakfast dishes can also be found in Ima’s miso-infused tomato baked eggs and the porridge drizzled with Mitarashi syrup, a traditional Japanese sauce made from soy sauce and sugar. Plus, the classic Japanese breakfast set of fish and rice is on the menu. 

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11
A top down shot of a bowl of ramen, with egg, noodles, nori, spr
Restaurants

Hakata Gensuke

icon-location-pin Melbourne

The reason you’ll want a queue plan for Hakata Gensuke is because you’ll always face one. This outpost of a ramen chain from Fukuoka chef Kousuke Yoshimura, and it holds Huxtaburger-like status among Japanese expats. For good reason. They only deliver tonkotsu broth, and the result is some of the best in city. 

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
Ramen At Shop Ramen
Restaurants

Shop Ramen

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

Don’t expect a bandana toting crew screaming ‘irasshaimase!’ when you walk into Pat Breen and Lydia Wegner’s soup joint. These two are ramen renegades, who roll their buckwheat noodles in a pasta maker and are pushing an eclectic mix of Japan’s favourite soup, Chinese-style pork buns, frosty shakes and caramel pie. Party down. 

More of Melbourne's best eats

Paccheri at Osteria Ilaria
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants

The 50 best restaurants in Melbourne

Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old, and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Melbourne's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, that is. So behold, our eat-and-destroy list – a guide to Melbourne's 50 best restaurants.

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