Plates move around on a sushi train
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The best sushi trains in Melbourne

Hop on board Melbourne's best sushi trains to feast on Japanese dishes including sushi, sashimi and more

Lauren Dinse
Contributor: Lauren Dinse
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There’s a childlike wonder that comes from visiting a sushi train. Maybe it’s the possibility of sampling endless Japanese snacks, maybe it’s the fun of eating the entire menu with your eyes, or maybe it’s the thrill of nabbing a plate before your fellow diner makes a move for it. Whatever it is, a visit to the sushi train means on you’re on the right track to a good time. 

Once you’re settled at the station, expect to pile your place with expertly crafted sashimi, sushi, nigiri and gunkan. Don’t be alarmed if you build up a jenga tower of finished plates - this just means you’re doing it right. 

Whether you’re looking for a good ice-breaker date or want to bust out the chopsticks solo, here are the best places to hop aboard the sushi train.

Still hungry? Try one of Melbourne's best Japanese restaurants or check out our guide to the best teppanyaki in Melbourne. 

The best sushi trains in Melbourne

  • Japanese
  • Windsor

You mightn’t expect to find a low-key sushi train sandwiched between bars, pubs and clubs on the buzzy Chapel Street strip – but you’ll thank us when you do. Featuring welcoming staff and rustic decor, Ganbare Kaz is an intimate sushi-slinging hangout that offers respite from the bustle of the main street. Perch beside the train and pluck off plates you fancy or go off track and order from the iPad to have a dish delivered direct to your table. If you’re drowning in the sea of circulating plates (starting at $3.50), start with a crowd favourite like the fried ebi nirigi: a plump prawn donning a crispy coat, straddling a block of rice and topped with tartare. Diners who lean plant-based won’t be treated as an afterthought, with options like pan-fried gyoza, vegetarian tempura and avocado, cucumber, and beetroot rolls. The best part is that all dishes come with a complimentary side of Chapel Street people watching.

  • Japanese
  • Melbourne

Home to Melbourne’s longest running sushi train, it’s no wonder Sakura Kaiten Sushi has gone the distance. The latest iteration of this institution can be found at its new home on Wesley Place. Taking design cues from moody izakayas, the sophisticated space features luxe accents like sculptural light fittings and deep green marble tables. While the interiors have had a glow up, the iconic culinary offering and warm ambience remains. Nab a place at the train (custom-made in Japan) to choose from the 100-strong sushi menu. All fish comes fresh from the market, and if you’re craving a taste of one of the most indulgent cuts on the market, opt for the thinly sliced, melt-in-your-mouth otoro (bluefin tuna belly).

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  • Japanese
  • Melbourne

Found yourself at Emporium all shopped out? Get ready to get revived with Tetsujin, the light-filled sushi-train-meets-BBQ-grill located on the centre’s fourth floor. Stick to the classics like delicate whitefish nigiri and raw tuna handrolls, or tiptoe out of your comfort zone with the Tetsujin tank (nigiri topped with spam, egg and cheese) and the jellyfish gunkan. Most plates sit just under the $4 mark, but if you haven’t blown your budget on retail therapy, splurge on the pricier scallop sashimi and tobiko salmon belly. If you’re feeling sushi-trained out (said no-one ever), take a seat at one of the robata grills and get hands on BBQ’ing quality cuts of pork belly and marbled wagyu.

A local haunt for Bec Judd and Brendan Fevola, Kokoro has built up a bit of a celeb cult following – and with good reason. The brand’s newest Camberwell location features outrageously fun oversized trains that zip to your station loaded with fresh temaki, uramaki and nigiri. In addition to a schmick Shinkansen, there is also a vintage steam train model that is almost as impressive as the precious cargo it carries. Alongside sushi and sashimi, Kokoro also boasts an enticing array of hot snacks like takoyaki, spring rolls, prawn twisters, gyoza and calamari rings.

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  • Melbourne

Ever been stuck in Federation Square desperate for a feed that doesn’t involve churros? Look no further than Chocolate Buddha – a stalwart of the CBD dining scene for over 20 years. Thanks to a 2019 refurb by Peter Maddison, the space is bigger and more polished than ever. Swing by at lunch to catch Melbourne’s first high-speed Shinkansen in action, delivering everything from Korean fried chicken to the venue’s signature, scallop-sauce-slathered Buddha’s Fire inside out rolls. If you’re steering clear of gluten, Chocolate Buddha has got you covered with a dedicated GF menu featuring the likes of ocean trout nigiri and salmon tobiko maki.

After a dining hit list?

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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