These are the best Japanese Restaurants in Sydney for any occasion

Japanese food is a prodigious delight in wintertime. That is not an overstatement by any measure. From ramen noodles swimming in tonkotsu broth, oden for the warmth, and charred yakitori ordered round a table, Japanese cuisine sets the benchmark for sharing foods and nourishing even the coldest of souls left behind this Sydney Winter. Christened in Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli multiverse and diverse in region and offerings, there's no shortage of star-studded Japanese restaurants populating Sydney. As someone whose parents manufacture Japanese goods and who generally ingests an eyewatering amount of salmon nigiri, I'd like to consider myself somewhat of a fan.

The correlation is this: I've eaten my way across a fair share of the watering holes this city has to offer, and I've resurfaced with extensive notes. For your perusal and to beat the wintry chill, these are some of the best Japanese restaurants across East, Innerwest and Inner Sydney.


Kurumac, Marrickville


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Best known for: Matcha, that Mentaiko Cod Roe Melt, WFH days and pooch-window shopping.

Japanese cafes are a serious game in Sydney. Kurumac is an established all-day contender slinging matcha drinks, tempura loaded udon bowls, curry-drenched rice dishes and onigiris. The Mentaiko Cod Roe Melt served on Shokupan Japanese milk bread is not to be messed with. We'll take two.


Cho Cho San, Potts Point

Best known for: Apt vegan dishes, infused cocktails, and Modern Japanese in an airy space.

Cho Cho San with a soy-milk pudding that is Nigella-approved. Need we say more?


Gumshara, Haymarket


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Best known for: The best ramen in Sydney. It's not a light title to bestow.

Gumshara is the ramen spot that has defended its title for years. Even with a location swap, no bookings and a cash-only policy that's never wavered in the face of big credit, the humble stall has earned its cult status as the undisputed ramen dive for anyone who's after real Tonkotsu. I had my first bowl in 2017 as a fresh import in Sydney, and I've never had broth as velvety on the tongue.

Rei Izakaya, CBD

Best known for: Oden, getting your drinks on, and delicious yakitori.

Rei Izakaya makes for a clandestine date spot, even though it's nestled in the heart of Town Hall. Just off Sussex Street, the restaurant is essential for late-night gatherings of any kind. They've also perfected their Oden, and the Japanese Fish Cake stew is the winter warmer you didn't know you needed.


Azuki Bakery, Enmore

Best known for: A dizzying array of Japanese baked goods at killer prices.

Azuki Bakery is the spot I frequent the most on this list. Out of pure happenstance, as well - as it's in my neck of the woods. But even if it wasn't, I'd still make good mileage for their cream puffs, matcha pans, and all of their rotating specials. You'll find me here tucking into a fish fillet burger.


Domo 39, St Peters


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Best known for: Konbini (Convenience) store offerings, onigiri, and bentos to grab on the go.

Domo 39 is a clever play on Thank You, in Japanese. And store-concept visionary Eugene Ng has similarly imbued this cafe slash concept store with a playful rendition of a Japanese Konbini, trimmed to a Sydney-first practicality. The open-fridge takeaway offers bentos filled with salted salmon, mentaiko, roe and pickled vegetables, house-made onigiris, as well as enough space for you to perch on crates or inside their light-filled venue. Prices for onigiri start at $5. Walk, don't run.


Ramen Auru, St. Leonards


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Best known for: An unmissable, authentic ramen experience in Sydney.

Of course people flock to Auru for the noodles, but the experience is hard to miss. As Sydney's first vending machine ramen spot, a practice that is commonly found in Japan, customers will receive their shio or miso broths crowding over counters and on tatami seats. This is the closest we'll get without grabbing our blue books and flying Eastward.


Get Sashimi, Bondi Beach


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Best known for: Sydney's first sashimi bar, a rolling sushi train by the beach.

There's an 8-meter glass container housing all of your sashimi goods. If the former pick was the closest we'd get to Nippon, this sashimi bar is an all-Australian one-stop shop for all your raw fish needs. Head to Campbell Parade for the fatty tuna and then beat the waves.


Menya Noodle Bar, Haymarket

Best known for: A killer selection of Tsukemen, speedy service, unbeatable prices.

Menya Noodle Bar has been a mainstay fixture on Quay Street since, well, almost forever. The outpost on the cusp of Chinatown is a quintessential lunch spot for any hearty noodle fixes. Opt for the tsukemen, or Japanese dipped noodles – they are as good as they come.


Tokyo Lamington, Newtown


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Known for: Lamingtons, scrolls, a frothy-hot matcha.

Tokyo Lamington can be found in three branches across Newtown, Marrickville, and Carlton in the faraway land of Naarm. My favourite is the Newtown one, which is perfect for busying yourself with a mug of brewed matcha and a something sweet to wash it down.


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