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Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne for Sushi, Sake & Ramen

From sushi and sashimi to ramen and robata – these are some of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne. You're welcome!

Ishizuka
Ishizuka

Melbourne is a city of international flavours, but one of our favourite cuisines has to be Japanese. Whether it’s a bustling ramen bar straight from Tokyo, a zen-filled café serving traditional breakfast or luxe fine diner slicing world-class sushi, we’ve got it all. If you can’t hop on a plane when your next craving hits, pull up a chair to one of these stellar Japanese restaurants – it’s the next best thing. So chopsticks at the ready, here’s our pick of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne.  

*With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, be sure to check the Victorian Government website for the latest information. Even though you can't go out and dine right now, you don't have to miss out on delicious food! Double-check with your local Japanese restaurant whether they offer delivery or takeaway.

Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne: Sushi

Minamishima
Minamishima
Minamishima

If you’ve got a pretty penny to spend, there’s arguably nowhere in Australia doing finer sushi than this luxe, intimate diner tucked away on a quiet Richmond street. Here they only serve omakase, or ‘chef’s choice’, a daily changing procession of deftly sliced, shaped, torched and brushed nigiri, presented piece by piece. The knife skills of sushi master Koichi Minamishima have been honed for over 30 years, resulting in his ability to create tastes and textures in sushi you’re unlikely to quickly forget. 

4 Lord Street, Richmond

Kenzan
Kenzan
Kenzan

A longstanding institution, Kenzan is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne – they’ve been slicing market fish and pouring sake for almost 40 years now. The years haven’t dulled their knives or their exactingly high standard of sushi, served here as nigiri by the piece, in picture perfect maki rolls, chirashi bowls or beautifully arranged sushi and sashimi plates.

45 Collins Street, Melbourne 

Hinoki Japanese Pantry
Hinoki Japanese Pantry
Hinoki Japanese Pantry

If you’re looking at quality for value, some of Melbourne’s best sushi is found in an unassuming little Japanese grocery on Smith St. Hinoki’s super fresh sushi counter spins out countless rolls, bentos and sushi platters each day, with selections that go beyond your run-of-the-mill salmon and avo. Their unconventional but extremely delicious creations include seared scallops with hollandaise sauce and a girthy futomaki roll stuffed with prawn, eel, pickled radish, gourd, shiitake mushroom, cucumber, omelette and codfish flakes.

279 Smith Street, Fitzroy


Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne: Fine Dining

Kisumé

No one could ever accuse restaurateur Chris Lucas (Chin Chin, Kong, Baby Pizza) of being unambitious. His latest restaurant is a Japanese blockbuster that spans three levels of sleek, moody dining spaces. Each has its own vibe – the basement is a vibey casual diner with a hot kitchen while the street level sports a glowing sushi bar slicing some of the freshest fish in Melbourne. However, it’s the top floor that is  Kisumé’s the crowning jewel. Here, just 12 seats are treated to a stunning succession of nigiri and delicate seasonal dishes that are the apex of both traditional technique and cutting-edge creativity.

175 Flinders Ln, Melbourne 

Ishizuka

High-end kaiseki dining comes to the city at acclaimed chef Tomotaka Ishizuka’s ultra-exclusive, hidden basement restaurant. Seating just 16, all guests are served the 11-dish tasting menu in which luxe ingredients, exceptional technique, and art gallery-level plating shine in complex yet restrained dishes. Come here for a masterclass in Japanese perfectionism. This is undoubtedly one of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne

139 Bourke St, Melbourne

Akaiito
Akaiito
Akaiito

Recently opened Akai Ito on Flinders Lane is a bold entry into the upscale Japanese dining scene. Their contemporary menu features luxe ingredients like ootoro tartare and grilled glacier 51 toothfish treated with expert precision, while a private dining room offers an omakase experience for the most discerning of diners. The main room is awash in dark hues and black marble, but a glance above reveals a dramatic blood red sculpture – a curling figure meant to represent the thread of fate connecting destined lovers.

349-351 Flinders Ln, Melbourne 

Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne: Casual Eats

279
279
279

You won’t find anywhere more calming and wholesome to have breakfast than Japanese café 279 in West Melbourne. This is a Japanese food experience to truly savour. Here they serve musubi, triangular rice balls wrapped in nori and served with a variety of toppings, which veer both traditional (pickled plum, shiso leaf, bonito flakes, salmon and cured cod roe) and modern (bacon, dukkah, or even smashed avo). The calm, minimalist space invokes instant relaxation, with considerate touches like hot hand towels and blankets making you feel at home. Pair your musubi with exactingly made coffee, customisable miso soup made to order and desserts like matcha tiramisu, mochi donuts and sesame ice cream parfait. 

279 Victoria St, West Melbourne

IMA Project
IMA Project
IMA Project

Some of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne are well worth splurging on, and IMA Project is no exception. Australian and Japanese DNA intertwine in this beautiful and bright Carlton café, where a former Sake chef and interior designer have joined forces to create a wholesome menu with an eco-conscious heart. Their signature breakfast is a traditional Japanese set meal of rice, miso soup, fish, pickles and side dishes, while more creative twists see baked eggs with red miso sugo ans avo toast seasoned with nori paste and furikake. The café takes a minimal waste approach – they transform leftover ingredients into delicious new dishes for the ultimate in sustainabilty, But that’s not all – their Proud Mary coffee grounds are proudly given a second life as compost, meaning you’ll feel good in more ways than one by eating here.

169 Elgin St, Carlton 

Purple Peanuts Café
Purple Peanuts Café
Purple Peanuts Café

Japanese cuisine is often associated with health and restraint, packed as it is with raw fish, pickles and seasonal vegetables. However, they also do comfort food with the best of them – what cold, rainy night couldn’t be improved with a hearty beef curry soba, chicken katsu burger or pork belly rice bowl? Such delights are found at easygoing eatery Purple Peanuts, where quirky knick knacks and funky tunes surround diners as they tuck into homely, nourishing feeds.

20/620 Collins St, Melbourne  

Papirica
Papirica
Papirica

This homey diner is a Smith Street sanctuary that’s popular with locals and a well-kept secret by everyone else. Undeniably of Melbourne’s finest Japanese restaurants, they’re known for their okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake packed with veg and drizzled with a cross-hatch of sauces. Papirica is run by a super-friendly Osaka expat who's always happy to guide you through the comforting menu of bowls, curries, sandwiches and cakes, with vegan options aplenty. You can even pick up some cute homewares to take home as a souvenir.

22 Smith St, Collingwood  

Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne: Ramen

Hakata Gensuke
Hakata Gensuke
Hakata Gensuke

This Japanese Melbourne institution is a steadfast shoo-in for the city’s best ramen, and their expansion into Hawthorn and Carlton hasn’t quelled the lines snaking out in front of their original CBD outpost each day.  Devotees wait patiently for bowls of their signature tonkotsu, a thick, collagen-rich pork bone soup cooked for hours to concentrate flavour. Served with springy thin noodles, tender pork chashu, wood ear mushrooms and spring onions, these are hefty bowls that’ll conquer even the most ravenous of hungers.

168 Russell St, Melbourne

Mr Ramen San
Mr Ramen San
Mr Ramen San

Tucked away inside Bourke Street’s unassuming Midcity Arcade, this cosy ramen shop will transport you instantly to the alleyways of Tokyo. It’s a given that the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne are well versed in the world of ramen. And Mr Ramen San is the real deal. Vintage posters on the wall, Sapporo on tap and warm service aren’t the only authentically Japanese things about Mr Ramen San – the noodles here are the real deal. Made in-house daily, these thin, springy wheat noodles are the perfect vehicle for their silky, aromatic tonkotsu soups. Toppings range from miso-simmered beef to fresh seafood, and even vegans are looked after with a meat-free chashu.

12a/200 Bourke St, Melbourne

Shop Ramen
Shop Ramen
Shop Ramen

This Inner-North hipster magnet has won the hearts of Melbourne’s ramen lovers with unconventional bowls spiked with everything from yuzu oil and melted cheese to hot jalapeños. In this vegetarian-friendly neck of the woods, it also stands to reason that their meatless ramen is a standout  – sunk in creamy sesame broth topped with a wholesome medley of tofu, kale, pickles, pea shoots, edamame and marinated egg. Shop’s probably also the only ramen bar in Melbourne where you can order a boozy umeshu and whisky milkshake or finish your meal with a matcha ice cream pie. Now if that doesn’t win you over as one of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne, we don’t know what will!

329 Smith St, Fitzroy

143 Plenty Rd, Preston 

Neko Neko
Neko Neko
Neko Neko

This homey diner at the end of busy Smith Street has won a loyal following for its wholesome pescatarian and vegan fare. Their ramen soups are completely plant based yet offer a superb depth of flavour. They do three varieties including a soy sauce-based broth, a spicy tofu number and our favourite, the creamy tan tan ramen enriched with sesame and soy milk. Every bowl comes topped with a dainty assortment of mashed tofu, pickles and wood ear mushrooms, while gluten-free diners are looked after with the option of swapping wheat for rice noodles.

83A Smith St, Fitzroy


Hungry for more? It’s not just the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne that are currently curbing our food cravings. Be among the first to discover the best new restaurants in Melbourne, or feast on our guides to the best dumplings, pasta and pizza in town. If you’re feeling a little stuffed after all that, then dial it back to basics with these healthy dining spots  and plant-packed vegan joints.