The 20 Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne

These Melbourne diners serve up some of the best sushi, ramen, gyoza, omakase and regional Japanese food in the city.
Andrew Zuccala
January 16, 2024

The 20 Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne

These Melbourne diners serve up some of the best sushi, ramen, gyoza, omakase and regional Japanese food in the city.

Melbourne is obsessed with Japanese food and has been for many decades. The city is absolutely packed with sushi joints, omakase fine-diners, ramen dens and izakayas, as well as more contemporary Japanese fusion eateries. You'll find them in the CBD and scattered all over the burbs.

We're spoilt for choice. But that makes finding the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne a mighty hard task. Thankfully, our crew of writers and editors has spent many years eating and drinking around town to uncover the 20 greatest. Find them all here, ranked.

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  • 20
    Eazy Peazy - one of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne.

    Richmond’s izakaya-style restaurant Eazy Peazy champions yakitori and kushiyaki eats cooked over the hibachi grill. Here, you can fill up on skewers alone — think wagyu beef, yellowfin tuna, king mushrooms and squid — but you best save room for the steak, pork doughnuts and sashimi.

    The 100-seat site on Swan Street has a stacked drinks menu featuring ample sakes, beers, whiskies, wines and Japanese-inspired cocktails. Either drop by Eazy Peazy — one of Melbourne’s best Japanese restaurants — for chill drinks and snacks with mates or for a blow-out feast.

    Image: Carly Ravenhall

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  • 19
    Yakimono restaurant in Melbourne CBD - Japanese restaurant Melbourne

    From the mind of Chris Lucas (Chin Chin, Hawker Hall, Kisume, Grill Americano, Society) comes Yakimono — a two-storey Japanese diner with a street food menu that’s fuelled by fire. An ode to the late-night izakayas of Tokyo, Yakimono serves a fresh riff on Japanese street eats, melding classic flavours with a touch of Melbourne flair.

    Our favourite spot is up by the kitchen, watching the grill masters do their thing, or upstairs in the semi-private dining room surrounded by iridescent windows. And while it lasts, check out Yakimono’s happy hour every Thursday from 4–6pm, at which you’ll drink $9.50 cocktails and get discounted eats at all of the Lucas Group venues.

    Image: Pete Dillon

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  • 18
    Kazuki - one of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne.

    Soon after closing down its Daylesford location in 2018, Kazuki’s brought its Japanese fine dining to Carlton. And this spot has been kicking goals ever since it decided to make Melbourne home.

    The beautiful spare design of the space emits a calm, serene feeling for diners — but the food will definitely excite you. The menu continues the fusion of Japanese and European flavours that Kazuki’s is known for, paying tribute to the chef’s heritage as well as his French training.

    Image: Peter Tarasiuk

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  • 17
    Sushi On — one of the best omakase experiences in Melbourne

    Chef Yong Hyun heads up the kitchen at Kew’s Sushi On, bringing his twenty years of experience in Tokyo and time at Komeyui and Kisumé to the rolling mat. His philosophy is all about the beauty of balance — with creativity, appearance, consistency, taste, innovation and heritage all given equal footing.

    Yong’s skills are applied to create a Melbourne Japanese restaurant that only offers omakase. His two versions consist of a 22-course omakase for dinner and a 16-course experience for lunch. The lineup changes every night, so it’s impossible to know what you’re in for, but think scampi with bento butter, sardines with pickled kombu, King George whiting nigiri and Tasmanian oysters.

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  • 16
    Nobu Melbourne - one of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne

    Nobu at Crown brings Nobu Matsuhisa’s esteemed fusion of traditional Japanese food with South American flavours to our city. Within the two-storey fine-dining labyrinth you can enjoy everything from lunchtime bento boxes and donburi to more elaborate omakase experiences and a la carte options.

    Either sit up on the ground floor overlooking the Yarra River or head down to the wood-clad basement dining room where you’ll also find the sushi bar full of master sushi makers crafting elaborate platters full of sashimi, nigiri and maki.

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  • 15
    Tsukiji Restaurant - home to the best sushi in Melbourne.

    Named for the famous Tsukiji seafood market in Japan, this restaurant is unlike your typical sushi and sashimi joint. Instead of ordering off a menu or choosing from pre-made sushi, here you head to the showcase of seafood on display, select your fish, and watch the chefs carve it up for you fresh in the kitchen.

    You’ll find servings of tuna, salmon, octopus and scallops, among other cuts, which the chefs will prepare for you on a sashimi platter. The place itself is compact and almost always busy, which gives off the bustling feeling of the genuine Tsukiji market.

    Image: Tran Nguyen

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  • 14
    dining room Marble Yakiniku in Melbourne

    Designed to look like a traditional Japanese tea house, Marble Yakiniku is the best place to be in Melbourne if you’re after authentic Japanese cuisine heroing locally-sourced wagyu cuts.

    The tableside barbecuing — from which it’s taken its name ‘Yakiniku’ — is undoubtedly the highlight of the experience. But the crew also offers up hot pot experiences, omakase and a series of other regional Japanese dishes from the a la carte menu. Come back to this Japanese restaurant in Melbourne over and over, having a totally different kind of dining experience each time.

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  • 13
    Akaiito - home to some of Melbourne's best omakase. Also one fo the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne.

    Tucked away in Flinders Lane is one of the most striking dining rooms in all of Melbourne. Black granite, soft lighting, sleek leather furniture and a dazzling, illuminated red ribbon streaking across the room from the ceiling set the scene at Akaiito.

    Here you can dine on elaborate Japanese eats from the a la carte menu or opt for either the five- or seven-course omakase experience (with a vegetarian for those who are meat- and seafood-free). It’s also home to one of the best private dining rooms in Melbourne, equipped with projectors that shine down scenes of nature onto the table and surrounding walls. Bliss.

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  • 12
    Matsu - kaiseki and omakase restaurant in Footscray, Melbourne.

    Instead of your usual omakase, this tiny four-seater Footscray restaurant serves up a decadent kaiseki experience. If omakase is relaxed, kaiseki is more formal. If omakase is a free-flowing menu with whatever is fresh that day, kaiseki is a predetermined set menu focusing on traditional structures.

    It’s also less about sushi and more about other regional dishes resembling ornate works of edible art. If you manage to get a table when the monthly bookings are released, you’re in for one of the best Japanese dining experiences in Melbourne. 

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  • 11
    Kisume - one of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne.

    The simplest way to describe Kisumé may be this: three storeys of considered grandeur. The space is carved up into a series of venues, each with its own identity and offering.

    Start off at The Chablis Bar, sampling cocktails and light bites before sneaking off to the restaurant for traditional Japanese eats — our favourite seats are at the bar overlooking the kitchen. There are a few private dining rooms hidden upstairs, right by the special 10-seat Chef’s Table experience where you’ll try Kisumé’s brilliant omakase. Wherever and however you choose to dine at Kisumé, you’ll be trying some of the very best Japanese food in Melbourne.

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  • 10
    Yakikami - one of the best japanese restaurants in Melbourne.

    For the red meat-obsessed, add this Japanese fine-diner to your hit list. The hospitality crew behind it, Wagyu Ya Group, has the only Japanese restaurants in the state that are certified to use Kobe wagyu beef. As well as life-altering wagyu, Yakikami does excellent yakitori degustations and a wagyu- and seafood-filled omakase.

    We are particularly big fans of the yakitori, especially if you nab one of the seats at the counter. Here, you can watch the art of grilling over coals, as the bandana-clad chefs cook up a mighty selection of skewered goodies. Pair it all with sake, Japanese beers and cocktails to make a proper night of it.

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  • 9
    Chotto Motto - one of the best melbourne Japanese restaurants

    If you’ve ever ventured down Collingwood’s Wellington Street, you have probably been intrigued by a certain eye-catching corner building, decked out with a bold black and white façade. You’d be looking at Chotto Motto, one of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne.

    At this lively Japanese haunt, the humble gyoza reigns supreme, specifically crisp-based Hamamatsu-style dumplings that are served as a group and flipped upside down. You know the ones. Japanese-inspired cocktails, plum wine, sake and beer also feature on the stacked drinks list. A very good time with a simple concept done well.

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  • 8
    Two chefs preparing food at Aoi Tsuki, South Yarra. Home to some of the best omakase in Melbourne.

    Carving out its own unique offering in Melbourne’s omakase scene is Aoi Tsuki, a pint-sized, 12-seat Japanese restaurant nestled on a busy section of Punt Road — an unlikely location for one of Melbourne’s best Japanese restaurants.

    Traditional Japanese omakase, this is not. Instead, Head Chefs Tei Gim and Jun Pak twist flavours up with contemporary flair, seeking to serve up spectacular food without pretension. The result is an incredible regularly rotating 20-course omakase menu underpinned by a deep respect for seasonality. And while you’re spending big, be sure to get the sake pairings. These chefs are not just great cooks, they’re fantastic drinking buddies, too.

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  • 7
    The main bar at Yugen Dining in Melbourne

    In a two-level subterranean space beneath sibling Yugen Tea Bar, sits the luxurious Japanese restaurant Yugen Dining. It’s a multi-faceted drinking and dining destination with a dramatic aesthetic and an impressive commitment to detail.

    Downstairs is home to a lofty, open restaurant space and adjacent bar area with soaring ceilings and a majestic chandelier cascading from one corner. Meanwhile, the mezzanine above plays host to Yugen’s six-seat omakase bar and a series of private dining rooms — including the eight-person Golden Orb that’s suspended in mid-air. If you’re looking for total luxury, this Melbourne Japanese restaurant has it in spades.

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  • 6
    Shira Nui

    If you plan to visit Shira Nui, be sure to book ahead, because this place often has a waiting list a month in advance. Opened over twenty years ago by chef and owner Hiro Nishikura, Shira Nui is the type of restaurant where looks can be deceiving. The dining room’s design is fairly basic and the menu is laminated — but the food is nothing short of incredible.

    This place is serious about its Japanese food yet is still fun and charming, with the staff a pleasure to deal with and Chef Hiro, the life of the party. It’s famous for its grilled oysters, and the bento boxes are favourites among locals, but you really can’t go past the sushi and sashimi. It’s some of Melbourne’s very best.

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  • 5
    Supernormal - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne CBD — Japanese cuisine.

    A pop-up turned perennial favourite, Supernormal first opened the doors to its current Flinders Lane digs in early 2014 and has been earning fans ever since for its crafty fusion fare — including the famous signature lobster roll.

    Maintaining its spot as one of Melbourne’s best Japanese restaurants for a decade is no easy feat, but owner Andrew McConnell (CumulusCutler & CoBuilders Arms, Marion, Gimlet) knows exactly what he’s doing here, and he has the hit rate to prove it. The spot consistently serves up some of the best food in Melbourne’s CBD.

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  • 4
    Ichi Ni Nana - sushi melbourne - supplied - one of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne

    Fitzroy’s Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya manages to blend the contemporary and traditional with total ease. The sushi bar slings some of the best sushi in Melbourne every day, while the main kitchen delivers a series of classic Japanese eats and fusion creations.

    Grab a seat in the huge courtyard with a retractable glass roof or inside the wood-clad dining room that’s always heaving with fans. A little-known secret is that the restaurant also has access to Hotel Fitzroy’s rooftop, which is usually only open for private events. When Ichi Ni books out, it sometimes puts guests up on the roof so ask when making a booking. The space is a proper hidden gem in Melbourne.

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  • 3
    Kenzan Japanese restaurant in the CBD - home to some of the best sushi in Melbourne.

    Kenzan is a proper Melbourne dining institution. For over 35 years, it has led the Japanese restaurant scene in Melbourne, training up some of the best Japanese chefs in the country — who have gone on to work at spots like Usami and Minamishima.

    Traditional Japanese cooking skills are on full show here, used to create both simple and inventive dishes. It serves up a whole host of Japanese eats, but it is really well known for being one of the best sushi spots in Melbourne. Great attention is given to preparing the seafood and getting the rice just right — one of the most important components of sushi is the rice. The menu of sushi rolls, sashimi and nigiri is extensive, with a huge variety of platters up for grabs during lunch and dinner service. You’re truly spoilt for choice at Kenzan, one of the very best restaurants in Melbourne.

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  • 2
    a busy dining room with Japanese street signs at Robata - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne with one of the best set menus in Melbourne.

    The team behind South American restaurants San TelmoPastuso and Palermo has taken a jaunt to Japan for this Tokyo-accented eatery set within a playful space sporting futuristic elements and neon lights aplenty. It’s embracing the art of charcoal grilling, with Japanese techniques and traditions at the forefront and a custom-built robatayaki grill taking centre stage in the kitchen.

    Robata’s izakaya-style menu is headlined by yakitori and kushiyaki skewers cooked over charcoal. Deeper in, further Japanese flavours are reworked with fresh twists. The unique food offerings at this Japanese dining spot lend to its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Melbourne. Meanwhile, a list of top-notch drops traverse Japan’s craft breweries and whisky distilleries to the vineyards of Victoria.

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  • 1
    A chef walking past the main dining table at Minamishima - seafood sushi omakase restaurant in Richmond, Melbourne

    When Minamishima first opened in 2016, it didn’t take long for people to notice. After 15 years at the CBD’s Kenzan, sushi master Koichi Minamishima decided to go out on his own, and he almost immediately started making waves in the world of sushi.

    Let’s be clear — this is a night you’re investing in. The two dining options (they differ if you sit at the bar or in the dining room) cost $295 each, with the option of matching premium sake or wine for another cost. But it is sushi as you rarely experience it outside Japan. At Minamishima, standards are high and perfection is desired — it is Melbourne’s greatest showcase of Japanese cuisine and one of the very best restaurants in Melbourne.

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Top images: Kisume

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