The round-up: Brisbane’s best Japanese restaurants
Apologies to any culinary aesthetes reading this, but we feel like a bit of clarification in order – there is so much more to Japanese cuisine than sushi and ramen noodles. The depth of Japanese cuisine is incredibly large, and sometimes it is hard to get a grasp on the diversity without jumping on a plane bound to Tokyo and beyond. It’s not a completely lost cause for Japanese cuisine in Brisbane, however. There are numerous eateries delivering delicious Japanese fare comparable to the real deal. We’ve assembled a list of some of the best.
Bird’s Nest Yakitori & Bar, West End and Fortitude Valley: For the unfamiliar, yakitori is a Japanese style of grilled chicken skewers. A staple of Japanese izakaya menus and street-food hubs, yakitori skewers are typically cooked over a charcoal fire, a technique also employed at Bird’s Nest Yakitori. Both locations cook its succulent morsels over special Binchoutan (or white charcoal) grills, serving up the likes of traditional chicken meatballs, Willi Willi Creek pork belly, chicken hearts, vegetables and more.
Saké Restaurant & Bar, Brisbane City: Contemporary Japanese cuisine is the star of this Eagle Street restaurant’s offering, which foregrounds unique flavour combinations with Australian produce and visually stunning presentation. Saké Restaurant’s a la carte menu encompasses hot and cold dishes such as hiramasa kingfish and nasu dengaku eggplant, as well as sumptuous kushiyaki, makimono sushi rolls and impressive lunch bentos.
Oishii Sushi Bar, Sunnybank: Sunnybank’s go-to for phenomenal Japanese eats boasts an extensive menu, so it’s best to start small and work your way up. Garlic butter scallops, pickled seaweed salads and tori karaage are great starting points, and from there we suggest working your way through the likes of spicy scallop sashimi, cone-shaped temaki sushi, Japanese-style fried rice wrapped in omelette and tempura udon.
Bishamon Japanese Restaurant, Spring Hill: Spring Hill’s Bishamon is a family-owned restaurant that serves up some seriously stellar dishes designed to be shared with friends. Wagyu beef tataki, pan-fried pork dumplings, okonomi rolls, tempura fish cakes, grilled salmon fillets with soy and butter sauce, and thick udon noodle soups will be enough to fill, but the rest of the menu will have you coming back again and again.
Hosokawa, Hamilton: The local favourite is a bona fide star of the Japanese cuisine scene in Brisbane, with a menu that casts an eye across several of Japan’s culinary essentials. We hear the miso eggplant, the tuna karaage and the sushi is phenomenal, but with substantial a la carte offering to pick from we encourage you to experiment.
Hai-Hai Ramen, Paddington: We’re big fans of ramen at The Weekend Edition, and Hai-Hai is always near the top of our list when we’re in the mood for noods. But there’s more to Hai-Hai’s menu than just the soups. Chashu pork, karaage chicken and tofu katsu baos are also on offer, as well as sweetcorn with a lathering of miso butter and furikake seasoning.
Sono Japanese Restaurant, Hamilton: Japanese fine dining doesn’t get much more fine than Sono. This award-winning concept delivers a multi-faceted dining experience, from casual lunch options, refined dinner settings and a scintillating teppanyaki offering. From sushi and sashimi platters, gyu tataki, skewered wagyu tenderloin, black cod saiko taki and seafood ishiyaki, Sono has incorporated the width and breadth of Japanese cuisine under one roof.
Taro’s Ramen, various locations: Ramen bars are a staple of quick and casual Japanese dining, and Taro’s Ramen is one of the best proponents of nourishing noodle-laden broth in Brisbane. Across his four locations, Taro has painstakingly perfected his core range of ramen, including classic tonkotsu, shoyu, shio and tsukemen. Beyond the ramen, Taro also dishes out the likes of chicken karaage, spicy cold tofu, homemade gyoza, curries, chicken schnitzel sandwiches and more.
Yuzu & Co, New Farm: Brunswick Street’s Yuzu & Co delivers delicious contemporary Japanese to New Farm, with enough unique twists to make it truly memorable. Some of the out-of-the-box menu items include brie cheese tempura, squid tempura burgers, wagyu gyoza, soft tofu poke bowls, crispy skin duck teriyaki, and gobo root chips.
Mizu, Teneriffe: Fresh local produce is transformed into delightful contemporary Japanese bites at Teneriffe’s Mizu, exemplified across its bountiful lunch and dinner menus. We love the sound of Mizu’s bento and teishoku sets, but if we have the urge to splurge then you can see us tucking in to the likes of deep-fried panko-crumbed pork fillet, crab and soba salad, yellowfin tuna steaks and unagi rolls.
Izakaya Kotobuki, Brisbane City: Sushi lovers rave about Kotobuki’s East Brisbane sushi stop, but the inner-city restaurant concept is also a treat. Dishes like vegetable croquettes, sizzling wagyu beef, jalapeno seafood tempura, yakitori, teriyaki noodles and fusion sushi give you a taste of what is possible, but don’t be afraid to dig deeper – there’s a lot more to taste.
Moga, Rosalie: Taking inspiration from Japanese izakaya-style dining, Rosalie’s Moga specialises in small dishes that are to be enjoyed with a frosty beer, sake, wine or cocktail. The best way to eat is to order a variety of dishes, with robata grill morsels such as plum yakitori chicken, pork spare ribs and tomato and bacon kushi sharing menu space with sashimi, nigiri, tempura dishes, flame-grilled bites and more.
Izakana-Ya Okuman, South Brisbane: If there is anything that pairs with soft-shell baos, wasabi octopus and anf agedashi tofu better than an ice-cold beer or glass of sake, we’d like to hear it. Izakana-ya Okuman delivers the goods across both food and drink, with more than a dozen varieties of sake, a clutch of Japanese beers and some choice Japanese whiskies sublimely suiting the small-plate style fare.
Have a suggestion that you think we’ve missed? Let us know about your favourite Japanese restaurant at [email protected].
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