That ancient dilemma of how to give the finesse and subtlety of Japanese cuisine an edgy, sexed up vibe has been forever solved by the crew at hôntô. With moody, minimalist interiors with long communal tables and a sleek whiskey bar to drink at while you wait for a seat, this dimly lit Valley spot is the place to tuck into Wagyu beef tartare with kimchi crisps and Moreton Bay bug katsu sandos with salted cabbage. This is Japanese—but not like you’ve ever seen it before.
When the hankerings hit, sometimes it takes more than a sushi train to quell the impending anarchy. Enter Izakana-ya Okuman and their transcendent sushi situation: platter on platters of hand-rolled ricey seaweed medallions, each one a bite-sized love letter to your insides.
The uninitiated would likely baulk at the prospect of a big old bowl of tofu for dinner. If this sounds like you, check your priorities because the first step in self-discovery is Mizu’s signature agedashi tofu. Pad out the rest of your feasting with some cheeky sushi and a couple of bottles of plum wine and paradise comes early.
Howard Smith Wharves
Make your way down to Howard Smith Wharves and pay Yoko Dining a visit for a taste of incredible refined and flavour-filled Japanese food. Yoko has it all, river views, a mouth-watering unique menu, and a list of drinks that will give you a taste of Japan—you’ll fall in love with their matcha melon cocktails. Feast on as much soba noodle salad, pork gyozas, miso-glazed eggplant, chicken karaage, and sashimi platters as your heart desires. You’ll also be obsessing over their dessert menu which features a decadent white sesame mochi ice cream and shaved milk.
Bird’s Nest Yakitori
West End, Fortitude Valley and Toowong
With a warm, wooden exterior, Izakaya Goku affords you all the comfort and privacy you need to make the most of a long-ass boozy lunch. Start out with some okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes), quickly foray into the chicken katsu and then step it up with some yuzu pepper steak guaranteed to blow your trumpet. Don’t forget their expansive range of sakes and, of course, Sapporo on tap.
Boom Boom Izakaya
Taking over from The Boom Boom Room, this underground hotspot is a must for all lovers of Japanese cuisine. Boom Boom Izakaya not only boasts a luxe, sultry interior but also a menu that you’ll be daydreaming about for days on end. Barramundi katsu boa burgers, wild scampi with scampi caviar gunkan, and fried silken tofu are among the list of delectable dishes they have to offer. The menu is designed to be ordered in bulk and shared with a group, so grab your friends and dine like royalty in this dreamy space.
It’s hailed as Brisbane’s trove of Japanese food, there is simply no end to the wonders and joys that await you within the pages of Moga's menu. Sashimi, katsu, yakitori, nigiri, tempura—you name it, they’ve got it in spades making it absolutely brilliant for long lunches and dinners with the squad.
Tucked away in the leafy streets of Teneriffe, Hikari is relatively new to the scene, but already winning over tastebuds everywhere with lunchtime dishes like donburi bowls and okonomi yakisoba—savoury pancakes filled with soba noodles and your choice of meat. It's their izakaya-style dinner menu you'll really want to head in for though, with a range of share plates perfect for knocking back with a Japanese beer.
Yuzu & Co
New Farm & Milton
Yuzu & Co is a local go-to for fresh, contemporary Japanese dining. Though replete with classic dishes like sushi rolls, gyoza and ramen, Yuzu & Co. also cranks up the creativity with stellar options like popcorn prawns and a neat selection of Japanese burgers—everyone knows to win the heart of Brisbanites is with a good burg.
If you’re looking for a hidden Japanese gem, Ku-O is an oriental umbrella adorned venue that serves up traditional dishes in Trafalga Lane. You’ll find everything from single servings of sashimi to flavourful hotpots. The locals keep this one a pretty tight secret, but the word's slowly getting out there.
Eat your way through a different international cuisine and check out Brisbane's best Italian restaurants here.