Whether hot or cold, clean or dirty, hearty or sweet, Japanese is unique in its ability to fit every occasion with the all-encompassing power to keep things fresh, vibrant, and interesting without straying from tradition. How does it do this? No one knows, but the word ‘sorcery’ has been passed around a bit.
In a city where food trends are always on the in and out, and grown adults get schooled by six-year-olds on the correct pronunciation of ‘phō’, we thought it was time to brush up on Brisbane’s best Japanese so here goes:
Wagaya | Fortitude Valley
Cheap, cheerful and interactive, Wagaya
is almost futuristic with the techno-efficiency of their ordering system that summons sushi, tempura, and noodles at the faintest touch of a screen. The discrete service and internal infrastructure of corridors and compartments is almost noir so I find it hard to believe there aren’t at least a dozen conspiracies hatched over some katsu on any given night.
Nikuya | Fortitude Valley
The first thing you need to know about Nikuya
is that it is a lot to take in. There’s a pretty flagrant barbecue situation, hectic bento boxes for lunchtime, a buffet option and a menu of bounty spread across this multilevelled testament to Brisbane’s ardent appreciation for Japanese cuisine.
Bird’s Nest Yakitori | West End
At first glance yakitori seems pretty straightforward, but few places that purport to offer yakitori actually lock it down. Purists require proper yakitori to be grilled on a charcoal fire (take a walk, George Foreman) and this is where Bird’s Nest
winkles out its point of difference in a minefield of posers. They proffer authentic yakitori, slamming fries (bonus) and all the sake that you can handle responsibly.
Hosokawa | Ascot
Good medicine is bitter to the mouth, but good sushi is better than finding fries at the bottom of the bag… I’m not sure where I was going with that but the fact still remains that the sushi at Hosokawa
is the raw fish equivalent of a vitamin B12 shot that will leave you feeling fresh AF.
Sono | Portside
Anyone telling you to find the happy is really just telling you to hit up Sono
. It could be the river views or the plates on plates on plates of godsend deliciousness I can’t stop chowing, but a session at Sono always leaves me tickled and gooey with that warm, fuzzy feeling you normally only get from watching videos of otters holding hands.
Mizu | West End
The uninitiated would likely balk 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.
Saké | CBD
Our Japanese correspondent on the corporate strip, Saké’s flair derives from meshing food and art together in eccentric and mind-boggling plates that are almost too good to eat. I mean, we manage to scoff them anyway but not before spending a good four or five awestruck minutes baffling at a pile of food that looks better than we do. Eyes full, our stomachs reap the rewards of the most exquisite Japanese cuisine to hit the riverbank.
Izakaya Kotobuki | CBD
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 Izakaya Kotobuki’s
almanac of sushi. Flavour, colour, texture, type — you name it, they’ve got it in spades making it absolutely brilliant for long lunches and dinners with the squad, ordering an entire corporate platter and eating it on your own.
Fresh Fish Co. | Fortitude Valley
See the freshest fillets on James Street put into perfect practice at our favourite fishmonger-cum-sushi joint, the Fresh Fish Co
. It’s a neat little operation that makes their sushi fresh every day from the fish in their own window — ideal for a quick takeaway lunch or casual dinner. That rule against getting high off your own supply obviously doesn’t apply.
Bishamon | Spring Hill
From teppanyaki, teriyaki, and tempura to katsu, hot pot and sukiyaki, Bishamon Japanese
is so suited to your fancies it’s like the Allen key of Brisbane Japanese. The eggplant slathered in sweet miso is an elegant declaration of how best to eat your vegetables, and the gluten free menu means you can bring your GF posse without fear of any sneaky contaminated soy ruining the damn mood.
Taro’s Ramen | CBD
Easily Brisbane’s most well-known ramen restaurant, Taro’s
has set the sub-tropical standard stupidly high for this famous Japanese noodle soup. In every fragrant whiff is the hard work and almost fanatical devotion of the man himself, Taro, and his legacy. Using only sweet pork from Bangalow and organic free range eggs from the Darling Downs, Taro’s refuses to compromise in his pursuit of crafting the perfect bowl of ramen.
Ramen Champion | Sunnybank
Besides making some of the best ramen in town, Ramen Champion
also throws down the gauntlet for a food challenge almost too tantalising to ignore. If you can chow a monster bowl of ramen in under 30 minutes you earn yourself free ramen for a year and the titular honour of being crowned Ramen Champion.
Harajuku Gyoza | Fortitude Valley
Two words for anyone visiting Harajuku Gyoza
: raindrop cake. Just try it, you’ll love it. It will change your life and maybe your relationship status. And while I know the idea of a cake that is described as a ‘flavourless jelly’ doesn’t exactly scream delish, Harajuku says it’s all down to the accompaniments. Choose from sakura (cherry blossom) or matcha for a super-refreshing palate cleanser to round off what was probably a dumpling binge.
Love Brisbane's best Japanese restaurants as much as us? Then you need to check out Brisbane's Ultimate Asian Food Trail!