Food & Drink

8 Japanese Dishes You Need To Try

By Erin Curtain
6th Sep 2022

8 Must-Try Japanese Dishes You Need To Taste

We recently teamed up with Kirin Ichiban to get to the bottom of a very important mystery. We wanted to know where to find the tastiest, most impressive, taste-bud exploding, soul-gratifying Japanese eats across Sydney and Melbourne. To aid our discovery, we sought help from a community with proven impeccable taste—you. And you did not disappoint. 

Dubbed the Kirin Ichiban 50, an expert judging panel has poured through your votes to unearth the best of both traditional modern craftsmanship and creative new flavours in Japanese Cuisine.

Before we unveil the complete list, we thought we’d tempt you with a taster. Here is a curated selection of the must-try Japanese dishes and venues across Sydney and Melbourne, as chosen by you.

Sydney

Enjoy a Deep-Fried Fine-Dining Experience At Haco

Ever thought the average omakase seriously lacks tempura action? Haco has you covered. This tiny restaurant only seats 12 at a time, perfectly suited for the intimate and exclusive omakase-style setting. Each night, Chef Kensuke Yada creates 20 mouthfuls of pure deep-fried deliciousness, serving up everything from tempura prawns to lotus root, pork belly, kombu-cured lobster, and more. Pair it with a Kirin Ichiban and follow with his legendary fried desserts for the ultimate flavour experience. If you want in on this symphony of deep-fried crunchiness, book early—those 12 seats are often booked out months in advance.

Take Your Takeaway To The Next Level With Harada’s Ballin’ Bento Boxes

Another omakase-style kitchen that made the cut is Harada. As you step up to the bar you’ll be met with a moody yet welcoming vibe. The soft lighting bounces off their extensive collection of Japanese whiskey, wine and sake as jazz and blues tunes play gently in the background. Leave it up to the owner and chef Yoshi to serve you his choice of authentic seasonal cuisine as part of their feature omakase-style dinner. If you can’t make it in, don’t panic. Harada offers a drool-worthy takeaway bento featuring wagyu, roast duck gyoza, snow crab and caviar rice, plus a few surprises picked by Yoshi on the day.

Share An Epic Yakitori Smorgasbord With Pals At Yebisu Bar & Grill

Let’s take a step back from the strict Japanese fine-dining scene and head to Yebisu Bar & Grill. These local legends are known as THE spot for some cheeky izakaya in Sydney’s Chinatown, serving up tapas-style dishes alongside a healthy selection of sake and Japanese beer—we order up a Kirin Ichiban, naturally. Here, everything is made to be shared with smaller plates that allow you to sample a broad range of flavours from their lengthy menu. As part of your traditional Japanese smorgasbord, be sure to order a couple of the Lobster Yakitori. Served up with special mayo and cream sauce poured over the perfectly grilled seafood, you won’t want to share this one.

Slurp Some Rave-Worthy Ramen At Rising Sun

Need to mod your bike? Get to work at Rising Sun Workshop and top off your sesh with some top-notch ramen. Part community motorcycle workshop, part friendly neighbourhood restaurant, Rising Sun is all about celebrating local and we’re loving it. Stop in for dinner to try their killer banquet menu, but if you ask us, their lunchtime ramen is where it’s at. Order up a serve of light, dark, or monk ramen any day of the week until 3pm and pimp it out with your choice of toppers and sides, from pork belly and black fungus to tsukemono pickles and gyoza.

Melbourne

Dine On Melt-In-Your-Mouth Sushi & Sashimi At Nobu

Ready for a world-class dining institution to sweep your tastebuds off their feet? Reserve a table at Nobu. Located at Crown, this is where it’s at if you want to experience impeccable Japanese fine dining. With 50+ restaurants worldwide, they have perfected the dining experience in every possible way. From their unbelievable sushi and sashimi to the well-stocked bar full of authentic Japanese drops, book in for nothing short of luxury.

Keep Your Japanese Fine Dining Authentic At Komeyui

If Komeyui is known for one thing, it’s their attention to detail. All about bringing people together through traditional Japanese food, the chef and owner Mr Motomu Kumando—Kuma for short—has brought his finely honed craft all the way from one of the best culinary schools in Japan and set up shop in South Melbourne. The restaurant’s minimalist style reflects the food well; everything is carefully chosen, impeccably made, and downright beautiful. Put your dinner in Kuma’s trustworthy hands for course after course of delectable and authentic bites.

Bring On The Broth At Musashi Ramen Bar

Less into fine-dining and more into copious amounts of ramen? Hit up Musashi Ramen Bar. Right in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown, there is no better place to order up a big old bowl of rich ramen topped with torched wagyu, braised pork belly, or whatever ramen classic your heart desires. The restaurant itself is a simple walk-in off the street, often with a line out the front filled with Melbourne ramen fiends. Inside you can nestle in amongst the Japanese ramen bar vibes with string lights and lanterns overhead as the team pass by you with steaming plates of Japanese tapas, bento boxes, and their legendary brothy noodles you won’t be able to resist.

Indulge In The Most Beautiful Bento You’ve Ever Seen At Machi

To top off your Melbourne Japanese flavour journey, order a Kirin Ichiban and settle in at Machi Japanese Restaurant and Bar. Their minimalist kitchen is separated into cold and hot areas, serving up all your authentic faves plus a few inspired creations here and there. If you’re dining in, skip straight to their signature dishes. Whether it’s the lobster meat taco or their spanner crab tartar, there is no better way to experience their unique and downright delicious take on Japanese flavours. When it comes to takeaway, you can’t beat their bento. Trust us, these beautiful boxes packed with rows upon layers of colourful sashimi, sushi, chirashi and more are as good to look at as they are to eat.

Hungry for more? Check out the full Kirin Ichiban 50 to scope out the rest of the best modern Japanese bites across Sydney and Melbourne. 

Editor’s note: this article was produced in partnership with Kirin Ichiban. Thank you for supporting the partners who make Urban List possible. To read our editorial policy, click here.

Image credit: Rising Sun Workshop via Instagram

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