Not all Japanese restaurants in Sydney have to be fancy. Sometimes all we need is a don, ramen or plate of gyoza to satisfy the soul. We’ve found some cheap and cheerful Japanese restaurants that will keep your belly and your wallet happy.
Super delicious sashimi and wagyu beef tataki reign supreme at Rosan Japanese Cuisine. Priding themselves on authentic Japanese cuisine without the bells and whistles that come with the fancier Japanese eateries, these guys create legit and oh so tasty Japanese food in Sydney. The menu doesn’t waste any time with the finer details, but tells you everything you need to know—our picks are the Rosan duck pancakes, dobin mushi (a seafood broth that comes out in a tea pot) and nasu dengaku (miso-glazed eggplant).
Located on Oxford Street in the heart of Darlinghurst, Don Don is the kind of nondescript Japanese restaurant to visit regularly for a no-frills Japanese food fix. Pop in for a sushi don or udon noodle soup or order the hand rolls, which come highly recommended as a cheap option (you know, before pay day hits). Often packed throughout the week, Don Don has mastered the formula for simple food, cheap prices and quick service. Oh, and it’s BYO too. Win.
Hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant, Origami has recently moved in on Surry Hills and the locals couldn’t be happier come lunchtime. By ‘locals’ we obviously mean us because $12 will get us a huge box of goodies to feast on and boy have we been feasting. The bento-style box has a selection of salmon sashimi, steamed gyoza, teriyaki chicken on rice and a little side salad. Come by during the evening and you may just see sweet little owner dressed in a kimono.
The menu at Sushi Uo is a thorough collection of all of your favourite Japanese eats #justsayin’. Ranging from entrees of edamame served simply with sea salt and heavenly pan-fried gyoza, all the way up to a main of sashimi (16 assorted pieces) and honey-chilli pork, Sushi Uo is a no-frills go-to for all budgets. For the best value, we recommend you order one of the bento boxes, which have samples of sushi, sashimi and tempura—as all good bento boxes should.
A must visit for all Chippendale and Darlington dwelling students, Jap’s Table is potentially your new go-to for a quick and healthy Japanese feast. The menu is affordable and features all of the classic Japanese comforts including a whole host of yakitori options (it’s their specialty). Other standouts are the salmon dons, bowls of ramen and mackerel sushi.
Udon and soba noodles are the name of the game at Mappen Noodle Bar near World Square. You can design your own lunch, with their selection of toppings, such as shredded vegetables and shrimp tempura. So if slurping on big juicy bowls of noodle soup is your jam, then head to this retro-style noodle bar for a mid week pick-me-up. For the non-slurpers (is that even a thing?), they also have skewers, sashimi and your typical meat and rice dishes.
Hidden in the back streets of Darlinghurst, Nom is a boutique izakaya bar serving home-style Japanese eats, focussed on fresh and simple dishes for under $20. The décor is authentic with vintage Japanese posters lining the walls and making you feel like you have stepped off the Sydney streets, straight into a Tokyo bar. The menu, as expected, features a selection of Japanese bar snacks including yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls) and Japanese style mashed potato (don’t knock it till you try it), and since nothing is over $20, Nom is perfect for a no-fuss dinner in Darlinghurst. The extensive selection of sake and Japanese beers don’t hurt either—especially when they are served in the cutest cups ever.
Looking for more Japanese in Sydney? Here's where to find it.
Image credit: Alita Ong