Are you sick of seeing all your friends heading to Japan for cherry blossom season? Same.
Instead of constantly wishing you were there, why don’t you get a little taste of Japan yourself, without having to fly all the way over there? If you can’t beat them, join them!
Here are seven Japanese restaurants in Melbourne you can head to ASAP.
Ichi, ni, san, shi, GO!
190 Smith St, Collingwood
Known for its lively and friendly vibes, Pabu provides an exciting and modern twist on traditional Japanese pubs. The word ‘Pabu’ is the Japanese word for ‘pub’, and aims to transport you to the side streets of Japan and experience the informal style of Japanese “izakaya” dining.
Known for its smokey, open barbeque and delectable tapas, Pabu is the go-to place for you to relax and unwind with a cold beer in hand. Their menu offers a wide variety of delicious food items, including Lotus Root Chips with Wasabi Mayo, Grilled Eel Meringue and Wagyu Poterhouse with Wasabi Butter. If you’re not sure what to order, don’t fret and opt for the “Signature Taste of Pabu” – an 8 course meal carefully selected by the Chef costing you only $75. Think oyster shots, King Fish Sashimi and Green Tea Crème Brulee.
If you’re after a space for your next event or celebration, Pabu is also available for private functions.
113 Chapel St, Windsor
Tacos, pizza, sliders and nachos are not what you’d expect from a Japanese restaurant, but surprise, surprise… you’ll find them at this Chapel Street hot-spot. Known for its new-age Japanese fusion and Hawaiin-Peruvian influence, Sash has turned heads due to its unique flavour combinations and menu items. Its ambiance oozes excitement and you’ll love dining by its cool blue lighting and neon lights.
Their star menu item is the Ahi Tropical Tuna Pizza – made up of sesame crusted tuna tataki, mango, strawberries, avocado, ginger, wasabi mayo on a black squid ink traditional base. If you’re feeling a little more traditional, opt for their incredible sushi rolls, with options such as torched King Fish or Wasabi Tuna. Drinks are also aplenty… our pick is their Yuzu Cheesecake Cocktail, which combines Yuzu, sake, lemon, green tea and egg white.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, on Tuesdays you can snatch up their 2 for 1 deal on selected tacos, sliders, bao and margaritas to keep you going for the rest of your week.
Ichi Ni Nana
127 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Experience the mysteries of Japanese dining at Ichi Ni Nana right in the bustle of Brunswick Street. As soon as you walk in, you’re instantly met with dimly lit hanging lights featuring Japanese characters and an array of green leather booths, leading you to a spacious, open outdoor area featuring a plant wall and a retractable glass ceiling for Melbourne’s unpredictable rain, hail or shine!
Menu favourites include their stunning Sashimi Platter, Pan-seared Fish with Sweet Citrus Yuzu Chilli Sauce and Matcha Cheesecake with Azuki Ice Cream. Be blown away by the artistry of each dish, as every plate is carefully prepared and beautifully presented for you. While you’re there, choose from their amazing list of Japanese inspired cocktails, spirits, beers and ciders. Our pick is the “Oriental Sour” which fuses vodka, St Germain elderflower liqueur, yuzu juice, lychee juice, simple syrup and egg white.
9 Clifton St, Prahran
If you’re after good value without compromising on taste, Grand Lafayette is for you. An Asian inspired, insta-worthy brunch haven during the day, and an all-you-can-eat Japanese eatery by night – this 100 seater is the perfect place for you and your friends to indulge on incredible food and feast to your heart’s content. Its big hanging lights, colourful walls and open space mirrors the cheeky and playful personality of its food and will leave you wanting to come back for more.
From 5:30pm onwards on Tuesdays to Sundays, Grand Lafayette serves up bottomless plates of mouthwatering Japanese food for only $32.80 per person! Gorge on Baked Scallops, Chicken Katsu, Angus Steak, Gua Baos and so much more. We recommend trying “Freakshii”, which is their signature freaky sushi roll!
142 Greville St, Prahran
Conveniently located in Prahran, Tokosan is the perfect place for relaxed drinks with your friends, a family meal or belting out some songs in its karaoke room. Find yourself experiencing the electric buzz of Tokyo, as you walk past neon signs, a 16 meter long graffiti mural and mutlicoloured umbrellas covering the ceiling.
Offering classic Japanese dishes such as Tempura Prawn Temaki Rolls and Salmon and Tuna Sashimi, this place is sure to please and satisfy those cravings. Feast to your heart’s content with its $29 all-you-can-eat banquet on Tuesdays, or gorge on $1 dumplings on Wednesdays. And if you’re really feeling a good time, sing your heart out in their private karaoke room, complete with disco lights, a large screen, pumping speakers, and big enough to fit 30 people in!
With plenty of space to celebrate, Tokosan is also available for private functions.
33 S Wharf Promenade, South Wharf
Sushi and sake… need we say more?! Enjoy a meal at this waterside terrace with stunning Yarra River views. Their Japanese menus are created with the intention that it will be followed through the traditional style of izakaya dining, where small dishes are most enjoyed when shared with family and friends.
Indulge in their incredible spread of Japanese food items showcasing Australia’s fresh local produce. Featuring a sushi and sashimi bar including Hiramasa King Fish, Hotate Scallop and Shake Salmon and an impressive drinks list, it’s no wonder Melburnians keep coming back for more.
If you’re after a bargain, stroll in any time between 12-3pm on a weekday to enjoy their $20 lunch set, which includes sashimi, salad, your choice of main and rice!
Private function and dining options are also available.
3 Church St, Hawthorn
Nestled in the heart of Hawthorn, Ocha serves modern, premium Japanese food made of the best locally and internally sourced produce. Bright walls, high ceilings and a clean neutral palette emanates Ocha’s fresh and delicate food, which highlights traditional Japanese cooking techniques.
With its food intended to be shared, you can expect your Ocha experience to be tantalizing and full of a variety of different tastes and textures. There are plenty of classic and modern dishes to choose from such as Softshell Crab Rolls, Salmon Tartare and Hokkaido Scallops. And if you’re feeling spontaneous, the staff can help you create a personalised menu for you to enjoy and suit your tastes, occasion and budget.
Ocha is also available for private functions with fantastic Japanese banquets to make any event special – find out more here.
By Grace Soetopo