Quality (authentic) Japanese food in Sydney

July 27, 2007 – 4:06 pm

I’ve been lucky enough to be introduced to seriously good eating places in Japan; Kaiseki, Sushi, Yakitori, Tonkatsu, Tempura, Izakayas etc. Restaurants in Japan tend to specialize in just one kind of food and concentrate on doing that as well as they can.

Back in Sydney, its a bit of a let down. Places I used to love now disappoint me. All is not lost. There are places to get quality Japanese food here that will give the good places in Japan a run for their money.

I think people will fall into two camps, the western palate and the asian/japanese palate. SMH’s Good Food Guide and other trendy mags rave about places like Yoshii, Toko and Wasavie. Their menus are styled to suit the customers, us westerners.

I fall into the other category. I’m not sure why. I just like the lighter, subtler style that you get in Japan. For me, there are only two places to go, Kabuki Shoroku and Toriciya. Shoroku is a traditional japanese resturant that you find all over japan. traditional dishes done in the traditional way. Its sublime, if what you care most about is the food. The service is simple but friendly and decor, average.


Toriciya is my favorite. It’s an izakaya just like the ones in Japan. Sake and yakitori are what they’re famous for. The range of sake is mind-boggling, over 2 pages on the menu. Japanese customers who think they know sake are regularly humbled. In quality, the bottom of the range starts just above the best any other place in Sydney has to offer. Pretty much all of the sake comes from small breweries that still make sake using the old techniques. Also, they hand make all their food from scratch, including the soup stock. Another highlight is the eccentric owner, Takahashi-san. He’s absolutely mad keen on sake. If you’re not into sake, he’d rather you not come. A recent renovation reduced the number of seats and aimed to make the restaurant look less inviting from the outside. On the other hand if you’re keen on being educated on sake, he’ll brighten up and chat your ear off, forgetting that there’s orders piling up in the kitchen.

Note: Tetsuya is Japanese, but his restaurant isn’t. He’s broken out of the restrictions of any one country’s food. He invents his own. Going there for the first time in September this year. Cant wait.

Yebisu - The Hop

UPDATE: I forgot about Uchi Lounge in Darlinghurst/Surry Hills. To sum it up simply, its like “modern Japanese FOR Japanese”. Every dish we tried we loved. I particularly like the Houjicha Panna Cotta. There’s talent and passion going into the food here. I’m surprised its not better known.

UPDATE 2: Went to Toriciya again tonight. There’s a new beer, Yebisu – “The Hop” which has replaced the old standard Yebisu

UPDATE Mar 2009: There’s another restaurant to add to the list, Ju-Rin.

  1. 8 Responses to “Quality (authentic) Japanese food in Sydney”

  2. I’ve had several mates go to Tetsuya’s and tell me I just _had_ to go. I always thought it was a tad pretentious. Let me know what you think.

    By Ian on Jul 30, 2007

  3. You will absolutely love Tetsuya’s – it’s a real experience and totally worth the wait. It’s no wonder he is one of the top 5 chefs in the world.

    By PJ on Jul 30, 2007

  4. where to buy good japanese sake in sydney ??

    By Robert on Oct 13, 2007

  5. This is a very good question, with no answer I’m afraid. Bottle shops only sell crappy Gekkeikan and Goshu, usually near the Tequila and other such foreign liquor. People in Australia don’t know enough about sake. One day hopefully someone will take the initiative and start importing and promoting good sake. Until then you’ll have to go and drink at Toriciya.

    By admin on Oct 13, 2007

  6. Sadly, “the hop” seems to have run out. They’ve gone back to standard Yebisu. awwwwwwww. But I like normal Yebisu too, so its not so bad.

    By Daniel on Oct 16, 2007

  7. “the hop” is back! mmmm beer

    By Daniel on Jan 20, 2008

  8. Mmmmm beer

    By Warren Hillsdon on Jan 21, 2008

  9. Thanks! I am looking forward to going here. I am desperate to find good shochu, and have just moved back to Australia from Osaka. This looks like the place for me!

    By Lucas on Mar 9, 2009

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