With a healthy appetite for all things Nippon nosh-related, Brisbane reveals an arsenal of options for everything edamame and beyond - from haute tempura to home-style hand rolls. Read on for our top five Japanese establishments up north.
1. Saké, sakerestaurant.com.au
Brisbane's version of Saké is the sunny sister to this ever-expanding Japanese eatery empire. Situated riverside in chic foodie mecca Eagle Street Pier, this award-winner is heavy on culinary credibility and flavour. Head chef Daisuke Sakai brings 13 years of sashimi prepping and tempura battering to the table, slicing a precision line between old-school heritage Asian technique and new order modern chow. The menu is sushi and sashimi respectful, rolling out fresh seafood tastes on beds of expertly spiced vinegar rice. The spider maki (soft-shell crab sushi roll) is a must-eat, along with anything tempura or robata grilled. For the faithful, banquet order up the chef selections or Saké signatures. After all, Chef knows best.
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2. Sono, sonorestaurant.com.au
Where Saké caters to the slick Southside set, Sono's Portside Wharf location translates to chic clientele from the superyacht and cruising collective. Covering a dojo of seat and menu stylings, spicy tuna diehards can select a pew at the teppanyaki bar, sushi bar, shoes-off traditional floor dining section, or keep it confidential in a private room.
Onto the menu: this Japanese cuisine temple deftly dishes up on-form Eastern epicurean eats. One taste of Sono's skilled take on sushi and food court hand rolls will be permanently off your menu. The teppanyaki list is similarly stacked with palette pleasers, like Queensland king prawns, Hokkaido scallops and WA lobster. Sono also shows strong drinking game with an 1800-bottle cellar.
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3. Moga, moga.com.au
The search for Bris-based authentic Izakaya (Japanese tapas) ends here. Situated where the cool kids convene in cosmopolitan Paddington, Moga takes advantage of the warm climes, presenting a cute parasol-covered eatery for the sun and sushi worshipper. Nigiri, maki, and hand rolls sit deliciously alongside low-fi flame-grilled yaki yums and surprising taste-filled throw-backs like camembert katsu (fried Japanese crumbed camembert cheese), tempura ice cream (vanilla ice cream deep fried in Japanese batter) and sake mango pudding. The tightly edited menu is designed to share, but if you want to avoid last-bite biffs, best to order two of everything.
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4. Mizu, mizurestaurant.com.au
Mizu does solid contemporary eastern fare for lunch and dinner, plus an unexpected weekend breakfast offering. The Saturday brunch and latte crew come early to chow down on Japanese seafood pancakes, crab meat omelettes with rice, breakfast bento boxes filled with taste-tester delights of fish, chicken, boiled eggs, potato salad, pickles, rice and miso soup. Lattes are also on the radar with a matcha green tea version, and for the sweet-toothed breakfaster a scoop of green tea ice cream. Now alse in Brisbane's West End, Mizu has brilliantly bookended the Japanese Bris-based breakfast market.
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5. Bird's Nest, birdsnestrestaurant.com.au
This West End Japanese yakitori eatery has the royal seal freshly stamped on its door. UK celebrity gastronomer Tom Parker Bowles' (son of Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles) recent judging spin on Channel 9's restaurant reality show The Hotplate bestowed the winning gong on the dynamic duo behind this eatery, Marie Yokoyama and Emi Kamada. The newly minted winners take their meat skewers seriously - before opening Bird's Nest in 2013, Marie and Emi travelled to Japan to learn the ancient flame-grilled art from Yakitori masters. The menu keeps it traditional with multiple yakatori chicken and vegie skewed mainstays, but gives a nod to mod via organic produce and largely gluten-free fare.