Best Sushi in Melbourne
The best sushi in Melbourne is found in chic Japanese restaurants, about Melbourne. The World Loves Melbourne enjoys vinegary rice topped with varieties of fresh fish.
1. Kappo - Flinders Lane
Kappo the brainchild of Simon Denton (also Hihou and Izakaya Den) with partners Miyuki Nakahara and Takashi Omi, is an intimate modern Japanese dining experience in the Melbourne CBD. Press the door bell in Flinders Lane (not Spring St) and enter a modern restaurant to be greeted with a smile and a warm towel. Sit around the counter, where you can see the chef in action and allow yourself to be taken on a superb culinary journey.
Simon Denton was a wonderful host and we felt like we were given a masterclass in the Japanese dining experience. The winter menu showcases the best of Australian produce and its seasonality, given innovative and exciting Japanese technique. As Simon Denton visits Japan about twice a year, he keeps abreast of nuances and trends in Japanese dining and brings innovative ideas back to Melbourne. We felt Kappo is a standout dining experience in Melbourne in a sea of fine dining choice.
Kappo brings out the sushi master, with Kentaro preparing a series of Black rice sushi of the highest quality. The Chu-toro, black garlic was one of the highlights for The World Loves Melbourne. The toro (upper belly) was a talking point at the table. Silky and flavour hit of the sea. The King George Whiting was a delicate treatment of an Australian seafood icon. Who would have thought such a delicate dish and harmony could be produced from this fish?
Another highlight in the black rice sushi series was the Cured Salmon and Yarra Valley salmon roe. Presentation was first class and the roe had a touch of wasabi to balance the dish. A simple dish yet such delightful flavours honouring the natural ingredient.
Siimon Denton has an affinity with the Yarra Valley, with his winery interest, for which we partook of a Nebbiolo with superb depth and bouquet.
2. Yu Yu - CBD
Classy Japanese in uber setting, Yu-u is a stylish restaurant in iconic Flinders Lane and thoroughly deserves its acclaim as a consistently fine sushi destination. This restaurant is just so good at every level, yet hidden away in a basement off Flinders Lane. There is a big difference between average Japanese food and ‘all class’. Yu-u is full of imagination and creativity and skilful cooking and exudes class.
First of all you have to find it! There is not much signage apart from a small sign inside the non descript entrance leading down the stairs off the laneway. Once inside you are greeted with a warm atmosphere with mood lighting – from candles, studio down lights and lamps.
We love the use of timber as you step down to the next level. A waitress shows you to your seat. Most customers sit around the huge bar area (another impressive use of wood). But seating is not on stools as is usually the case – but on impressive large chairs (so you can even recline if you consume too much). The large chair made us feel like we'd been upgraded to first class!
3. Mr Miyagi - Windsor
Mr Miyagi is a playful and eclectic Japanese restaurant in Windsor that delivers on food savvy and brings loads of technique to the table. Mr Miyagi is appealing for all but is 18-35 yr old heaven, with choice music, funky cuisine with a twist and chic wait staff traversing the floor attending a patronage of young and trendy. Mr Miyagi hums and sings. It needs to be understood for what it is - that is turning formal Japanese dining on its head and serving Japanese cuisine with a twist. The World Loves Melbourne was invited as guests of Mr Miyagi to sample its dinner menu with some new options. We enjoyed the new shared dishes presented artistically and full of flavour, technique and concern for texture and balance. After establishing itself Mr Miyagi still has its mojo, and is in fact ever evolving.
The vibe here is perfect for that catch up or romantic soiree. Pop art, even a splash of neon, exposed brick walls, chic ceiling, sexy booths, polished cement floor, and long bar and naked bulbs, make Mr Miyagi fashionable. Even on a Wednesday night Mr Miyagi swings. Of course we remember Mr Miyagi from the Karate Kid movies, bringing his sage like wisdom to the younger generation.
Mr Miyagi brings the colour and vibrancy to your evening, with a touch of theatre.
The Sashimi and sushi combo will blow your mindset of sashimi merely presented on a plate - with this spectacular offering featuring spherical ice, flashing lights and a broad range of sashimi including Kingfish, King George Whiting, Salmon, Blow torched Wagyu, Calamari and Fish Cakes to name a few. Of course served with wasabi and delightful pickled ginger. Again this was a play on textures and flavours.
A showstopper is the Nori Tacos. This was revolutionary. Grilled salmon belly, vinegar rice, spicy nappa cabbage, Japanese mayo and chilli oil. The combination of tastes and textures is compelling, and presentation spectacular. For us this was a great rendition of a fish taco, with technique and flair. With a hint of chilli these tacos have a bit of kick...
4. Izakaya Den - CBD
Japanese sensation in a basement. Open for lunch and dinner Izakaya Den is a cool uber chic dining experience. The concept of a izakaya is like a Japanese tavern with small meals to enjoy with drinks.
So I journeyed down the stairs to the basement and came upon a non-descript door with a curtain across it… Aha! This was like an episode of Lord of the Rings – would I stumble upon this treasure of a restaurant? After a while I made out the word “DEN” on the door and knew I had arrived!
I then walked in to the most amazing chic cool place in Melbourne. Long and narrow, dimly lit with cool décor and a long bar. Admire the benches and tables. Cool to have the menu projected on the wall. Enjoy the chefs doing their masterful work in the open kitchen.
While sitting there eating I was enjoying the ambience of Izakaya Den. The place was buzzing on a weekday evening. We love the "counter culture" concept with sushi featured on occasion, with skillful Executive Chef Kentaro.
5. Minamishima - Richmond
Minamishima is about sushi fine dining, with a set menu to show you what the chef can do... Sushi is showcased with delicacy and skill of a master.
At the heart of the omakase offering from sushi master Koichi Minamishima lies not only 25 years of experience, but also an increasingly rare culinary art form. The World Loves Melbourne loves the goal - to fill each diner with joy through the art form of sushi.
Tucked down a one-way street in Richmond is Minamishima, the most intimate Japanese dining experience in Melbourne. Omakase involves placing faith in the integrity of the chef. There is no a la carte menu; this is a journey through a progression of courses with the utmost focus on texture, balance and appearance – as decided by the chef.
Minamishima's omakase is produce-driven, focusing on raw ingredients as they come into season. There are two dining options. At the sushi bar a seasonal entree is served to whet the appetite, followed by sushi presented to the diner one piece at a time. Broth and a traditional dessert follow.
In the dining room and private area that can accommodate up to eight people, the focus extends to the cooking method, from steamed through to grilled. Sushi is also presented but in harmonious groupings, via traditional table service. Sake and wine pairings are also available.
6. Shira Nui - Glen Waverley
Shira Nui is an unexpected surprise for those visiting the shopping precinct in Glen Waverley and has become a Japanese dining icon in the eastern suburbs. Chef Hiro Nishikura serves up sushi of the highest quality with a touch of flair. Sit at the bar and enjoy the experience, with the chef in full view. This is not a cheap restaurant but they amaze you with value for money lunch specials with a large plate of high grade sushi. The decor might not be lavish but the food is first class. The Omakase menu means "I'll leave it to you." This makes for variety and a menu that is never static but excites.
7. Sake - Southbank
Sake Melbourne is related to its Sydney sister but is forging its own unique identity in Melbourne. Chef Wayne Brown is bringing his philosophy to the fine delicate dining with extraordinary technique and signature dishes that sing. The World Loves Melbourne (David and Mario) was invited to sample some recent changes in menu with Chef Wayne introducing new dishes gradually. Sake Melbourne is a top notch dining destination with superb ambience by the Yarra, a plethora of signature dishes, friendly attention to detail service, and a great knowledge of all things sake wine.
Wayne Brown Executive Chef came out from the kitchen to chat with The World Loves Melbourne. Passionate and engaging Wayne said he was introducing his own mark on the popular Japanese restaurant and introducing some new dishes. Says the website, "Wayne is thrilled to have rejoined the Saké family, having worked in the Sydney venue in 2013. Brown’s experience spans exceptional international restaurants, including Sydney’s Three-Hatted Quay, Michelin-Starred Waku Ghin and Guy Savoy restaurants in Singapore and Two-Hatted The Stokehouse.
As well as his experience in Australia and Singapore, Brown worked as a pastry chef at Two Rooms Bar & Grill in Tokyo, preparing traditional and contemporary Japanese desserts. Most recently, Brown has served as Head Chef at Flaming Olive Restaurant & Bar, where he has been responsible for seasonable menu planning, demonstrating creative culinary creations, and leading a strong team. Passionate about seasonal produce and balanced flavours, Wayne is excited to bring his love of Japanese cuisine to guests at Hamer Hall."
Sake is also known for its top notch sushi...
Sake boasts top Japanese chefs working in an open kitchen. As you walk past them they greet you in Japanese (nice touch). The World Loves Melbourne could only respond with "Konichiwa!"
8. Kenzan - CBD
Kenzan is a super popular lunch destination for professionals on Collins St, an icon since 1982. Come here for the spider sushi featuring sumptuous soft shell crab. Imbibe fresh sushi from the sushi bar or at the tables. If you have the opportunity order the large sushi and sashimi platter, in the conversation as one of the best in Melbourne.
The name for the restaurant has been chosen to honour the renowned Edo period potter, Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743).
9. Wabi Sabi Salon - Collingwood
Where to go for lunch on Smith St? So many choices. Wabi Sabi Salon is an award winning Japanese Restaurant that offers great value. Walk in to a dimly lit longish and narrow establishment featuring interesting use of wood (check out the beams). Funky Japanese artwork on the walls. Has a cool ambience.
The sushi looked great – and is a popular take away for lunchgoers. Have to say Japanese food fills me up but I never feel heavy for the afternoon shift back at the office.
I'm not sure how to drink miso soup out of a bowl and looked pretty stupid holding it up to my face and slurping it everywhere. Very tricky when you’re wearing a suit and tie! Think I must lower my head closer to the table…
This place even has an outdoor garden. Took a photo of staff when paying my bill just for the blog – possibly insensitive by me as this guy looked shocked as I snapped while he handed me my change. So sorry! Love there's several great Japanese places in Smith St.
10. Hihou - Flinders Lane
Located on the corner of Spring Street and Flinders Lane, Hihou (meaning secret treasure) is a Japanese restaurant bar above Simon Denton’s Kappo.
With a sophisticated minimalist layout, Hihou has an understated and intimate feel with the right level of sophistication. A feature is the long black marble group table that's surrounded by stools with mood lighting.