There’s traditional and then there’s miso-caramel chocolate fondant.
The bento boxes at this cute little restaurant are some of the best around – and not just at lunchtime. Mizu’s Special Breakfast Bento Box (weekends only) includes grilled fish of the day, chicken karaage, prawn skewers, boiled egg and fried veggies. At dinner, the signature salmon carpaccio is a fresh, tasty option, while the pan-fried Wagyu rib eye with sukiyaki garlic-butter sauce is deeply satisfying.
2 Macquarie Street, Teneriffe; (07) 3254 0488
63 Hardgrave Road, West End; (07) 3844 9918
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Sono Japanese Restaurant
Sono has that special-occasion feel to it, with attentive kimono-clad waitstaff and, at the Portside restaurant, views of the river. The six-course tasting menu is worthy of whatever it is you may be celebrating, and includes the option to sample some excellent Queensland Kobe Wagyu steak for main course. Things are slightly more relaxed at the Queen Street Mall restaurant – but no less delicious.
Level 1, Portside Wharf, 39 Hercules Street, Hamilton; (07) 3268 6655
Level 1, Tattersalls Building, corner Edward and Queen streets, Brisbane; (07) 3220 1888
Bishamon Japanese Restaurant
Although it’s located outside of Brisbane’s most popular dining precincts, this casual, down-to-earth restaurant is always bustling. People come to Bishamon for the consistently good teppanyaki, generous shabu shabu, and also chef’s specials like stir-fried cuttlefish and snow peas in lettuce cups.
500 Boundary Street, Spring Hill; (07) 3832 3888
The locals would’ve loved to keep this little place to themselves, but the word’s out. You’ll usually find both the inside and outside dining areas at Hosokawa packed with families fighting over the last freshly made spicy tuna roll or golden-fried tempura scallop.
3/53 Racecourse Road, Hamilton; (07) 3868 3762
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Taro’s has long been the go-to place for ramen in the city. The rich, fragrant broth made from sweet Bangalow pork keeps CBD workers coming back for more. Now with fancy new digs in the chic Dexus complex on Queen Street, the experience is sweeter than ever.
2/480 Queen Street, Brisbane; (07) 3839 4840
145 Racecourse Road, Ascot; (07) 3868 2833
Fresh Sushi Co.
There’s more to this swanky seafood market that meets the eye. Make your way past the fresh seafood displays to the little eatery at the back of Fresh Fish Co., where you can lunch on Moreton Bay bug sushi rolls, incredibly fresh sashimi and a selection of tempura and noodle soups, all featuring some of the freshest seafood around. It’s also open for dinner Friday and Saturday.
James Street Market, 22 James Street, Fortitude Valley; (07) 3852 6659
It’s not compulsory to have a big frosty mug of beer, but in a restaurant where yakitori is the house specialty, it’s definitely advisable. Think icy-cold draught Asahi with sizzling chicken tenderloin skewers cooked over charcoal and served with mayo and crunchy garlic and you’ll get a sense of Bird’s Nest. Lunch specials are a good deal at $12, which includes unlimited miso soup and rice.
702 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley; (07) 3257 2305
Shop 5, 220 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane; (07) 3844 4306
During the day this cute, cosy den offers a wide selection of sushi made to order as well as donburi rice bowls, noodles, salads and sides. Come evening and in the true spirit of izakaya, Kotoburi can get quite rowdy. The shochu begins to flow, along with Japanese beer, whisky and a huge range of saké as city workers and students congregate for gyoza, yakitori and noodles.
93 Albert Street, Brisbane; (07) 3061 2152
Saké is like the rebellious child who’s determined to do things differently despite the traditional values instilled during her upbringing. Part of Rockpool Dining Group, the restaurant continues to shake things up. The popcorn shrimp with spicy sauce and sashimi tacos served with saké shots have made way for some exciting new flavours. Perry has reinvented the menu and the table is brimming with offerings such as Cape Grim short-rib bossam and prawn cutlets with a dollop of shio koji mayonnaise. A sleek contemporary interior features an open kitchen and a wall of brightly coloured saké barrels – testament to the staggering selection on offer. There’s nothing traditional about a miso-caramel chocolate fondant with coffee ice-cream – and for this savoury-sweet defiance you will be grateful.
Level 1, 45 Eagle Street, Brisbane; (07) 3015 0557
And if you're visiting Noosa...
Wasabi Restaurant & Bar
What’s the best way to achieve a Zen state of mind? Head to the Sunshine Coast, secure a waterfront table on the banks of the pristine Noosa River and order the omakase menu at Wasabi. Specific elements of the sashimi course depend on what appears in the nets of local fishing boats on the day so it may be saltwater barramundi – served with a sprinkling of finger-lime pearls and crunchy, paper-thin radish slivers – or perhaps sweet scallops from Hervey Bay. The spanner crab from nearby Mooloolaba comes encased in light, crunchy tempura and is served alongside a yamaimo (yam) dumpling, sprinkled with citrus salt. Although this is definitely the setting for seafood, seared Mayura Station Wagyu with charcoal-roasted bone marrow is no second prize. If all this doesn’t leave you in a state of culinary enlightenment then we venture that nothing will.
2 Quamby Place, Noosa; (07) 5449 2443
Top image: Saké