South-east Queensland has had a love affair with sushi ever since Japanese investment poured into the region in the late 1980s. It’s the Gold Coast’s flashy, no-holds-barred izakayas that tend to grab the headlines but Brisbane has the more discreet and arguably better scene, with even the cheaper establishments boasting both terrific service and fresh produce.
There are Sushi Edo outlets scattered across Brisbane but it’s the Newmarket restaurant that boasts the best reputation. The buzzy, wooden-boothed atmosphere and flat price of $3.80 per plate of fresh tuna, salmon and ungai adds to the charm.
137/400 Newmarket Road, Newmarket; (07) 3856 5058
Saké Restaurant & Bar
Saké does so many things so well, it’s easy to overlook this brilliant CBD diner’s sushi menu. An imaginative selection includes spicy tuna with arare crunch, or plates of hiramasa kingfish with coriander-infused sweet ponzu. Plus, the location is spectacular: your sushi comes with a side of Story Bridge view.
45 Eagle Street, Brisbane; (07) 3015 0557
If you get lost while looking for LR Sushi, just look for the tiny front counter being mobbed by officer workers come lunchtime. They’re duking it out for fabulous, firm rolls of salmon and avocado and tuna, flipped for almost unreasonably low prices. Grab a box, a fistful of wasabi and retreat with your catch to the food court downstairs.
149 Adelaide Street, Brisbane; 0421 656 006
Oishii Sushi Bar
Brisbane’s widest survey of Asian cuisine can be found 20 minutes south of the city in sprawling Sunnybank and its neighbouring suburbs. Oishii Sushi Bar is one of the very best examples, a no-fuss joint distinguished by the quality of its produce. The soft shell crab rolls and freshly sliced Tasmanian “Salmon Lover” sashimi are enormously popular here but don’t skip garlic butter scallops for entrée.
70 Pinelands Road, Sunnybank Hills; (07) 3423 7774
Hanaichi may have lost its charismatic mall-side tenancy a few years ago but this is still one of the most reliable sushi establishments in the CBD. Prices are reasonable, portions generous and the service friendly and unobtrusive. Just remember: you’re looking for the restaurant upstairs, not the take-out shack in the foodcourt below.
Wintergarden, Level 1 / 179 Queen Street, Brisbane; (07) 3210 0032
A go-to for refined Japanese comfort food, Hosokawa is a buzzy draw on an often-sleepy Racecourse Road in Brisbane’s northeast. Diners flock for sushi platters loaded with market fresh rolls of salmon, tuna, scallops and ikura but the hot dishes of grilled eggplant with miso or deep-fried crumbed oysters are worth few bites. Be sure to book on weekends.
3 / 53 Racecourse Road, Hamilton; (07) 3868 3762
About as no frills as sushi restaurants get, Sushi Kotobuki is set inside a humble shopfront in East Brisbane. Still, this is an authentic Japanese experience through and through, the service cheerful and the sushi precise from one visit to the next. And it’s cheap: just $4 for plates of salmon and prawn nigiri. Sushi Kotobuki is very popular with the students who live in the area — keep that in mind if you plan on visiting at peak time.
3 / 53 Lytton Road, East Brisbane; (07) 3392 2301
Mizu is a Teneriffe institution for the well-heeled couples and families that live in the area. The menu goes on seemingly forever and includes Japanese breakfast on the weekends but it’s the sushi that stands out — generous platters of sashimi and rolls of salmon or tuna and crunchy tenkasu. Time your visit with one of Mizu’s popular sushi-making classes, usually conducted once a month on Saturdays.
2 Macquarie Street, Newstead; (07) 3254 0488
Sono Japanese Restaurant
Sono represents Queensland’s decades-old love affair with formal Japanese dining but restaurateur William Liu has swept the space into this century with slick styling and first-class produce. The a la carte sushi and sashimi menus offer plenty of options, from small plates of kingfish and Hokkaido scallops to assorted platters crammed with Tasmanian salmon, Queensland tuna and oysters.
39 Hercules Street, Hamilton; (07) 3268 6655
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