Japanese food is having something of a moment in Western Australia. Here are seven of the capital city’s best examples of nihon ryōri.
You want izakaya comfort? This lively eatery in leafy Mosman Park can oblige. While the chef, Tetsuya Sakamoto, does a fine line in Japanese classics – crisp karaage chicken, savoury agedashi tofu, juicy quail gyoza – he’s equally adept at the cuisine’s deeper cuts, as demonstrated by the seasonal tasting menus served at Tsunami’s intimate counter restaurant. Diners who leave all the decisions to the kitchen have their show of faith rewarded with delicacies such as monkfish liver, elegantly cut sashimi seasoned with deeply savoury shoyu koji and seasonal seafood and vegetable tempura. The new sushi omakase (Monday to Thursday only) and a liquor cabinet packed with Japanese craft beers, saké and whisky – many of which owner Brett Carboni imports himself – further underscore a commitment to Nipponese food and drink culture.
18 Glyde Street, Mosman Park; (08) 9284 7788
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One does not simply walk into Marumo. Bookings at this bijou omakase restaurant are released online every quarter and disappear in a flash so dining here requires no small measure of planning and luck. (Tip: the more friends you have clicking away when tables are released, the more likely you are to land a reservation.) As you’d expect from a restaurant in step with seasonal flavours, dishes come and go with each month’s menu but reverently handled ingredients are a given. Inari pouches freighting vinegared rice and herring roe are (almost) too pretty to eat, while bulky sushi rolls bursting with soft-shell crab and salmon belly are typical of chef Moe Oo’s wilder moments. Factor in a value-packed menu ($65) and the freedom to bring your own alcohol and Marumo’s appeal is all too clear. Permission to stalk the restaurant’s website is granted.
22/145 Stirling Highway, Nedlands; 0431 040 899
The nation’s recent ramen boom has seen a proliferation of dedicated Japanese noodle restaurants across Perth. One of the standouts from the current crop is Nomstar, a fresh-faced eatery in the university hamlet of Karawara. Owner Scott Wang studied the finer points of cooking ramen in Osaka and it shows in every bowl, from the bite of housemade noodles to the high-definition broth and toothsome chashu (roast pork). Rice bowls, including a comforting pork katsu curry, are a new addition to the menu.
34/230 Manning Road, Karawara
Nao is one of the city’s original ramen strongholds – and still one of its best. Owner Naoki Kobayashi has moved his eponymous restaurant from its original Murray Street address to Equus Arcade around the corner (just look for the lunchtime queues) and his commitment to sweating the details is as strong as ever. Guests can customise their bowls to the nth degree and choose from four kinds of housemade noodles.
191/580 Hay Street, Perth; (08) 9325 2090
Ichirin is a tale of two restaurants. By day, this neighbourhood diner in Leeming does a solid line in Japanese staples (try the Kansai-style curry udon at lunch) but at night, locals and out-of-towners flock here for chef Shiro Okuchi’s value-packed $60 tasting menu. From precision-cut, translucent tiles of kingfish sashimi to wonderfully juicy duck breast smudged with grapefruit miso, Okuchi-san’s omakase is a win for both taste and value. Reservations are essential.
Shop 2, Corner Beasley Road and Dundee Street, Leeming; (08) 9310 8255
Kozo “Shige” Shigeyoshi is one of the city’s Japanese food pioneers. Since arriving in Perth in 1982, he’s introduced countless eaters to the joys of his homeland’s cuisine. While the daytime menu at his elegant restaurant focuses on lunchtime-friendly winners (tonkatsu rice sets, say, or a really great chilled soba), evenings see Shige at its best. Request a seat at the counter and watch the master cut and press pristine seafood into sashimi and sushi. Otherwise, excellent renditions of izakaya classics, like wispy agedashi tofu and addictively salty chicken karaage, are also wins for diners.
1/18 Plain Street, East Perth; (08) 6161 0858
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually deliciousness. That’s certainly the case at Jun, Perth’s yakitori restaurant to beat. For those not au fait with the Japanese art of dividing chickens into precise anatomical components – bonjiri (the “parson’s nose”) or kawa (chicken skin), for instance – and carefully grilling said bits over charcoal, this underground restaurant is an ideal introduction to the cuisine. Pickled vegetables and side dishes easily turn a snack of skewers into a meal, while lunchtime sees the restaurant serve punchy bowls of tonkotsu ramen.
568 Hay Street, Perth; (08) 9221 3339
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