Six new casual Japanese restaurants

The back streets of Japanese cities are filled with tiny eateries, each specialising in different dishes. They’re the inspiration for travellers who have gone home to create their own version of Japanese eateries on their own shores. Here are some of our latest Japanese restaurants:

Cafoo Izakaya 6 Fifth Avenue, Palm Beach Ph: 07 5525 6759

Chef Masahiko Kaneko and his wife Tatako recently opened this atmospheric space specialising in seafood and yakitori skewers. After operating his own restaurant in Japan for 13 years, Chef Masa worked in the Sofitel, Palazzo Versace, O-Sushi and Reef Seafood. It’s the blend of old and new that’s intriguing at Cafoo Izakaya – seafood, fusion and traditional dishes, and great value lunches.

Izakaya Umakamon, 40 – 42 Hanlon St., Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5527 6723

Seigo Hakata, former Head Chef and manager of JFX, opened Izakaya Umakamon in 2018. This tiny 22-seat restaurant in the heart of ‘party central’ Surfers Paradise is a haven for students, local business people and those seeking a good time. With well-priced drinks including cocktails and excellent Japanese-style comfort dishes, many being Chef Seigo’s own version, Umakamon is a little gem.

Kemuri  3/124 Pappas Way Carrara Ph: 0451 133 996

Owned and operated by sommelier Hiroyuki Okubo (ex-Head Sommelier at Paper Daisy and the Hilton) and wife Chef Yuki, Kemuri boasts an unusual combination: Hiro’s expertise in fine sake and wine paired with his wife’s exceptional food – handmade bao buns with crunchy softshell crab filling, Angel Wings gyoza joined by a fine biscuit-like layer and free-range Chicken Karaage – the best we’ve eaten!

Little Itoshin 6/110 Mountain View Ave, Miami

Owner/chef Hibiki Ito’s Little Itoshin, named after his parents’ restaurant Itoshin, is a modern take on a Japanese diner. Open for lunch and dinner, it’s a fully licensed izakaya adapted to modern dining. Little Itoshin is renowned for its food quality: the freshest sashimi grade fish straight from the trawlers, oysters brimming with sea water, plus hot and cold dishes made to order with precision and finesse.

Oi Izakaya 4/30 James St, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 3129 0628

Oi Izakaya is a dimly lit atmospheric izakaya, with burned wood interior and noren framed doorways.The team have constructed a menu of dishes to share: ‘Otsumami’ or snacks, ‘Osyokuji’ (larger share plates), Okonomiyaki (a pancake-like dish) and Yakisoba plus dessert. Oi Izakaya’s well-stocked bar, brimming with spirits and Suntory beer on tap also boasts delicious cocktails.

Project Tokyo 90 Markeri St, Mermaid Waters Ph: 07 5526 1075

The international experience of Project Tokyo’s owners, Franz Zdesar and Executive Chef Geoff Anstee, flows over into both their food and service. Enjoy their modern Japanese-inspired dishes in an Omakase Set Menu, leaving the food and drink selection up to the chef. The finest local ingredients are beautifully presented, but here it’s also about taste, clever combinations transporting each dish into a modern era.