Japanese cuisine is a feast to the eyes as well as the palate. Even small cafes present their dishes exquisitely. The food is refined and elegant and the lightness of the dishes fills you up without any uncomfortable after-meal feeling that some rich food gives you. Small Japanese outlets tend to focus on popular food like Sushi, Tonkatsu, Udon, Ramen and Tempura while bigger restaurants offer all these and more specialised dishes like Teppanyaki, Shabu-Shabu and Sukiyaki.
Hotaru's Barramundi Miso Yaki (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Hotaru Japanese Restaurant is my family's favourite Japanese restaurant in Adelaide. The serving size of the dishes was quite generous with the food being delicious as well, our favourite dish being the Barramundi Miso Yaki.
Ginza Miyako's Kamo Steak (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Ginza Miyako at Stamford Plaza Hotel has a more formal ambience than Hotaru and serves traditional Japanese dishes cooked using modern techniques with a French influence. Portions were a bit small but many of the dishes were quite unique, such as duck accompanied with a pepper and mustard sauce.
Matsuri's Sukiyaki (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Located across the road from Hotaru, Matsuri Japanese Restaurant is one of the oldest Japanese restaurant in Adelaide and one of the few places that offers both Shabu-Shabu and Sukiyaki. We particularly enjoyed their Sukiyaki due to the strong and slightly sweet flavour of the broth.
Himeji's Wagyu Bun (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Ramen Izakaya Himeji is a new Japanese restaurant on Grote Street. The restaurant is a bit different that is more like a more formal version of an Izakaya, small shops in Japan that serve small dishes and sake. The dishes are still enjoyable without sake however.
Katsumoto's Nasu Dengaku (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
For casual dining, Katsumoto Restaurant at Rundle Mall is our all-time favourite. We like Katsumoto's Nasu Dengaku (deep fried eggplant with sweet miso sauce) so much that we called it 'the eggplant place' for a long time because we can't remember the name of the restaurant. Their Tonkatsu, a breaded and deep fried pork cutlet is one of the best we have tasted.
Maki Maki's Tempura Udon (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
My mother and sister love udon, the Japanese thick wheat flour noodles. They both claimed that Maki Maki's udon is the best they have tasted in Adelaide so far. Located at Parc Arcade in Rundle Mall, Maki Maki was my favourite lunch place during my university days.
Sushi Planet Platter (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Sushi seems to be the most popular Japanese food in Adelaide. Every sushi outlet appears to be doing well. Sushi is fish, prawn, chicken, beef or vegetables served on rice that is seasoned lightly with vinegar. Another popular form of sushi is the sushi roll where the ingredients are wrapped in seaweed (nori). Our favourite takeaway sushi store is Uni Sushi at Mawson Lakes. The sushi sold there are fresh and tasty and Uni Sushi clear all the sushi at the end of each day by offering them at $2 a roll after 5pm. Sushi Planet at West Terrace is a nice place to enjoy sushi in a restaurant setting. The raw seafood used in some of their sushi was very fresh and while their desserts were delectable, we thought they were a bit overpriced.
Ajisen Ramen's Spicy Ramen (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Unlike my mother and sister, most noodle lovers prefer ramen (Japanese egg noodles) over udon and there are specialised ramen stores all over Japan. Ramen is served in many different varieties of savoury broth. Ajisen Ramen has a good variety of ramen to suit all tastes, as well as serving what we currently consider to be the best Karaage Chicken in Adelaide.
Saizen Sushi Bar's Tempura (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
My favourite Japanese dish is tempura, a dish of light and fluffy batter-coated seafood and vegetables. Saizen Sushi Bar in North Adelaide offers a very delectable Tempura for a place whose name suggests that it only offers sushi in addition to a good range of hot dishes.
Ramen Tei's Karaage Set (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
For a casual one bowl meal, my mother and I favour Katsudon – a bowl of rice topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu) and egg cooked in a dashi (cooking wine) and mirin (rice wine) sauce. We enjoyed the Katsudon from Uni Sushi and Ramen Tei at Market Plaza Food Court.
Aka's Okonomiyaki (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Aka at David Jones Food Court is one of the few places that serve Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) and Takoyaki (octopus ball). It's a convenient place to stop for a snack or lunch during a shopping spree at Rundle Mall.
Konnichiwa's Chicken Katsu Curry (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
If you love sushi train dining but dislike queueing up for a place, walk to the quieter end of Gouger Street and enjoy sushi and hot food at Konnichiwa. The cosy ambience of the restaurant also helped to make to eating there very enjoyable as well.
Do share your favourite Japanese restaurant with us. We can never have enough of Japanese food.
Hi Jon, great article, thanks for writing it. I look forward to trying some of these places. I'm not sure if the omission of Wasai Japanese Kitchen just off Gouger st was deliberate or not? I've been going to Wasai for years (I think it used to have a different name quite some years back), and the banquet is incredible value and the tastes incredible. It's always packed, make sure you book a time and arrive on time to be fair to the very hard working staff - absolutely no complaints from many many visits to Wasai.