Japanese food is one of the most sought after cuisines in the world and, with current restrictions prohibiting travel and any first-hand experience of Japan’s vast culture, Bristol’s Japanese restaurant scene provides the next best thing.
Japanese cuisine, or ‘washoku’, is one of immense cultural and historical influence in Japan, so much so that it is listed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The continued practice and tuition of washoku ensures that the customs and traditions it comprises which, in Japan, have been passed from generation to generation for over a thousand years, is preserved to the greatest possible extent.
So whether you’ve been to Japan and want to relive those wonderful pre-Covid days when travel was possible, or you’ve just grown tired of inauthentic, mass-produced meal-deal packs of sushi, Bristol’s Japanese restaurants are likely to be exactly what you’re looking for. Here we rank what, in our opinion, are the best restaurants Bristol has to offer for authentic, traditional Japanese cuisine.
1. Kansai Kitchen
53 Hillgrove Street, North Hillgrove Porter Stores, BS2 8LT
Our pick for the best Japanese restaurant in Bristol is Kansai Kitchen. If authenticity is what you’re after, you won’t go wrong with Kansai Kitchen. The restaurant is owned and run by Liam, a food guide and cooking instructor who lived and travelled around Japan studying their cuisine for close to a decade, and his wife, Michi, who is from Japan.
They place great importance on serving Japanese food as it is traditionally served and enjoyed in Japan, without altering its dishes and flavours in the same way
that popular chains such as Itsu and Wagamama have. A visit to Kansai Kitchen is as much a cultural as it is a tasty experience and, that being the case, who wouldn’t want that cultural experience to be as accurate as possible?
Kansai Kitchen offers a variety of authentic rice- and noodle-based dishes, curries and even traditional Japanese homemade ice-cream. They also offer numerous vegetarian and vegan options to ensure that anyone who chooses to visit is equally well looked after.
Click here for their latest menu.
2. Yakinori Bristol
78 Park Street, BS1 5LA
Located on Bristol’s lively Park Street, Yakinori’s restaurant in Bristol is it’s only restaurant outside of the West Midlands. They pride themselves on serving numerous popular Japanese dishes to suit anyone with even the particular of tastes.
Whether you’re after sushi, an authentic Japanese noodle dish or Katsu and Kokonatsu curries, Yakinori will not disappoint (we recommend trying one of their popular Bento boxes). They offer a similarly traditional assortment of Japanese drinks: whether you’re after a Japanese beer, freshly squeezed juices, bubble tea or various Japanese and Western soft drinks, Yakinori has you covered.
For those looking to try something new, Yakinori also offers both Umeshu plum wine and Hakushika sake in various sizes and quantities; you can even take a bottle home.
For true lovers of Japanese food, however, merely enjoying the Japanese dishes on offer may not be enough. If this sounds familiar, Yakinori’s Sushi Masterclass may be for you. This class introduces groups of up to 8 people to the vast history, as well as the fundamental techniques involved in the preparation of Japan’s most famous dish. This makes for a perfect present or day out for any sushi lover, with vegetarian and vegan alternatives available upon request.
With such an abundance of choice, Yakinori Bristol is sure to provide a taste of Japanese culture that’ll appeal to even the fussiest of eaters. Yakinori is also perfect for students and NHS staff, who receive a 20% discount on any item on the main menu.
The Old Mess Room, Exchange Avenue, BS1 1JQ
If you’re looking for a quick lunch, an easy, good value bite that doesn’t skimp on authenticity or taste, Eatchu is the place for you.
Since opening in Bristol’s St. Nick’s market in 2016, Eatchu has served just two flavours of gyoza (traditional Japanese dumplings): spinach and tofu or pork and garlic chive. Their small, specialised menu has enabled them to truly perfect the art of gyoza; no jack of all trades, master of none here.
With both meaty and veggie gyoza dishes on offer, along with both vegetarian and vegan side dishes, Eatchu will impress even the fussiest lover of Japanese food. Their undeniable quality is no secret either; they are listed as Tripadvisor’s 8th best restaurant in Bristol (of over 1,100!), earning their Travellers’ Choice award for 2020. Take a look at their menu here.
The Robin Hood, 56 St. Michael’s Hill, BS2 8DX
The Volunteer Tavern, 9 New Street, BS2 9DX
Ok, this one isn’t a restaurant in the traditional sense, but it’s more than earned its mention on this list anyway. This Japanese-inspired pop-up kitchen serves a great selection of small plates and sides, Donburi dishes, as well as home-made ice cream and their famous dirty fries. They offer an abundance of choice for both vegans and ‘ethical omnivores’, so there’s something on their menu for anyone.
They currently operate in two pubs: The Robin Hood (Tuesday – Saturday, 17:30 – 21:00) and The Volunteer Tavern (Tuesday – Friday, 17:00 – 20:30, and Saturdays, 12:00 – 20:30). They offer dine-in and take away options at both venues, so their food can be enjoyed out or in the comfort of your home.
Take a look at their menu here.
5. Izakaya Japanese Bar
39 College Green, BS1 5SH
In Japan, an izakaya is an informal establishment that serves alcoholic drinks and snacks, frequented by many looking for a relaxing drink after work. While izakayas are often compared to British pubs or American taverns, neither comparison fits all that well. They offer a unique atmosphere and charm of their own, and Izakaya Japanese Bar in Bristol’s city centre is no exception.
This isn’t the place for a formal dinner, but if you’re after a relaxed and fun drink whilst enjoying their incredible selection of Japanese street food, poke bowls, katsu curries and sushi, this place will certainly not disappoint.
Check out their menu here.
6. Ramen Ya
61 Gloucester Road, BS7 8AD
Since opening its doors in 2016, Ramen Ya has well and truly made a name for itself on Bristol’s Gloucester Road, the longest road of independent shops in the UK.
Its cosy and welcoming atmosphere is noticeable from the moment you walk in, and the food doesn’t disappoint either. Whether you’re after seafood or meat, noodles, curries, or a traditional bowl of Miso soup, Ramen Ya have you well and truly covered. They also have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options as well so those with special dietary requirements are equally well looked after.
They even offer a highly discounted kids menu, as well as a selection of unique small plates for those looking for those who aren’t as hungry or would like a side dish to share. Take a look at their menu here.
7. Nomu Japanese Kitchen and Cocktail Bar
81 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2NT
If you’re looking to sample a variety of popular Japanese dishes, whilst also enjoying a selection of delicious Japanese cocktails, Nomu is the place for you.
They offer a wide range of over 20 traditional Japanese dishes that can be purchased individually, or as part of their 3 for £15 deal, perfect for those who are new to Japanese food and would like to sample more than one dish. Sushi and Katsu Curry lovers will feel right at home at Nomu, with meat, seafood and vegetarian options also available.
What really sets Nomu apart from the other Japanese restaurants on this list, however, is their vast offering of drinks to enjoy alongside your favourite dish. They offer multiple Japanese beers, a wide selection of wine, traditional Japanese sake served in a flask and a vast menu of over 50 different cocktails. So whether you’d like to try a Zen Garden Martini, a Tokyo Ice Tea, a glass of Okazaki Sunset, or any of the other great options on the drinks menu, you won’t run out of options here.
8. Bento Boss
6 Clifton Down Station Whiteladies Gate, BS8 2PN
Located above the Clifton Down shops along Whiteladies Road, Bento Boss truly is a hidden gem of Bristol’s restaurant scene. Perfect for a snack or a casual dinner, their fresh and authentic Japanese dishes, as well as their friendly and attentive service ensure that anyone who visits, leaves wholly satisfied.
They offer a wide selection of tasty small bites, as well as a variety of Bao and Wok dishes, curries, soups and tasty sushi meals. They even offer a sizeable separate menu for vegans. Take a look at their menu here.
9. Fujiyama Bristol
21 Regent Street, Clifton, BS8 4HW
Located in Clifton, about a mile from Bristol’s city centre, Fujiyama is yet another place to consider if authentic Japanese dishes, as well as their fantastic sushi, is what you’re after.
You can choose from their extensive menu of individual meals, or one of their sushi set meals, which consist of up to 63 pieces of sushi. For smaller groups of sushi lovers, however, smaller set meals are available with as little as 18 pieces of sushi.
While Fujiyama offers seating in their restaurant, they do also offer a 10% discount for home delivery orders, which they deliver free of charge if you have a BS1, BS2, BS6, BS8 or BS9 postcode.
Check out their website here.
So there we have it; our picks for the best Japanese restaurants in Bristol. With so many Japanese restaurants to choose from, there really is no reason to settle for anything less than the service and food provided by the establishments listed here.
In a time when travel to Japan is not really possible, tasting the vast and historically rich cuisine of Japan, in our opinion, the next best thing. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat in the city centre, or a big, sit-down meal to enjoy with your whole family, the restaurants we have mentioned here will not disappoint.