Sydney has a wealth of Japanese restaurants and a number of them are offering diners the chance to try special menus inspired by Tokyo Lunch, a campaign by Tokyo tourism.

To help you decide where to start, we put four top eateries to the test:

SAKE RESTAURANT

Going for lunch is a gift: a gift of time, taste and, hopefully, good company. So when the Tokyo lunch at Sake Restaurant at The Rocks arrives in a box to be uncovered, it seems quite fitting.

Lifting the lid on the Tokyo Teishoku bento box, the creation of executive chef Shaun Presland, exposes four separate compartments.

The chicken karaage, fried and served with a mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon, tastes lighter than you might expect. The grilled miso-marinated cod tastes creamy, and is lightly coated in a sweet glaze.

The sushi comes with a mix of vegetable and fish. But it’s the wasabi which is the most remarkable part of this compartment: crumbly, yet creamy, and not too spicy. Presland’s piece-de-resistance is the mochi rice-cake dessert. The chef himself has said he’s most interested to see how people tackle it. Three white gelatinous blobs lie alongside two little containers containing ground soybeans and kuromitsu brown sugar syrup.

Honestly, there’s no polite way to eat this cake. Taking the blobs and rolling them in both the sugar and the soybeans somehow works. It’s an interesting flavour, but perhaps the least tasty part of this box.

However, the rest of the box was heavenly.

Given that Kylie Minogue was recently spotted dining in the restaurant with fellow Voice judge Joel Madden, anyone would be lucky, lucky, lucky to try this Tokyo offering.

Details: The Tokyo Teishoku box is $33. Sake Restaurant is located at 12 Argyle Street, The Rocks. Ph: 9259 5656 or visit www.sakerestaurant.com.au

BLANCHARU BY YOMO

Blancharu is a small Japanese-French fusion restaurant in the heart of Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

The Tokyo Lunch set menu, which will remain the same for the entire summer, centres around a Tokyo prawn tempura chazuke. The dish ($23) features battered king prawns on a bed of rice and edamame beans served with a green tea dashi, which when poured onto the dish turns it into a delicious soup.

It is a simple, tasty and comforting Japanese dish presented well and on its own and makes for a perfect lunch or quick dinner.

For a longer affair, you can pair it with a starter of ocean trout carpaccio served with a sweet fennel wasabi sauce for $31. This is another beautiful and delicate dish, but the menu offers no options for vegetarians or those not into seafood.

The three-course set menu ($42) offers a green tea cream caramel served with an almond pecan orange sauce for dessert. This pretty dish is very sweet despite the green tea flavours, but perhaps the perfect antidote to the salty fish.

The ambiance in the restaurant is cosy, minimalist and calm, and the service impeccable.

Details: Blancharu by Yomo is located at 1/21 Elizabeth Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay. Ph: 9360 3555 or visit www.blancahru.com.au.

OOH RICE?!

If you’re after a quick, affordable Japanese meal then Ooh Rice?! will suit you to a tee – a green tea that is.

Situated in the beating heart of Sydney’s central business district, this take-away only hole-in-the-wall is so small that if you sneezed you’d miss it.

Their Toyko Lunch set menu is a Japanese style curry served with a generous portion of rice, amusingly formed in the shape of the Tokyo Skytree tower.

It comes with a side of karaage, the Japanese version of fried chicken, and some red pickled ginger to spice things up.

If this is not enough goodness for the bargain price of $10, they also pop in a free Ooh Rice?! tote bag.

Call me unworldly, but this was my first Japanese curry experience and it was so positive it will have me returning for more. It’s not the healthiest of Japanese dishes compared to sashimi or sushi, but it sure is tasty.

Details: Ooh Rice?! is at 12B Hunter Connection Foodcourt, 7-13 Hunter Street. Ph: 9223 9962. Ooh Rice?! does not have a website but you can find them on Facebook by searching “Ooh Rice”.

OCEAN ROOM

For modern Japanese cuisine and stunning views to enjoy it from, book a table at the stylish Ocean Room in Circular Quay.

As part of Tokyo Lunch, Ocean Room is offering three light courses for $36.

The star of it all is the Edomae sushi plate – a very traditional dish that chef Raita Noda has modernised with seasonal Sydney seafood.

The seafood is very sophisticated and includes pickled lean tuna, roasted red snapper with jelly sake, and frost-baked trout. The presentation of it all is immaculate.

There is also a delicious dessert of strawberry mousse with rhubarb, strawberries and pickled strawberry soda. It’s the perfect touch of sweetness to end the meal and you’ll be left wanting more.

Ocean Room has an impressive list of alcoholic Japanese beverages, so it’s worth taking a longer lunch to sample of a few varieties.

The Tokyo Lunch menu is available at lunchtime only, from 12pm-3pm (Tue-Fri).

Details: Ocean Room is on the ground floor of the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay West, The Rocks. Ph: 9252 9585 www.oceanroomsydney.com.

  • Eight Japanese restaurants in Sydney are taking part in Tokyo Lunch, offering Tokyo-inspired menus until February 25. For more, visit tokyocp2013.org.au.