Bristol’s best Japanese restaurants

I was a latecomer to the wonders of Japanese food – chains like Wagamama had put me off. But recently, I can’t get enough of the intelligent, beautiful and precise cuisine.

Fortunately Bristol has some great Japanese restaurants. My favourite three? In order:

12-13 Waterloo St Clifton, Bristol, Avon BS8 4BT

My favourite so far, and with the most inspiring menu out of my top three. Noa has an ex Nobu chef at the helm in the kitchen, and you can tell. The menu is presented as a flip chart, with tabs reading sushi, sashimi, traditional Japanese mains, rice and noodles, starters, desserts – the range is impressive.

Gyoza (mince meat dumplings), so fresh they are falling apart, served with hot and sour dipping sauce are a favourite, while snow crab and mango rolls and Noa house rolls double up as a refreshing starter. All served in first class Japanese style that showcases the beautiful food and makes eating here feel like a celebration.

Mains are a mix of traditional and innovative. The sirloin teriyaki is sweet and salty at the same time, while the soft beef melts in the mouth. The Katsu don is the best I have ever tasted – crisp Panko breadcrumbs encase tasty pork with egg and rice, all so simple but so delicious. The accompanying miso soup is umami in a bowl, while the delicate pickles freshen things up.

Not only that, but Noa is also good at puddings, something that other Japanese restaurants don’t manage, but when you have been enjoying yourself so much in Noa it is difficult to turn down the green tea crème brulee!

noa japanese

Masa Japanese Restaurant
42-46 Baldwin St, Bristol, BS1 1PN‎

A cross between Yo Sushi! style conveyor belts and Noa style restaurant, Masa is my second favourite Japanese restaurant in Bristol. The menu is diverse, and they are famous for their Teppanyaki – where chefs cook fresh food in front of guests.

The miso soup here is my favourite of all, and the snow crab dumplings with spicy sauce are heavenly – served in their own steamer with cleverly placed cucumber slices to prevent sticking – these are delicious.

The sushi is good, and the beef teriyaki rivals Noa, but I have yet to witness the Teppanyaki, which I imagine would make for a fun evening!

Service is friendly, and prices are reasonable – definitely worth a visit.

69 Baldwin Street Bristol BS1 1QZ

Bottom of the list primarily due to slightly arrogant service, Obento does some mean sushi, and their bento boxes are good too.

I took a group of friends here for dinner and they loved the food – it is nice to go somewhere different – but unfortunately on that occasion the service really let us down. Constantly having to get up and ask for things is not my idea of a fun night out!

Having said that I have been back a few times since and am happy to report that on both occasions the service was quick and even friendly! They do take away too if you are worried about the service though!

Good prices but less cosy than both Noa and Masa, and definitely less welcoming, but worth a visit nonetheless. Lunch time is a good shout if you live in town – bentos are cheap and they always have half price sushi.

A favourite combo? Dynamite rolls, miso soup and edamame.


8 thoughts on “Bristol’s best Japanese restaurants

  1. Gail Perry Reply

    My mouth is watering. Let’s put this on the list for the next time I’m in town!

  2. Preena Shah Reply

    Upon reading this review I visited Noa. The service is good and attentive. The first time I visited I ordered the sakura set menu to get a taste of what the restaurant. The starter of beef tataki, it was sublime a flavour explosion of pepper and tomato and slight salt, and the beef was able to stand up to sauce. My main was chef’s selection of sushi and sashimi, beautiful and simple clean flavours. The desert of green tea creme brulee was not as exciting as i would have hoped. However the whole way through the meal the food presentation was simple but beautiful. I highly recommend a visit even if you think Japanese food may not be for you, this is certainly a good place to kick of a love affair.

    • Gemma Reply

      Hi Preena

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment and we’re really pleased that you enjoyed it. I think that Noa have got it just right haven’t they, not too complicated, just great quality. Thanks again for leaving feedback

      Bristol Foodie

  3. Dan Reply

    Thanks for the review Becci, I have eaten in all three and agree with you entirely. Noa is by far my favorite and I have been there often. Their Soba in dashi with gigantic Prawn tempura is a definite highlight. I am usually full after all the sashimi but will definately try a dessert next time!

    • Gemma Reply

      Hi Dan – thanks for taking the time to comment, glad that you enjoyed the review and share our love of Noa!
      Always great to hear from you

      Becci & Gemma
      Bristol Foodie

  4. Neil Mullens Reply

    Totally agree about Noa. I lived in Japan for 16 years and the food is pretty authentic. The sushi was far better than I was expecting, fresh, tasty and well-prepared. (I tried the maguro, sake, hotategai and suzuki). Especially good considering the owners and staff aren’t Japanese.

    However, I’d have to say that Masa and oBento don’t even come close…

    • Gemma Reply

      Hi Neil
      Thanks got commenting – we love noa. Ambiance and food are spot on. I actually really enjoy obento’s sushi too, (although the fining experience and service is definitely not as good as noa)
      Nice to hear that with so much Japanese experience you find noa authentic and high quality too :-)

      Thanks again

  5. Jay Reply

    Obento is a terrible Japanese restaurant. The sushi is diabolical and the udon is far from authentic.

    Bristol is thin on Japanese cuisine and this is the bottom of the barrel.

    Yume is probably one of the best with regards to value and authenticity.

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