BEST SUSHI RESTAURANTS

by Oleg Nikitenko September 28, 2018

BEST SUSHI RESTAURANTS

THE 31 BEST SUSHI RESTAURANTS IN AMERICA

 

Sushi these days is so ubiquitous that it's easy for it to become an afterthought, a literal last-minute lunch fix from the Whole Foods around the corner. And hey, the ever-increasing availability of sushi that at least qualifies as edible can only be seen as a good thing. But we're not here to talk about grocery stores or places with 17 different kinds of maki that contain cream cheese. We're here to talk about the places that elevate fish to an art form and leave you fondly recalling your meal months after it ended. For truly transcendent sushi, visit these 31 best sushi restaurants in America.

Akiko's

San Francisco, California
Run by the Lee family for three-plus decades, Akiko's is the rare establishment that excels equally at satisfying the customer looking for a casual date with some make and nigiri and the discerning omakase aficionado waiting to be impressed by Japanese black abalone and miso butter-kissed Hokkaido crab. Bonus: the sake selection is one of the best you'll find anywhere, and the tucked-away, almost cave-like ambiance really lends itself to indulgence. -- Matt Lynch

Arami

Chicago, Illinois
Arami's been through quite a bit since dazzling Chicagoans with its opening in 2010, including the departure of opening chef B.K. Park (who appears elsewhere on this list) and a brief closure due to a 2016 kitchen fire, but its status among the best sushi restaurants in a city rich with them despite its Midwest locale has never wavered. The skylit back dining room provides a welcoming backdrop for precise preparations that include atypically outstanding vegetal work -- anyone saddled with a devout vegan as a dining companion is likely find themselves a little jealous upon seeing how much they're enjoying the eggplant with red miso peanut sauce. -- ML

Bamboo Sushi

Portland, Oregon
Bamboo's Certified Green status and designation as the world's first certified sustainable sushi joint makes it perhaps the most eco-friendly restaurant in a city that would absolutely, unironically elect Captain Planet mayor if they could. The restaurant has taken green philosophy and expanded it to four casually modernist PDX destinations, with new locations soon to open in Seattle and Denver. Still, philosophy is irrelevant if the sushi isn't great. It is. Sure the careful sourcing means you're paying a little (though not much) more for the Kimono Roll with crab, cucumber, salmon, and pickled apple or the essential pole-caught Korean eel nigiri, but hey, you can feel good about where your money’s going, so go ahead and plop down a Benjamin for that omakase. -- Andy Kryza

Cafe Sushi

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Catering to a mix of Harvard students with money who don't quite yet realize just how good they're eating and Hub industry professionals to absolutely do, Cafe Sushi's nondescript moniker and low-key aesthetic fits well with its hidden gem profile, even if the secret is pretty thoroughly out at this point. While hints of their powers appear on the regular menu with signature options like marugo with wasabi oil and smoked sea salt, the generous omakase (prices vary but generally far more affordable than places of comparable quality) is the real draw, provided you're willing to risk dining next to a table of Winklevosses. -- ML

Dashi

Miami, Florida
A newcomer to Miami’s robust sushi scene, Dashi was forced to temporarily close in the wake of Irma, but keep an eye on its forthcoming resurrection. Lorded over by a protégé of Iron Chef Morimoto himself, this is the kind of modern, dockside eatery that thrives on attention to detail, from the decor all the way down to the immaculate food. Sushi and sashimi are served by the single piece, and each bite -- whether buttery toro, succulent smoked trout, or live scallop -- is presented in a singular manner that all but requires a photo shoot. But even if they were served on a Styrofoam plate, each and every bite of Shuji Hayakawa's edible art would be a revelation. And if it’s not sushi you crave, well, selections wagyu sukiyaki and sea bass miso are equally beautiful and tasty.  -- AK

Hashiri

San Francisco, California
Hashiri immediately became one of San Francisco's priciest sushi indulgences when it debuted in 2016, leaning on the cachet of having an established older sibling restaurant impressing diners in Tokyo. The vibrant, modern dining room is equipped with video projectors that display art installations that change with the seasons, reflecting the also ever-changing menu that earned them a Michelin star in their first effort. The kaiseki menu is split evenly (nine courses each) between sushi and other plated dishes like chilled snap pea broth with ebi and sturgeon caviar.  -- ML

Juno 

Chicago, Illinois
Chef B.K. Park's Juno (like his prior stop, the aforementioned Arami) had to overcome a closure due to a significant kitchen fire, the departure of Park's front-of-house partner Jason Chan, and probably a slew of bad Michael Cera jokes. Where were we? Oh right, the sushi. Anyone who experiences Park's food is likely to be wowed by showstopping signatures like smoked hamachi presented under a glass dome filled with cherry wood smoke, but also equally impressed by the deft hand and tight execution that informs subtler dishes that speak more softly. Like Michael Cera. Sorry. -- ML

Kai Zan

Chicago, Illinois
Identical twins Melvin and Carlo Vizconde honed their seafood skills at several Chicago sushi outfits before striking out on their own and establishing an energetic, risk-taking restaurant in a somewhat sleepy Humboldt Park location that wouldn't have previously been considered a likely destination for seekers of high-end sushi. And yet, five years in, it has established itself as a favorite among fish fans (and probably some Phish fans?) on the strength of an omakase marked by innovative flavors and plating and creations like the Orange Rush, which takes seared salmon wrapped around a citrus-kissed scallop and presents it on a scallop shell. Whichever twin thought of it was on his game that day. -- ML

Kame

Las Vegas, Nevada
Chef Eric Kim already had a devoted following for his perpetually bustling (and aptly named) Yummy Grill & Sushi, but he further elevated his game when he opened this adjacent omakase-only joint in early 2016, with space for just eight diners and time for just two seatings per night to enjoy his memorable 16-20 course journeys. As one would expect menus are steadily in flux based on seasonality and availability, but Kim is particularly fond of live preparations (octopus tentacle anyone?) and sourcing hard-to-find seafood from all over like hairy crabs from Hokkaido. Ignore the name: They're fantastic. -- ML

Kin Chan

Honolulu, Hawaii
The wealth of quality seafood in Hawaii is overwhelming, and in Honolulu the allure of modernist, fancy places serving sashimi often serves as smoke and mirrors hiding pricy mediocrity. Kin Chan ditches all frills, and its no-bullshit approach to incredible, fresh, expertly prepared sushi makes it the hole-in-the-wall choice for many a local who knows that true quality is assessed purely on what’s atop that sushi rice. The 12-seater is simple, with bamboo art, glowing sake bottles, and a scant three people working the scene. The Kin Chan special will net you an emperor’s share of seasonally appropriate sushi and sashimi, with Japanese river real, otoro tuna belly, and king crab standouts of the simple, exquisite roster. The room populated with returning locals is the first evidence that you’re in great, skilled hands here. -- AK

Maneki

Seattle, Washington
At 113 years old, Maneki’s got stories -- fun fact: in the 1930s, one of Maneki’s dishwashers was Takeo Miki, who later served as Japan’s prime minister -- but so does everybody who enters. This is a place where memories have been forged over great sushi for generations, a legend for longevity, sure, but also because of the extremely high quality that has remained a hallmark for more than a century. Affordable sushi is blanketed in unexpectedly large and impossibly flavorful fish, while drinks are poured with a side of sass by octogenarian Mom, herself a legend with a half a century behind the bar. You’re in Seattle, so make sure to get salmon two ways: in nigiri form, and as the lightly breaded legend known as nankin. -- AK

Masa

New York, New York
Masa Takayama's renowned restaurant made big news last year when it raised prices to accommodate the complete elimination of tipping, adding to what was already one of the country's most expensive meals. Yes, $595 a person before considering tax, alcohol, and possible supplements like Ohmi beef and white truffle ice cream, is out of the realistic range for many diners even on the most special of special occasions. That said, when you're roundly considered one of the world's finest practitioners of your craft and you've been one of the handful of NYC restaurants to be bestowed three Michelin stars for nearly a decade, the demand is likely to continually meet your price. -- ML

Masu Sushi & Robata

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Usually, when a landlocked (OK, lakelocked) restaurant specializes in a wide variety of styles, it's a red flag. Not at Masu, where everything from sushi to robata, noodles, and izakaya drinking hit the mark in a space that’s half traditional izakaya, half otaku-themed neo-futuristic bar, Masu offers up a wide array of traditional sushi along with an assortment of makizushi, a cool name for rolls that here include everything from less-prominent than rolls to classics and “inside out” rolls like the Nordeast, which crams two types of tuna amid a delicious cacophony of jalapeños and squash. Don’t sleep on the robot here, either: The grilled skewers make for a hell of a Japanese surf & turf experience. -- AK

Miyake

Portland, Maine
Masa Miyake has spent more than a decade presiding over the premier Japanese restaurant in the East Coast's favorite Portland, establishing it as a destination that could hold its own in many markets more densely populated with sushi standouts. Yes, a lobster roll has a slightly different construction here, perfumed with truffle oil and wrapped with spicy mayo in black sesame soy paper. For those who don't want to go full omakase, there's a malleable four-course tasting menu showcasing many items from Miyake's own personal farm. -- ML

Mizumi 

Las Vegas, Nevada
If Kame's off-the-Strip, speakeasy-style vibe cuts a bit against the stereotypical Vegas flash and opulence, Mizumi represents the polar opposite. If enjoying your meal next to a koi pond surrounded by a lush Japanese garden as your gaze travels upward to a 90-foot waterfall better represents the Vegas sushi experience you had in mind, Mizumi is your spot. Of course, there's plenty of substance behind all the style (think yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño gelee and cilantro oil), though depending on your appetite, you might want to get on a blackjack hot streak at the Wynn before you sit down to dinner. -- ML

Morimoto

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Iron Chef who gives this ultra-modern, day-glo, Tokyo-in-the-US joint its name (no, dummy, it’s not Bobby Flay) may seldom wield the knives behind Philly’s best sushi joint these days, but he looms large over every single slice of expertly cut sashimi. From the standout toro to yellowtail tartare, Morimoto packs more species of delicious fish than Finding Dory. As is typically the case, omakase is key here, and chefs will deliver course after course of big hits immaculately plated. Unlike most super-fancy joints with a world-famous owner, though, that chef’s choice option won’t put a massive crater in your wallet. Pair it with a huge array or sake, or the profoundly delicious yuzu julep. -- AK

Mori Sushi

Los Angeles, California
You know what you should get at Mori, arguably the finest and most revered traditional sushi joint in the nigiri-rich City of Angels? Whatever the hell they tell you. The house that Morihiro Onodera built (he’s there now but in spirit, having retired) is omakase-only and designed around the Japanese-caught fish and farmers market-sourced ingredients available. There might not be a better place to drop $150+ on a dinner in Los Angeles. Each slice of fish will be treated with tender love and attention, each grain of rice obsessed over by perfectionists who also make the tofu and soy sauce in house. This is sushi as a luxury, and when the chefs care so deeply about your experience that it’s best to let them do their beautiful thing. -- AK

Morio's Sushi Bistro

Honolulu, Hawaii
Morio's may not offer the most refined presentations or rigidly precise execution among the restaurants on this list, but there's a reason it's consistently booked up months in advance. Morio's legendarily gregarious chef and proprietor presides over a sort of BYOB-fueled sushi party where he's just as likely to do a shot of sake with a guest as he is wow them with some incredibly prepared hamachi collar or delightfully fresh uni. The fact that he's able to seamlessly pull off both feats is what makes Morio's one of the singular sushi outposts in the country and a favorite among Hawaiians looking for an unpretentious and well-priced omakase experience. -- ML

Nodoguro

Portland, Oregon
Of course in Portland some of the best sushi from a popup turned brick-and-mortar supper club run by the awesomely named Ryan Roadhouse who specializes in “hardcore” 13-21 course tasting menus, with the occasional Hardcore Sushi seating popping up and selling out occasionally. So, what does that mean? It’s hard to say, since Roadhouse and crew design the menu 48 hours before the meal after scouring the best markets in the area for ingredients. The only certainty in this "for adventurous eaters only" approach to culinary improv? There will be seafood. Probably some meat. And at the end, the most unexpected sushi preparations you've ever seen will roll out in an intimate, wildly entertaining, singular experience. Provided you jump on tickets immediately, of course. Which is to say, set a Google alert. -- AK

Omakase

San Francisco, California
As if you haven't encountered the word "omakase" enough so far in this piece, here's a restaurant that put it right in the name! But while the moniker may not exhibit the height of creativity, there's no shortage of energy in chef Jackson Yu's skills, on display in two different omakase menus available each night at slightly different price points at the unassuming 14-seat sushi counter the channels the hidden, no-frills sushi standouts prevalent in Japan, which also serves as the source for much of fish on the Michelin-starred menu. -- ML

O Ya

Boston, Massachusetts
It's been nearly a decade since The New York Times' Frank Bruni declared Tim Cushman's O Ya the best new restaurant in America, and while the "new" label no longer applies, it remains a singular destination. Cushman famously took an unconventional path to sushi stardom, with a culinary career that started as a means of supporting musical aspirations and eventually led to a stint traveling to different parts of the world (including Japan, clearly) as a restaurant consultant. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, if you have the means, the omakase is so choice, but (paraphrasing done) many signature items like the beloved foie gras nigiri are also available a la carte. -- ML

Sushi Kashiba
sushi nakazawa
sushi ota
sushi ran
sushi taro
toni's sushi bar
uchi

Q Sushi

Los Angeles, California
Chef Hiroyuki Naruke isn’t just the star of Q Sushi, he’s its entire reason for being: long story short, dude spent nearly three decades as a superstar itamae before a group of sushi-obsessed LA lawyers goaded him to the California. He accepted, and since 2013 he’s been elevating the already great scene one omakase seating at a time. About that omakase: it’s a steep buy-in at $165-$250, but once the plates start flying, you’ll end up plowing through 20 artfully crafted, insanely fresh (except for the cured stuff, of course) nigiri and sashimi with each component pored over by the master. On balance, it’s a small price to pay for a meal that will stick in your memories forever. --AK

Sushi Taro

Washington, DC
When attempting to navigate the DC sushi scene, it's generally a safe bet to opt for the place that's consistently a favorite among Japanese embassy workers and visiting diplomats. Sushi Taro specializes and kaiseki, with multiple seasonally inspired options at different price points on offer at any given time. There's also a special chef-guided omakase where diners can direct their own experiences based on preferences. All that said, Sushi Taro isn't solely for special occasions -- their happy hour is legendary for people looking for an economical way to enjoy some serious sushi and a few Japanese beers. -- ML

 

 

 





Oleg Nikitenko
Oleg Nikitenko

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