From Hawaii to Miami, the Nine Best Sushi Restaurants in the US
(Bloomberg) – When the first notable sushi stand opened in what is now Tokyo in the 1820s, the dish epitomized casual, inexpensive street food.
Since then, sushi has become a staple in malls and airports worldwide. According to market research firm IbisWorld, there are an estimated 16,000 sushi restaurants in the United States, a number that has grown an average of 3.6% each year since 2017.
Sushi is also the most coveted reservation in cities across the country — and for good reason. Elite chefs are committed to mastering the art of serving raw and cured seafood to the highest standard and in a range of styles. Some, like Yohei Matsuki at Sushi Ginza Onodera in Los Angeles, adhere to a traditional style of sushi preparation known as edomae, which favors seafood from across Japan, particularly Tokyo Bay. Meanwhile, Chef Nozomu Abe of Sushi Noz in New York is licensed to import seafood directly from markets in Japan, rather than using middlemen. As a result, its menu is filled with fish that you can’t find anywhere else in the Big Apple.
Each of the following sushi masters goes to great lengths to source premium seafood along with other coveted ingredients like fresh wasabi root and tart sudachi citrus from markets in Japan. All are exquisite artisans, personally preparing dishes for a handful of customers behind a counter.
Here are the nine US bars for the best sushi experience you’ll find outside of Japan.
Sushi Noz, New York
Since it debuted on the Upper East Side four years ago, Sushi Noz has grown to be the best sushi place in town. What sets this two-counter spot apart from other local haunts is that chef-owner Abe gets seafood direct from Tokyo’s Toyosu Market and Kyushu’s Nagahama Fish Market five times a week. No wonder the $495 omakase menu changes daily. Abe offers such hyper-seasonal offerings as salty sea cockle and sweet mako flounder, along with a few signature bites like hay-smoked bonito sashimi and anago (eel) nigiri coated in a 13-year-old tare (“mother”) sauce.
Ica, New York
The eight-seat Icca quietly opened in Tribeca in October 2021, helmed by Kazushige Suzuki, former chef of Ginza Onodera. The chef has earned kudos for signature bites like creamy, umami-rich abalone liver nigiri. The $400 menu relies heavily on small appetizers, including a chilled corn chowder with Hokkaido horsehair crab, before moving on to 12 nigiri bites. The chef unconventionally adds Italian influences to his Edomae menu; there’s even a pasta course — like silky capellini with hairy crab — that fits seamlessly into the menu.
Sushi Ginza Onodera, Los Angeles
In a city praised for its high-quality sushi shops, Ginza Onodera — one of three US outposts for the Tokyo-based brand — stands out as one of LA’s top experiences. Chef Matsuki oversees the 10-seat West Hollywood eatery and offers a 20-course omakase menu based on Toyosu Market seafood; His menu itinerary varies depending on the best fish of the day. Snacks include the signature, ethereally creamy monkfish liver simmered in red wine with about a dozen nigiri bites like seasonal baby gizzard shad and sweet, plump Hokkaido uni. Homemade miso soup is made with three types of fermented paste; Desserts are more inspired than most sushi spots, with options like panna cotta-like pudding flavored with green tea.
Sushi Sho, Honolulu
Before moving to Honolulu, Keiji Nakazawa was one of Japan’s most respected sushi masters in his original sushi sho. Six years ago, he took over an elegant 10-seat cypress counter at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Waikiki and began adding Hawaiian accents to his plates, many of them featuring locally sourced seafood. Nakazawa features dishes like taro-wrapped opah cheeks (his take on the local pork dish, lau lau), anoints toro tuna with the sweetest Maui onions, and substitutes pickled bamboo shoots for ginger. Sho’s lengthy, non-traditional $300 omakase mixes small appetizers with nigiri during the meal. A sign of Nakazawa’s attention to detail, he prepares two batches of seasoned rice for various seafood concoctions, one flavored with white vinegar and a more intense version with red vinegar.
Sushi Yoshizumi, San Mateo, California.
There is no sign outside of Sushi Yoshizumi. Insiders know where the no-frills, eight-seat jukusei (aged) sushi counter is headed by eponymous owner Akira Yoshizumi. The chef, who charges $295 for this roughly 21-course omakase, ages his wild-caught seafood to intensify the flavor of the fish. He rests white fish for about four days and waits about two weeks before serving mature yellowtail, which makes the fish more tender. He offers bites like hay-smoked bonito sashimi before moving on to 11 nigiri bites, which currently include abalone and sweet-pickled gizzard shad.
Sushi Kashiba, Seattle
To secure one of the 12 seats at Sushi Kashiba, you must be willing to wait. Owner Shiro Kashiba trained under the legendary Jiro Ono from the cult film Jiro Dreams of Sushi and does not take reservations. The unassuming restaurant opened seven years ago and its $160 omakase features seafood from the Pacific Northwest waters, including Copper River butter salmon and bitingly fresh shrimp and matsutake mushrooms. Another dish you’ll find on Kashiba’s menu is black cod marinated in sake trub, which the chef created at Nikko, his original Seattle restaurant in the 1980s.
Morihiro, Los Angeles
Chef Mori Onodera, a leading figure in LA’s sushi scene, oversees an upscale space featuring a $400, 30-course omakase punctuated with California produce and subtle Italian touches. Toro tartare laced with olive oil is topped with pine nuts and caviar; Nigiri might include such little-known options as grunt, a bland, flaky fish similar in flavor to delicate and sweet-tasting snapper. For more seasoned enthusiasts, Morihiro is known for serving up the pink, spiky Japanese delicacy sea pineapple, which has an intense, unique salty flavor.
You’ll need a secret passcode to get into Hiden, chef Shingo Akikuni and restaurateur Edo Lopez’s discreet, impossible-to-book sushi counter tucked away in a humble Wynwood taco shop. Since its launch four years ago, Hiden has been serving 14-course Japanese and American seafood-based omakas. Starters include an oyster dressed with peach and cucumber mignonettes. A mix of nigiri – both traditional and accented with luxe ingredients – ranges from lean, translucent icefish and silver-skinned gizzard shad to binchtan-grilled anago topped with ossetra caviar; The saltwater eel is cooked so perfectly it melts in your mouth.
Sushi Taro, Washington
One of America’s pioneering Japanese restaurants, Sushi Toro has thrived for nearly four decades. Owner Nobu Yamazaki and Executive Chef Masaya Kitayama weave principles of kaiseki cuisine (Japan’s elite seasonal tasting menu) into their $250 10-course omakase menu, served at a counter that seats six. A meal can begin with crystal clear conger eel soup and seasonal sashimi, followed by wagyu shabu shabu and nigiri of the guest’s choice, including silver white and ivory king salmon. This is one of the few very authentic menus in America that has a touch of washoku – traditional Japanese cuisine.
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