It’s hard not to associate the word Japan to sushi and even in those fleeting moments where the land of the rising sun is mentioned, you’d probably think of a glorious slab of seafood on vinegared rice dipped in sauce and a hint of wasabi. Like ramen, sushi is one of the classic dishes you shouldn’t miss when you’re visiting and traveling Japan especially Tokyo. It may be small, perfectly fits in the palm of your hand but it’s packed with great flavors that would go swimming in your mouth. After all, most great things come in small packages (or servings). But what’s so great about sushi and what sets it apart from other classic Japanese dishes? Let’s take a walk and look for the best sushi in Tokyo.
Tip: Read up on Tokyo's homegrown "Edomae sushi".
The thing about sushi is that it’s pretty much easy to eat. It may sound fancy and quite a bit strange but you can have sushi for breakfast. You can have it for lunch, dinner, and if your stomach is growling in the middle of the night, you bet you can munch on this bunch of surprises for a midnight snack. An iconic dish, it may come in many forms but is essentially a combination of vinegared rice and seafood, sometimes other ingredients such as nori (seaweed). In recent years, sushi has been developing different flavors and methods, making it accessible to other people.
Some fear the idea of eating raw food that’s why the art of making sushi opened its way to boiling or roasting ingredients such as tofu, vegetables, and even wagyu beef. Because of this, the search for the best sushi in Tokyo has been on-going ever since. The different types of sushi are also something to be excited about because it gives variety to taste, size, and flavor. You can always take the classic nigiri-sushi and eat it on its own but if you like it fancy, there’s the maki-sushi, oshi-sushi, and gunkan-maki to name a few. And what’s also amazing about sushi is that you can find it almost everywhere. In a convenience store, high-end restaurants, and hole-in-the-wall stalls in the streets. You can even make it at home! It’s actually up to you whether the one in your hands (or chopsticks, for that matter) is the best sushi but nevertheless, every sushi has a story and flavor to introduce to its guests.
Best Sushi in Tokyo
Sushi is now available for the world to consume and eat but if you can, try the real deliciousness of sushi in Tokyo. Because it’s a dining experience, most sushi dishes don’t come cheap and it’s almost a struggle to find a restaurant which has a table open for you but it’s all going to be worth it. A trip to Tokyo isn’t complete without devouring a serving or two of sushi and if you’re looking for the best sushi in Tokyo, a list below will help you get started. Be reminded that some of them don’t accept walk-in customers so it’s highly advisable for you to call ahead of time to make reservations.
Here are some of the top sushi restaurants in Tokyo!
- Sushi Dai
- Sushi Saito
- Sushi Zanmai
- Sukibayashi Jiro
1. Sushi Dai
Located just a few steps away from the famous Tsukiji Market, Sushi Dai is famous for its breakfast sushi. Cancel all your morning meetings if you find yourself craving for some Sushi Dai breakfast sushi because it’s going to take you more than an hour to get yourself seated and munch on these sushi dishes. But it’s all going to be worth it. Imagine looking at the freshest ingredients laid out for you to witness. Some of these freshly-caught seafood ingredients are still moving so you know what you’re getting at is only the best of the best. But what’s really great about Sushi Dai is that everything comes at reasonable prices so you know that you’re not leaving with burned pockets. You can have the sushi per piece but also in special courses.
Known as the highest rated sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Saito will probably take you months before you secure a reservation to them but this critically acclaimed restaurant is something you wouldn’t want to miss. They make sure that you’re only getting the best that’s why even a typical serving of sardines will come out exquisite and glorious once it’s on your table. They don’t scrimp on their ingredients and don’t come off as cheap but it’s worth every penny. The best-selling one in the restaurant in their lunch course. Seasoned perfectly with the right tenderness of the seafood and the authenticity of high-quality vinegared rice, it’s no wonder that it’s almost everyone’s favorite sushi restaurant.
Fukuzushi is a family-owned business which has been in the industry for more than 40 years. Unlike most sushi restaurants which have limited seatings, Fukuzushi offers a spacious place that can accommodate big groups of people. It even has a bar and lounge area and if you’re interested, you can book meetings and special occasions in the restaurant. They offer a wide range of sushi dishes on the menu but they’re particularly popular with nigiri-sushi which are perfectly seasoned with the right amount of soy sauce and wasabi. Every little thing is paid with great attention and they give an excellent service to everyone. It also doesn’t hurt that they price their sushi slight lower than other sushi restaurants in the city.
Hashiguchi may be a low-key but it’s actually one of the best-kept sushi restaurants in the city. One of the most magical things you can witness in Hashiguchi is how Chef Hashiguchi can make you sushi dance. Yes, dance. It may sound bizarre to you but Chef Hashiguchi uses a certain method that puts pressure on the sushi, making it look like its dancing right before your eyes. Aside from that, the restaurant also offers a diverse selection of dishes on their menu. A gentle reminder as well that taking photos in the restaurant is banned.
5. Sushi Zanmai
If you’re on a budget but still want to have that culinary experience of getting your hands to the best sushi in Tokyo, Sushi Zanmai is the one for you. This conveyor-belt sushi restaurant is great for those who are eating sushi for the first time. While the quality of service and food may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Sushi Zanmai guarantees that you’re getting quality meals at the best price. They offer different types of sushi dishes in here and nigiri lunch sets which include a small bowl of miso soup and salad. They also have maguro zanmai, which offers different types of tuna sushi. This is the perfect place to get your dose of delicious sushi at your best price.
6. Sukibayashi Jiro
Sukibayashi Jiro is a famous sushi restaurant with 3 Michelin stars which offers Edo-style sushi. They only offer one thing on the menu and it’s the delicious omakase tasting menu which consists of 20 pieces of beautifully arranged sushi pieces. Time is gold here at Sukibayashi Jiro because they only prepare the dishes by the time the guests arrive so as to assure the freshness of the ingredients. The restaurant doesn’t serve sake because the owner, Jiro Ono, believes that green tea is the best drink to have after a meal of sushi. This is to cleanse the palate. Reservation is a must but this is definitely a restaurant worth visiting.
Though the restaurant remains booked all-year round and was known to be the hardest to place a reservation with, Sugita remains one of the best sushi restaurants in Tokyo. Chef Takaagi Sugita makes sure you’re not just having the best sushi but also the best time of your life. Everything he prepares has a touch of his magic and he turns a simple serving of seafood into a magnificent creation. Delectable dishes such as iwashi roll (sardine roll), shima ebi, and his famous kinmedai nigiri are one of the few items on the menu that will definitely keep you coming back for more. They are best paired with a serving of sake. Sugita is definitely a restaurant you need to visit.
Another place notorious for its hard to place a reservation, Mitani is not only known for its exquisite sushi dishes but also with its wine and sake pairings. There are various toppings you can choose from and one of the few popular are akami (lean tuna) and iwashi (sardine). Chef Mitani’s signature style of preparing and serving his delicious sushi is to serve it directly on your palm. This may sound strange but it actually helps to preserve the airiness and temperature of the rice. It must be consumed immediately. Other dishes such as uni (sea urchin) in dashi and multilayered omelet are available.