The 35 Best Sushi Bars in America 2015

These sushi bars and sushi-centric restaurants serve the nation's best examples of this celebrated Japanese delicacy
Makoto

The 35 Best Sushi Bars in America

The 35 Best Sushi Bars in America

Ravi Bangaroo

It wasn’t so long ago that sushi was still considered an exotic delicacy by many, one too strange and outside-the-box to pay much attention to. The seemingly simple pairing of raw fish and rice was the domain of the adventurous and the very rich, the ones who were looking to impress. Today, however, there are sushi restaurants across America of just about every stripe, from holes-in-the-wall turning out decent California rolls and tuna sashimi to sprawling emporiums run by internationally renowned chefs, from cozy neighborhood favorites to upscale counters that might as well be temples to fish and rice. There are some amazing sushi restaurants in America, and this is our second annual ranking of the nation's 35 best — from a restaurant in Los Angeles where a 30-course omakase (chef's choice) menu costs $395 (and one in New York City where the bill rises to $450) to a counter tucked away inside a bustling Japanese market in Miami.

#35 Hide Sushi, Los Angeles

#35 Hide Sushi, Los Angeles

Photo Modified: Flickr / Alpha  / CC BY-SA 4.0

Simple, casual, and straightforward, Hide Sushi has been serving high-quality sushi to hungry Angelenos since 1979. You won’t find any rainbow rolls or tempura rolls at this no-reservations, cash-only spot; only fresh, high-quality fish is available, along with some harder-to-find delicacies like sweet raw shrimp (amaebi), jellyfish (kurage), and sea eel (anago). 

#34 Sansei, Multiple Locations, Hawaii

#34 Sansei, Multiple Locations, Hawaii

Photo Modified: Flickr / Digital Media Northwest / CC BY 4.0

The first location of Sansei opened in 1996 at Kapalua Resort on Maui, with locations in Kihei, Waikiki Beach, and the Waikoloa Beach Resort following shortly thereafter. Opening multiple locations of a stellar seafood restaurant is no easy feat, especially in a market as renowned for its seafood as Hawaii, but founder D.K. Kodama makes it look easy. Specialty rolls including the panko-crusted ahi roll and the Kapalaua Butterfly Roll (with salmon, crab, white fish, and fresh vegetables) are popular menu items at these casual restaurants, and à la carte sushi options like anago (sea eel), amaebi (sweet shrimp), yaki hotegai (baked sweet scallops) are the real deal. There’s an option to top any nigari sushi or sashimi with quail egg for $1.75; Take them up on the offer. 

#33 Japanese Market, North Bay Village, Fla.

#33 Japanese Market, North Bay Village, Fla.

Photo Modified: Flickr / IQRemix  / CC BY-SA 4.0

An unassuming storefront located on a tiny island in Miami’s Biscayne Bay called North Bay Village may be the last place you’d expect to find life-altering sushi, but tucked away in a corner of a Japanese market called — what else? — Japanese Market is a small counter serving just that. A certifiable hidden gem, the counter (unofficially called Sushi Deli) is run by a husband and wife duo who are preparing sushi (as well as Japanese dishes like curry and teriyaki) that would be right at home at any of the city’s high-end (and far more expensive) sushi spots. Order the omakase and you’ll be treated to any number of insanely fresh fruits of the sea, including conch, toro, uni, raw scallop, raw shrimp, and salmon tartare with raw quail egg. Also order a tempura-fried sweet shrimp head if you’re feeling adventurous. Just make sure you get there during the day, because they’re only open until 5:45 p.m. every day. Seriously, this place is a find

#32 Arami, Chicago

#32 Arami, Chicago

Arami / Facebook

This stylish and contemporary Ukrainian Village spot showcases the culinary stylings of South Korean-born chef Frederick Despres, who previously worked under renowned chef Takashi Yagihashi (whose now-closed Tribute in suburban Detroit was considered one of America's best restaurants). His dishes range from the traditional to completely outside the box and everywhere in-between, always with an emphasis on what’s fresh and in season. One appetizer showcases five Japanese mushrooms, while another combines minced toro with Asian pear, chive, caviar, and house special soy sauce. There’s also a robata selection, as well as noodles and donburi. We suggest opting for the chef’s choice sashimi, but the chef’s skills are also evident in such special maki as zuke sake madai (marinated salmon, sea bream, takuan, ginger tare [soy basting sauce], and radish), and spicy tako ebi (spicy octopus, green pepper, shrimp, wasabi mayo, and tobiko). 

#31 Sushi Paradise, Kihei, Hawaii

#31 Sushi Paradise, Kihei, Hawaii

Yelp / Linda L

This cozy and charming dinner-only sushi spot, tucked away inside a strip mall, is one of those locals-only gems. While you’ll definitely have to wait for a table or a spot at the sushi bar, you’ll be amply rewarded for your patience. It’s a three-person operation; chef Watanabe is behind the sushi counter, his charming wife waits the tables, and one other employee is in the kitchen, and chef Watanabe’s creations are masterful. His sushi is generously sliced and served in huge portions for a great value, and even the spicy tuna gets more attention than most sushi spots bestow on their most prized specimens.

#30 Sakedokoro Makoto, Washington, D.C.

#30 Sakedokoro Makoto, Washington, D.C.

Photo Modified: Flickr / SteFou! / CC BY 4.0

In the quiet of the Palisades just two miles up MacArthur Boulevard from Georgetown University, Sakedokoro Makoto has the power to transport you away from the nation’s capital and halfway around the world to Japan. The change in culture is immediate as soon as you step in and down off the street and into this D.C. stalwart that has been delighting sushi lovers since 1992. You’re forced (in a good way), by the business casual dress code and the request not to use a cellphone or wear strong perfumes and colognes, to consciously engage in a calmer mindset. Take off your shoes and settle into your wooden bench in an intimate, traditional setting that fits just two dozen people. You’ll be quickly taken into the care of graceful and efficient female servers whose service possesses a touch light enough to make you feel as if you’re being looked after in a traditional Kyoto ryokan. It’s important to note that while you’ll find expertly crafted sushi on the à la carte lunch menu and as part of the evening omakase, Makoto isn’t a sushi bar per se, but rather a place to enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine. Soft-shell crabs, small nests of noodles, grilled fish — these will all round out your sushi experience, while jazz softly lilts in the background.

#29 Bamboo Sushi, Portland, Ore.

#29 Bamboo Sushi, Portland, Ore.

Bambook Sushi / Facebook

Bamboo Sushi is the first sushi restaurant in America — there are three locations in Portland — to be Certified Green by the Green Restaurant Association. To keep its coveted “sustainable” title, the restaurant brings in the freshest seafood available, paying close attention to marine stewardship, sustainability, and the environment. To that end, it partners with the Marine Stewardship Council, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Blue Ocean Institute, Salmon Nation, KidSafe Seafood, and the GRA.

The end result is seriously delicious, super-fresh seafood. Order the $100 tasting menu for two and you’ll be treated to dishes like the House on Fire Mackerel (grilled mackerel drizzled in red chile oil, topped with pickled mustard caviar and seasoned with lemon charcoal and alder wood smoke), or opt for the à la carte nigiri or sashimi menu and enjoy house-smoked wild ivory salmon, pole-caught Korean anago (sea eel), or Filipino and Hawaiian tuna with a clear conscience.

#28 Zuma, Miami

#28 Zuma, Miami

Zuma Miami – Official / Facebook

Hip and modern in design, Zuma is chef and restaurateur Rainer Becker’s izakaya-style restaurant chain that was inspired by the six years he spent learning about Japanese food and cuisine in Tokyo. The first restaurant opened in 2002 in London and was followed by additional locations in Hong Kong, Istanbul, and Dubai before opening its first American location in Miami in the Epic Hotel. With its huge space and flashy décor, Zuma looks expensive and has a bit of a reputation for being a “scene,” but that doesn’t mean you’ll be disappointed by the food, though this is one of the sushi restaurants on this list that you will be able to find California maki, wasabi, mayo, and spicy tuna rolls with green chili sauce. A second U.S. location recently opened in New York, and a national expansion is in the works.

#27 Tomo, Atlanta

#27 Tomo, Atlanta

Tomo Japanese Restaurant / Facebook

Tomo is the brainchild of Tokyo-born Tomo Naito, who honed his eye for quality whole working as a seafood buyer and his sushi skills at the omakase station at Las Vegas’ Nobu, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place for sushi in Atlanta. The room is sleek, as befits its location in ritzy Buckhead, and the skills of Naito are on full display, not only in the quality of the fish but in the creative ingenuity behind his dishes, like usuzukuri, thinly sliced fluke dotted with hot sauce and ponzu jelly.

#26 Arigato, Santa Barbara, Calif.

#26 Arigato, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Yelp / Eric T

The most popular sushi restaurant in Santa Barbara is also the most innovative. Appetizers include oyster or sea urchin with quail egg “shots,” sake-steamed asari clam with garlic butter and shiso, a baked half avocado stuffed with fresh water eel and crab, and shiso-wrapped uni tempura, but the real magic is happening on the vast sushi and sashimi menu. À la carte nigiri options include rare finds like Hokki clam, jellyfish, monkfish liver, tiny octopus, sea bream, and sweet kelp; and nigiri specialties include seared beef with truffle soy marinade and horseradish sauce, bluefin tuna with grated ginger and yuzu garlic oil, and smoked salmon with red onion, caper, dill, and gorgonzola sauce. There’s some serious creativity going on here. 

#25 Sushi Sasabune, Honolulu

#25 Sushi Sasabune, Honolulu

Photo Modified: Flickr / John / CC BY-SA 4.0

A no-frills restaurant that some might even call “divey” also happens to serve the best sushi in Hawaii. Take a seat at the counter and let chef Seiji Kumagawa be your guide through your choice of two omakase menus, one “Japanese” and one “Western.” Opt for the Western menu and you’ll be treated to items like bluefin tuna in ponzu or salmon with kelp and sesame; the Japanese menu will bring you a more exotic assortment like snapper with fermented squid and clam that’s been slapped to “wake up” the muscle. Either way, you’re in for a 13-course treat. 

#24 Shuko, New York City

#24 Shuko, New York City

Shuko NYC / Facebook

Two former protégés of sushi master Masa Takayama opened Shuko near Union Square last November after moving on from their first solo project, Neta, and by now Shuko has been firmly established as the best Japanese restaurant to open in the city in the past year. What started as a Hamptons summer pop-up quickly earned four stars from New York Magazine and three stars from the New York Times,  in which Pete Wells says that owners Nick Kim and Jimmy Lau “have taken all the preciousness out of omakase and kaiseki dining and replaced it with a relaxed, sophisticated cool.” 

At the 20-seat sushi counter, guests are treated to either a $135 sushi tasting or a $175 kaiseki (made up of both sushi and prepared dishes), and the possibilities of what you might be served are almost infinite, ranging from baby uni with shrimp and caviar to a truffle-wrapped sushi roll, grilled toro sinew wrapped in toasted seaweed, cod sperm with white truffle, or squab cartilage with sancho pepper, with a slice of apple pie for dessert (seriously). We suggest you throw caution to the wind and let Kim and Lau be your guides on one of the most exciting culinary journeys you’re likely to encounter for a while. 

#23 Kabuto, Las Vegas

#23 Kabuto, Las Vegas

Photo Modified: Flickr / T.Tseng / CC BY 4.0

This perfect date spot prides itself on providing the best Edomae-style sushi experience possible, a style native to Tokyo where the sushi chef prepares nigiri sushi one piece at a time, placed in front of the diner and eaten immediately. No maki rolls here, folks. The menu is about as simple as it gets, with three different price tiers, ranging from $48 (an absolute steal) to $120. The restaurant’s goal is to highlight the freshest fish available (much of which is imported from Japan), sliced and served atop a small mound of vinegared rice, paired with sake. It’ll strike you as being similar to other sushi bars you’ve been to, yet somehow unique at the same time.  

#22 Uchi, Austin

#22 Uchi, Austin

Uchi Austin

For years, we bought the myth that sushi was an inviolable tradition, understood only by the Japanese and impervious to modernization. Then Nobu Matsuhisa came along to disprove the latter — and American chefs like Tim Cushman at O Ya in Boston (see #3) and Tyson Cole at Uchi and Uchiko in Austin tossed both notions out like empty sake bottles. There's no telling what classicists would make of Cole's bigeye tuna with goat cheese, Fuji apple, and pumpkin seed oil; tempura shrimp spring roll with Vietnamese fish sauce and grapes; or pork jowl with Brussels sprout kimchee, romaine, preserved lemon, and crème fraîche; but the hungry Austinites who crowd this rustic house-turned-restaurant obviously eat it all up.

#21 Akiko’s, San Francisco

#21 Akiko’s, San Francisco

A sleek and stylish sushi bar run by two generations of the Lee family over the past 30 years, Akiko’s has been quietly serving some of the finest sushi anywhere, with fish shipments arriving daily from purveyors including Japan’s renowned Tsujiki fish market. Rare and sustainable fish is favored to overfished stock, so expect to be served fish including black sea bream from Cyprus, black tuna or wild halibut from Japan, monkflsh liver from Boston, white tuna belly from Canada, or ocean trout from Australia. If you visit Akiko’s, put your meal in the chef’s hands and expect the unexpected. 

#20 Sushi of Gari, New York City

#20 Sushi of Gari, New York City

Yelp / Farhana S

Masatoshi “Gari” Sugio became a sushi chef in Japan at age 19, and today he runs four Sushi of Gari restaurants in Manhattan. While they could have easily gone the route of pricey-if-unexceptional chains like Haru, instead they’re all upscale, elegant, and focused squarely on serving the highest-quality sushi possible. Start with flawless interpretations of sushi bar classics like steamed monkfish liver in ponzu, kabocha tempura, or beef tataki, and from there move on to chef’s choice sushi ($29–$49), sashimi ($36–$55), or, of course, the omakase, which certainly won’t let you down. 

#19 Ichimura at Brushstroke, New York City

#19 Ichimura at Brushstroke, New York City

Brushstroke Restaurant / Facebook

Chef David Bouley brought on sushi master Eiji Ichimura to open this tiny Tribeca gem back in 2011, and four years and four New York Times stars later it’s still one of the finest omakase spots in New York. Ichimura’s sushi is a descendant of the Edo-mae style (where fish is stored in salt or vinegar, or cured in soy sauce), and the flavors are stronger here, the vinegar in the rice more assertive. Want to try dry-aged tuna belly? This is the place. Sure, the omakase menu starts at $195 (up from $180 last year), but you won’t find a similar experience anywhere else in the city. 

#18 Matsuhisa, Los Angeles

#18 Matsuhisa, Los Angeles

Photo Modified: Flickr / kev-shine / CC BY 4.0

This modest bungalow on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills — once known as "Restaurant Row" — was international culinary celebrity Nobu Matsuhisa's first U.S. establishment, and the birthplace of his Nobu empire. Originally offering little more than sushi, sashimi, and some tempura choices, the menu has been reverse-engineered over the years to include a large selection of the kinds of dishes diners have come to expect from Nobu (tuna tataki with cilantro dressing, buckwheat soba risotto, the inevitable black cod with miso), but the straightforward sushi selection remains impeccable, if pricey. Don't miss the sweet shrimp sushi or the softshell crab roll.

#17 15 East, New York City

#17 15 East, New York City

15 East Restaurant / Facebook

Husband-and-wife restaurateurs Marco Moreira and Joann Makovitzky opened 15 East eight years ago a block away from New York City’s Union Square, and in the time since it has become one of New York City’s most esteemed spots for sushi. There’s a clean, open dining room with windows that look out on the street, but you’re going to want to sit at the counter, where executive chef Masato Shimizu oversees the action. Shimizu apprenticed with sushi master Rikio Kugo at Tokyo’s renowned Sukeroku for seven years before moving to New York and getting snapped up by Moreira and Makovitzky. You can order à la carte at 15 East, from a menu that features six types of white fish, eight kinds of silver fish, and at least four kinds, cuts, and different presentations of clams, tuna, hamachi, and octopus — but if you’re a sushi purist, you’ll only go omakase, where the chefs will select the best fish of the day according to your preference: sushi, sashimi, or both. 

#16 Asanebo, Los Angeles

#16 Asanebo, Los Angeles

Asanebo / Facebook

Since 1991, this cozy San Fernando Valley gem has been turning out some great sushi and homestyle Japanese delicacies, good enough to earn them a Michelin star in 2008 and 2009 (Michelin suspended their L.A. guide in 2010). The kappo-style menu is full of unique dishes like miso-marinated seared U.S. Kobe beef with peach compote, sea urchin tempura, and steamed red snapper head, but the sushi is the true standout: the wide variety ranges from sweet shrimp (amaebi) to halibut fin (engawa), and house signature dishes include halibut sashimi with fresh truffle, seafood ceviche, and sea urchin that’s been salt-cured, steamed, and chilled. 

#15 Makoto, Bal Harbour, Fla.

#15 Makoto, Bal Harbour, Fla.

Makoto

Since 2011, master sushi chef Makoto Okuwa has been serving some of the city’s best sushi at the Bal Harbour Shops in Miami Beach. The protégé of Masaharu Morimoto receives shipments from Japan three times per week, and while his sushi is flawless (don’t miss the wahoo, golden big eye snapper, or orange clam), it’s the signature dishes like the Kobe Air Bread (a seared slice of Kobe beef on a horseradish foam-filled cracker) and the Frosted Kobe Beef (frozen Kobe, onions, and sesame seeds, charred with a blowtorch) that really put it over the top. 

#14 Kiriko, Los Angeles

#14 Kiriko, Los Angeles

Kiriko Sushi Sawtelle Los Angeles / Facebook

This small Westside sushi bar is the best of both worlds: a place to experience stellar omakase and nigiri, and also a great local spot. Sashimi changes on a near-daily basis according to what’s fresh and in season; don’t be surprised if you come across a special offering five different types of salmon alongside rarer finds like barracuda (kamasu), wild striped jack (shimaaji), and Hokkaido scallop (hotate).

#13 Nobu, New York City

#13 Nobu, New York City

Photo Modified: Flickr / Alexis Lamster / CC BY 4.0

When chef Nobu Matsuhisa opened his eponymous restaurant along with pal Robert De Niro and restaurateur Drew Nieporent in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood in 1994, there was no way he could have imagined that 21 years later he’d be running 32 affiliated restaurants around the world; including eight Nobu-branded hotels with one more on the way. But there’s a reason why Nobu has become a household name across the globe, and a visit to the Michelin-starred New York flagship (or one of the two in Las Vegas (See #6) tells you all you need to know. The design by architect David Rockwell evokes the Japanese countryside while conveying excitement and energy, and the cuisine fuses classical Japanese with that of Peru and Argentina, where Nobu trained. The standout dishes; including yellowtail with jalapeno, lobster with wasabi pepper sauce, and black cod with miso, are nothing short of legendary. Nobu will be moving out of its longtime Tribeca location sometime before 2017 and re-open in the Financial District, but we’re sure the end result will be spectacular as usual. 

#12 Katsu, Chicago

#12 Katsu, Chicago

Nick Murway

This small, homey restaurant in an unassuming West Rogers Park building serves the best sushi in Chicago, and it’s so beloved by the locals that it bested Alinea to claim the #1 spot for “Best Food in Chicago” in 2013’s Zagat guide. Chef Katsu Imamura and his wife Haruko run the restaurant with friendly professionalism, and only the freshest fish available is served, sliced in slightly more generous portions than you’ll find elsewhere and accented with a shiso leaf here, a dab of caviar there. Katsu isn’t a place to see and be seen, it’s a place to experience the work of a sushi master. 

#11 Mori, Los Angeles

#11 Mori, Los Angeles

Photo Modified: Flickr / T.Tseng / CC BY 4.0

Situated on a dark corner of Pico Boulevard amidst undistinguished low-rise businesses in West L.A.’s no-man’s land, Sushi Mori is an intimate oasis of blonde-wood minimalism where beautiful fish is served on ceramics handmade by founder Morihiro Onodera. Though Mori, who trained first in Tokyo and then in L.A. at Matsuhisa and in New York at Hatsuhana under Sushi Yasuda founder Naomichi Yasuda, sold the restaurant in 2011 to focus on making ceramics and growing artisanal sushi rice, it is now run by his protégé, Masanori Nagano, who has brilliantly maintained the founder’s blend of artistry (fresh figs with roe and radish), originality (smoked barracuda), and elegance. The omakase is not inexpensive, but it’s an experience you’ll savor, and likely want to repeat.

#10 Naoe, Miami

#10 Naoe, Miami

Photo Modified: Flickr / T.Tseng / CC BY 4.0

For sushi lovers, Naoe is a little slice of heaven in Miami. The sushi here would be right at home even at a high-end spot in Japan, and at this tiny, eight-seat temple to raw fish, you can let sushi master Kevin Cory, dubbed the "Omakase King," be your guide. The accolades for Naoe just keep piling up: Five stars from Forbes Travel Guide, named one of the country’s best sushi restaurants by Travel + Leisure, a nomination for best new chef from Food & Wine, and so on (Last month, chef Ferran Adrià even called it “one of the best Japanese restaurants that I have been to outside of Japan, in the world”). If you can snag a reservation (only 16 guests are served each night), you’ll be presented with a selection of some of the freshest seafood imaginable, from both Japanese and local waters. There’s horse mackerel topped with fresh wasabi, fresh-roasted and basted eel, urchin-topped egg tofu, cured squid, Scottish salmon belly… the selection goes on and on, and by the time your meal is through, you may never look at sushi the same way again.

#9 Oishii, Boston

#9 Oishii, Boston

Yelp / Vivian T

Boston isn’t a city that’s generally known for its sushi, but the fish at this South End gem is right up there with the country’s best. Chef Ting Yan opened the restaurant in 1998 with the intention of drawing on influences from his multicultural background and experience as a sushi master in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, and unexpected menu items include kaffir lime duck salad, handmade tofu, and foie gras-truffle sushi. While there’s a wide menu of expertly prepared appetizers, entrees, soups, and salads, the sushi selection is exceptional. Six types of salmon, 12 types of tuna, 10 types of shellfish… the variety alone is enough to make your jaw drop, and Yan knows exactly the right way to slice, treat, and garnish each fish. 

#8 Sushi Zen, New York

#8 Sushi Zen, New York

Photo Modified: Flickr / Omnitographer / CC BY 4.0

From décor and presentation to style and taste, everything at this decades-old Midtown West sushi restaurant is about harmony. Stepping in off the busy street just a block from Times Square, you immediately feel a calm only Japanese hospitality can provide. Allow yourself to be ushered to the 10-seat counter that doesn’t feature the sushi case ubiquitous to most sushi restaurants for an intimate and deliberate experience. There is no rush, the ingredients are high-quality, and the delivery and presentation are precise (you’ll be reminded that pieces come pre-seasoned with wasabi). That’s a good thing, given that Sushi Zen is one of the city’s few spots to serve fugu, the pufferfish delicacy that can be deadly if not prepared correctly. Chef Toshio Suzuki is a master whose omakase is always on-point, if a little on the expensive side. While a sushi omakase technically starts at $65, you’re likely to want extra pieces beyond that, at which point things can start adding up quickly. 

#7 Sushi Zo, Los Angeles

#7 Sushi Zo, Los Angeles

Yelp / Grace C

Once somewhat of a secret, chef Keizo Seki’s Sushi Zo, an unassuming gem located in a Westside Los Angeles strip mall, has branched out to a second and more contemporary high-profile downtown location (called just “Zo”). Seki is a no-nonsense sushi purist. Don’t expect California rolls, or laughing banter between bites of the precisely seasoned nigiri — the interactive experience is more temple than tempura. What you’ll get is course after course of fresh, expertly cut, beautifully presented sushi delivered quickly and in quiet moments, time enough to savor high quality. It’s no understatement to say this is some of the best sushi in the country, and if you believe world-famous chef Ferran Adrià, it’s even better than what you can find in Japan.

#6 Nobu, Las Vegas

#6 Nobu, Las Vegas

Nobu Las Vegas / Facebook

Nobu Matsuhisa is nothing short of a rock star in the sushi world, and a visit to one of his two Las Vegas restaurants (we recommend the one located in the newish Nobu Hotel inside Caesar’s Palace, but the original inside the Hard Rock Hotel is also spectacular) will immediately tell you why. These David Rockwell-designed Nobus are chic and hip, sure, places to see and be seen, but the ambiance never gets in the way of the food. You’ll find all the trademark Nobu dishes — black cod miso, rock shrimp tempura, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño — but there’s also an astounding sushi selection. Even though Matsuhisa himself is more renowned for his hot dishes, he’s brought on some of the best sushi chefs in the world and his creative ingenuity is on full display here. Be it abalone, Japanese red snapper, shad (kohada), or striped jack (shima aji), when it’s served at Nobu, it’s going to be good.  

#5 Sushi Nakazawa, New York City

#5 Sushi Nakazawa, New York City

Photo Modified: Flickr / Edsel Little / CC BY-SA 4.0

Those obsessed with sushi watched the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi with fascination and even a little bit of envy for the lucky diners sitting at the small bar in the tiny, three-Michelin-star restaurant tucked into a Tokyo subway station run by Jiro Ono, marveling at the many years his sons and apprentices took to master tasks like making rice and egg custard. A similar sense of marvel and fascination is now taking place in New York City at Sushi Nakazawa, the West Village restaurant opened by Jiro’s apprentice Daisuke Nakazawa in August of 2013 and promptly earned four stars from the New York Times. With its opening, America gained not just one of its best sushi restaurants, but one of its best restaurants period. Your two-hour meal at Sushi Nakazawa will feature about 21 pieces of sushi that Nakazawa prepares with dedication to tradition and ingredients.

“There are three things that we focus on at Sushi Nakazawa in order to create great sushi,” owner Alessandro Borgognone told us. “We consistently seek out the best ingredients available – fish and rice quality are equally important, and we use nothing that is short of amazing. Incredible technique is the next thing that comes into account, and Chef Nakazawa and his team are experts in their craft. Lastly, preparation requires impeccable attention to detail, and our team focuses on each and every step when making the sushi.”

#4 Urasawa, Los Angeles

#4 Urasawa, Los Angeles

Photo Modified: Flickr / Case Simmons / CC BY 4.0

This Japanese culinary shrine, with a sushi bar and just enough room for ten diners nightly, located in a shopping center off of Rodeo Drive, might be called the West Coast version of New York City's Masa. That's not surprising: Not only did Urasawa chef-owner Hiroyuki Urasawa train under Masa Takayama before opening his eponymous restaurant here, but the spot previously housed Takayama’s Ginza Sushi-ko, where Masa made his reputation. Urasawa has a nearly 30-course omakase menu that changes daily, not to be missed if you can afford to pay $395 for the privilege. 

#3 O-Ya, Boston and New York

#3 O-Ya, Boston and New York

Amy Braga

Chef Tim Cushman brings innovative sushi and related new-Japanese fare to his menu with imagination and flair, serving these and other truly wonderful dishes; accompanied by a large choice of excellent sake and wine, in an understated dining room whose simplicity belies the complexity of flavors on the plate. Cushman won the 2012 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast. You can expect to enjoy dishes like balsamic chocolate kabayaki, claudio corallo raisin cocoa pulp, sip of aged sake and warm eel with Thai basil, kabayaki, fresh kyoto sansho. And with the opening of a second location earlier this year in New York, Cushman has elevated Manhattan’s sushi game to new heights.  

#2 Sushi Yasuda, New York City

#2 Sushi Yasuda, New York City

Sushi Yasuda

It’s a special kind of restaurant that you can walk into, sit down, and without looking at a menu just say to the people preparing your food, "Yes, please," — and know that every bite is going to send you searching for new superlatives. For sushi lovers, that’s exactly what Yasuda and its minimalist dining room represents. To say the fish is fresh just doesn’t do the place justice — for many, experiencing the taste and texture of seafood at Yasuda will set the bar for what freshness means. The restaurant's namesake and founder, Naomichi Yasuda, decamped to return to Japan in 2010, but the standards he established here haven't faltered. His hand-picked successor, Mitsuru Tamura, keeps that Yasuda philosophy alive. Just don’t try to leave a tip

#1 Masa, New York City

#1 Masa, New York City

Masa / Facebook

Masa Takayama is undeniably a sushi master: calm, precise, insistent on the very finest raw materials, and the sushi and other dishes you may sample at his flagship in Manhattan's Time Warner Center will be truly memorable. Does that justify the $450-per-person tariff (before tip or beverages) for his omakase menu — or, for that matter, the $200-per-person fee for cancellations less than 48 hours in advance? That's something each diner must decide for him- or herself. Suffice it to say that Masa's toro-stuffed maki rolls inspire ecstatic reactions, his fugu sashimi (including liver, skin, and intestines) is well worth the frisson you'll get from consuming this fabled blowfish (toxic if not properly prepared), and his  toro with a generous helping of caviar seems almost worth the price of admission. That said, à la carte selections are also available.