This post is the debut of the BA Top 10, a monthly roundup of the best new restaurants, bars, and more–in a single category. Today, we look at America’s best new sushi spots.
Uchi restaurant in Houston, TX (Photograph courtesy Uchi)
Ramen shops and izakayas may get all the buzz when it comes to eating Japanese, but we’ll always be suckers for a great sushi place. There’s something almost cleansing about a simple, exquisitely fresh piece of fish prepared with a minimal amount of fuss. And with all the sustainable varieties of seafood showing up on menus lately, eating sushi can be a reminder that we haven’t totally fished out the oceans–yet. Here, in alphabetical order, are our picks for the best new sushi places across America. –Alex Van Buren
It’s Hawaii by way of Lake Michigan as chef Byungkyu Park prepares a wide selection of superfresh fish with tropical visual flourishes. Think fresh flowers and seashells, all under a vaulted wood and glass ceiling.
What to Order: The crunchy hamachi maguro ebi (yellowtail, tuna, and shrimp) wrapped in rice paper, or any of the sashimi. On chilly days locals slurp pork belly ramen brimming with fiery kimchi.
Good to Know: The father of co-owners Troy and Ty Fujimura was raised in Hawaii, which inspired the presentation and vibe at Arami.
1829 West Chicago Avenue; 312-243-1535; aramichicago.com
The Rose City’s acclaimed, hypersustainable Bamboo Sushi expands to a new 90-seat restaurant (with a 22-seat sushi bar) in the northwest quadrant this June. Look for fancier cocktails, a Scandinavian note in cooked dishes, and great local fish.
What to Order: The black cod with smoked soy glaze is a Bamboo staple, but nearly a quarter of the offerings here will be new, such as a seafood charcuterie platter featuring raw, cooked, and cured options.
Good to Know: Just as at the original, every fish is approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, and a portion of your dining dollars help sustain a nature preserve in the Bahamas.
836 NW 23rd Avenue; 503-229-1925; bamboosushi.com
Acclaimed chef David Bouley left his French-food comfort zone to open this Tribeca spot with Osaka’s Yoshiki Tsuji in 2011. Known for their kaiseki–a set menu for a multicourse meal–the duo expanded the raw fish selections this April with a bar devoted to Edomae (usually pristine nigiri–rice crowned with fresh fish).
What to Order: Sample the kampachi sashimi, of course, but don’t turn up your nose at the ethereal seasonal soups, either.
Good to Know: That striking wall in the bar is not made of crisscrossed pieces of wood, but rather of 25,000 paperback books, stacked with pages facing the diner.
30 Hudson Street; 212-791-3771; davidbouley.com
KOME SUSHI KITCHEN
Chefs Takehiro and Kayo Asazu asked their Japanese designer friends to do the interior of Kome. Smart idea. Their use of light wood throughout gives the place an airy, minimalist feel, while a ten-seat sushi bar lets diners watch the chefs at work behind the bar.
What to Order: Both cooked and raw offerings hit the mark, but look for surprising combos like the Texas Surf and Turf Roll–shrimp tempura, beef, candied jalapeno, avocado, cilantro, and “Texas green sauce.”
Good to Know: The duo is also responsible for popular Austin food trailer Sushi-A-Go-Go.
4917 Airport Blvd.; 512-712-5700; kome-austin.com
MASU SUSHI & ROBATA
Katsuyuki (Asan) Yamamoto, the man behind beloved Twin Cities Japanese spot Origami, makes the sushi at this colorful, reasonably priced restaurant. Sit at the horseshoe bar for the best service and fast refills of the excellently chosen sake.
What to Order: Yamamoto is just as skilled with rolls (a Firecracker is packed with shrimp tempura, snow crab, cucumber, avocado, and spicy tuna) as he is with sashimi (try the silky scallop); don’t overlook his tasty bowl of ramen.
Good to Know: The menu is sustainability focused, with not a single bluefin tuna in sight.
330 East Hennepin Avenue; 612-332-6278; masusushiandrobata.com
Some of the best sushi on the East Coast is at Portland’s Miyake–a former BYOB operation hoisted from its tiny digs and installed in a remarkably elegant new space. There’s a gorgeous geometric birch dropped ceiling, comfy black chairs, and Masa Miyake himself.
What to Order: Gazi uni: sea urchin roe harvested right up the coast, local sweet shrimp rolled up with spicy mayo and avocado, and Hamayki: crab, lobster, and scallop sashimi fanned out in a pearlescent shell.
Good to Know: From away? Rejoice in the fact that you’ll pay half of what you would for a similar meal in New York or Boston.
468 Fore Street; 207-871-9170; miyakerestaurants.com
Look for the sign trumpeting “Japanese Cuisine 12244″ above a space-age structure that, oddly enough, once housed a barbecue joint. Inside, you’ll find an intimate restaurant with a handful of seats, a small sushi bar, and, of course, fantastic fish.
What to Order: Pompano–chef Shunji Nakao might be blowtorching its skin behind the counter–or a justifiably famous dish of raw squid, uni, squid ink, and black truffle topped with a golden quail egg yolk.
Good to Know: Nakao is not immune to the charms of French cuisine, so don’t be astonished to see moments of fusion, such as yam stuffed with blue cheese.
12244 West Pico Blvd.; 310-826-4737; shunji-ns.com
SUSHI KAPPO TAMURA
It’s no surprise that one of the best restaurants in Seattle, the epicenter of stellar Pacific seafood, is a sushi place. Sit at the bar when you can–the omakase (chef’s choice) is reasonably priced, and chatty chef Taichi Kitamura can direct you to the best catch of the day.
What to Order: The tender albacore tuna belly, fresh from Washington State waters.
Good to Know: Kitamura prides himself on using ingredients harvested in the Northwest, so look for local-to-the-area specialties like steamed spot prawns served with sake butter.
2968 Eastlake Avenue East; 206-547-0937; sushikappotamura.com
Tomo has been serving Atlanta’s best sushi since 2005, but chef Tomohiro Naito recently upgraded his location from an off-the-beaten-path strip mall to this sleek space in the heart of ritzy Buckhead. Finally, we can enjoy Naito’s beautiful food under flattering lighting!
What to Order: Try usuzukuri, ultrathin slices of fluke dotted with hot sauce and served with a bright ponzu jelly, or lobster sashimi paired with uni.
Good to Know: Naito used to work at Nobu Las Vegas; he’s got serious chops and can actually make something called sake-Gorgonzola sauce work.
3630 Peachtree Road; 404-835-2708; tomorestaurant.com
Locals queue up for tables while food-TV fans crane their necks for a glimpse of Top Chef winner and executive chef Paul Qui at this second Uchi location, where owner Tyson Cole has replicated the success–and the masterfully composed dishes–of the Austin flagship.
What to Order: Both the esoteric (smoked yellowtail with yucca chips, Asian pear, buttery Marcona almonds and candied garlic) and the popular (Shag Rolls with tempura salmon, avocado, and sun-dried tomato)
Good to Know: Sneak in between 5:00 and 6:30 for their “Sake Social” small plates menu and drinks specials.
904 Westheimer Road; 713-522-4808; uchirestaurants.com/houston