Though it did take a while for us to open up to the joys of Japanese cuisine, and we were a bit squeamish about raw fish at first, there’s no doubt that Japanese food is here to stay in our daily lives and eating habits. The constant improvement in the quality of produce, a spike in the number of restaurants, and our eagerness to open up to new flavors and cultures are the key ingredients behind this phenomenon.
The star of Japanese cuisine is, without a doubt, sushi; a term that encapsulates various types of food whose main ingredients tend to be rice, raw fish (sashimi) and seaweed. In fact, we are so fond of this combination that almost everyone can distinguish between nigiri and maki these days.
With the occasion of International Sushi Day we’ve hand-picked our favorite sushi restaurants. Compiling this TOP 8 has been no easy feat (especially sticking to choosing just one venue in Japan), but we’ve taken into account various factors such as the quality of the ingredients, the location, and how close they come to true Japanese culture, with the aim of putting together a list of restaurants where a Japanese person would feel right at home.
We hope you like it!
Tokyo – Sukiyabashi Jiro
The top rank on our list is clearly for a true Japanese restaurant, the popular Sukiyabashi Jiro. This small restaurant owned by Sushi Master Jiro Ono in Tokyo’s Ginza Neighborhood has a mere ten seats, and no less than three Michelin stars. On its website you’ll find valuable tips about the best way to eat sushi, what to drink, and how to properly use soy sauce. If you want to learn more, watch the documentary titled Jiro Dreams of Sushi by David Gelb. If you are in Tokyo, don’t miss out on this culinary experience.
New York – Masa
If you are in New York, you may want to try Masa’s sushi. But remember to bring oodles of money with you because this renowned restaurant is considered to be among New York’s and the world’s priciest. Chef Masa Takayama opened this venue in 2004 becoming a huge success in just a couple of years, and by 2009 Masa had already earned three Michelin stars for his delicate cuisine and the purity of his philosophy.
London – Kiku
It is in London’s Mayfair that we find Kiku. This restaurant stands out from the thousands of Japanese restaurants in the English capital for the quality of its ingredients, always fresh, and for a cuisine that respects the most ancient Japanese traditions in a simple and modern environment. Kiku opened its doors in 1978, when sushi was still far from a trend, and one of its most remarkable features is the warmth with which they treat guests.
Paris – Isami
In Europe’s most gourmet capital we find the small and cozy Isami, generally considered to be one of the best Japanese restaurants in Paris. What will surprise you most about this venue run by the reserved Chef Katsuo Nakamura is the simplicity of its decor, as well as the exquisiteness of its menu. The price is affordable and it’s something not to miss out on if you find yourself in Paris.
Milan – Osaka
If you are in Milan but want to teleport yourselves to Japan for the night, you must visit Osaka Restaurant. You’ll always find the freshest of ingredients cooked in the most purely Japanese style in a simple and pleasant environment. It is the aim of this venue to make its Japanese guests feel right at home, and so there’s no better place for a true Japanese experience in Milan. Whether you are there on holiday, or reside in Milan, delve into the delicious menus prepared by Chef Ikeda Osamu.
Cologne – Kintaro
Kintaro is very possibly Germany’s best-known Japanese restaurant. This small gem of Japanese cuisine in the city of Cologne was founded in 1988 by Chef Takusaburo Arakawa. The list of regulars that swear by this restaurant where you’ll watch them prepare each dish before your very eyes is far from short.
Barcelona – Koy Shunka
Spain’s best sushi, according to many, is to be found in Barcelona, in downtown restaurant Koy Shunka owned by the young Chef Hideki Matsuhisa. It was awarded its first Michelin star in 2013, and in an interview, Ferrán Adriá named it among Europe’s best oriental restaurants. A truly gourmand experience with top quality products in a refined atmosphere.
Amsterdam – Tomo
If you are vacationing in Amsterdam and crave sushi, you are in luck because you’ll find the city’s best Japanese restaurant, Tomo, in the Reguliersdwarsstraat. Don’t question it, just go ahead and taste some of the best top quality sashimi, nigiri and maki at this modern designer venue.
Feeling hungry? We know we are!
Leave us a comment below and tell us about your favorite Japanese restaurant.