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Tokyo is a foodie’s paradise — you can find just about anything you’re craving in this city.
And the food is always delicious. It’s honestly one of my favorite things about this town.
But when visiting Japan, you need to try sushi. And while most of the sushi you find here will be better than the sushi back home, there’s a huge difference between convenience store sushi and the really good stuff.
So, here’s a guide to some of the best sushi in Tokyo.
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What is Sushi?
When I first moved to Tokyo, I went to multiple sushi places expecting to see elaborate sushi like dragon and volcano rolls. Well guess what? They don’t exist in Japan.
That’s because those Volcano and Godzilla rolls aren’t authentic sushi. Real sushi is simple: vinegared rice and fish or vegetables.
Sushi in Japan typically refers to nigirizushi (standard sushi with fish on top of a ball of rice), makizushi (simple maki rolls), and temakizushi (cone-shaped sushi).
And traditionally, the chef decides whether a piece of sushi requires anything like wasabi or soy sauce.
7 Sushi Restaurants in Tokyo You Need to Try
Sushi no Midori
For amazing value at an equally amazing price, try Sushi no Midori. Midori has multiple stores, and none of them take reservations. Instead, they run on a ticket system. What this means is that you need to get there early in order to even eat.
Wait times of three hours are common at dinner.
Head to Sushi Sho for Edo-style sushi. A local favorite, Chef Keiji Nakazawa is known for aging the fish for a number of days.
Try the omakase menu, a 35-piece set course, to get a full look at this sushi master’s style.
>More information and bookings
Located in the upscale department store GinzaSix, Tsukiji Suzutomi is operated by the Tsukiji tuna broker Suzutomi.
Try high quality seafood direct from Tsukiji in an elegant atmosphere. The tuna is particularly delicious.
With three Michelin stars and fans like Chef Joel Robuchon, Sushi Saito is worth your attention. Chef Takashi Saito is a leader in the industry, masterfully aging ingredients to bring out the best in flavor.
With only seven seats, you need to reserve months in advance to eat at this place.
>For Sushi Saito reservations click here
Daisan Harumi Sushi
Visit Daisan Harumi Sushi to taste the work of a true craftsman. Serving sushi for over 50 years, chef Nazuo Nagayama is a master in the sushi world and has authored a number of books on the topic.
While dining here, you’ll find out information about each of the fish used and get to try freshly made wasabi.
Nihonbashi Kakigaracho Sugita
Infamously known as one of the hardest sushi spots to book, Sugita serves up Michelin star magic. This restaurant is a favorite among locals. Make sure to try the appetizers and the kohada.
This list wouldn’t be complete without the famed sushi restaurant from the sensational documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”. Travel back in time and enjoy the atmosphere of a traditional sushi house at Sukiyabashi Jiro.
This restaurant exclusively serves an omakase menu, or a Chef’s selection menu, that consists of 20 pieces of sushi.
>Click for more info and reservations
How to Eat Sushi
If you’ve never eaten sushi before, you might feel a bit intimidated. Here are some tips to eating sushi like a local:
1. Advanced reservations are a part of life in Japan. And unless the restaurant doesn’t take reservations (like Midori), you will need to book in advance for most of the top sushi restaurants. Check online, and if you can only book by phone, ask your hotel concierge.
2. When eating at a Japanese restaurant, the staff will hand you a wet towel called an oshibori. Use this to wipe your hands before eating, but do not use it to wipe your face. You can keep it by you to wipe your hands during the meal (see number 4).
3. If you read and speak Japanese, many places will have an a la carte menu. Otherwise, go with a set menu. Many sushi restaurants have an omakase menu featuring the best of the chef’s specialties.
4. In nicer sushi restaurants, the chef will decide if and when to use garnish or sauce. If this is the case, you can just pick up the sushi and eat it. If not, pick up the sushi and dip it in soy sauce fish-side down.
5. You can pick up sushi using one of two methods. The method you probably are familiar with is by using chopsticks. Hold the chopsticks parallel to the table and lift the sushi by grabbing the sides.
The other method, and what some argue is the proper way, is by using your hands. With your middle finger and thumb, pick the sushi up by the sides of the rice. Be careful not to grip tightly as the sushi will fall apart.
6. Do not pull apart or eat the sushi in multiple bites. Each sushi is sized and made to be eaten as a whole.
7. Eat the sushi immediately after it is served. The chefs meticulously prepare each piece and serve it at the optimum time and temperature. The longer you wait, the drier the fish becomes and the colder the rice gets.
8. Cleanse your palate in between sushi pieces with a slice of pickled ginger, or shoga. This removes any extra fat and flavor from your mouth so you can enjoy each piece of sushi to the fullest.
Sushi is all over Tokyo, and these are just seven places to try real, authentic sushi at its finest. Regardless of whether you visit these places or not, the sushi will be great.
And remember: start your meal off with a happy “Itadakimasu!”
Learn how to make sushi in Tokyo
Want to learn how to make sushi? There’s no better place to do it than in Japan.
Join a sushi making class in Tokyo and you can learn how to recreate your favorite pieces at home. A course with a professional English speaking sushi chef will have you rolling your own maki in no time – click here for sushi course details
What is your favorite sushi place in Tokyo?
Or do you have another recommendation for the best sushi restaurant in Tokyo
Travel in Japan ideas and tips
If you’re headed to Japan and want to explore beyond Tokyo, check out our itinerary and guide to Kyoto and the seafood centric town of Kanazawa.
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Delilah is a Tokyo-based expat and freelance content creator. When she’s not working, Delilah loves spending time with her partner and sharing their luxury travel and expat life adventures on her blog fleurdelilah. Make sure to follow her for more on Pinterest and Instagram.