Where to Find the Best Sushi in Tokyo (and Probably the World)
Chow down on some of the most excellent sushi in Tokyo and you'll never look at this worldwide favorite the same way again.
Sushi is quite possibly the most popular Japanese food in the world, with restaurants cropping up in new cities almost every day. Although once considered an exotic treat, sushi has become so commonplace that even some gas stations and convenience stores have begun selling it! Of course, there is something to be said for the quality of fresh, delicious, perfectly prepared sushi, which is still a little bit harder to find than ordinary California rolls. When it comes down to it, no place can top the excellent sushi that comes out of Tokyo. That should go without saying! As the capital city of sushi’s home country, Tokyo has the preparation of this classic Japanese food down to a science. Nowhere else on the planet will you find sushi rolls or sashimi prepared with the kind of expert hand, fine attention to detail, and fresh local ingredients that you can discover among the greatest sushi restaurants in Tokyo. Join us for a tour of the city and learn where to find the best sushi in Tokyo—and probably the best sushi in the world!
What to Eat in Tokyo
Tokyo is known for being one of the biggest culinary hot spots in the world. This busy city plays host to thousands of restaurants, some of which serve up traditional and very authentic Japanese food, while others offer international dishes or even some incredibly off-the-wall concoctions that can’t be found anywhere else. A visit to Tokyo provides tons of opportunities to indulge in all different kinds of food, from the mundane to the extraordinary, and there are a handful of treats you absolutely have to try while you’re there. Give yourself a chance to sample real Japanese ramen, onigiri (rice balls), tonkatsu (fried pork), wagyu beef shabu-shabu, and maybe some of the weirder foods on the Tokyo menu the next time you’re in town. However, by far the most important food item you have to try while you’re in Tokyo is real Japanese sushi.
Of course, sushi remains one of the main draws of Japanese dining. Local Japanese residents consider it one of the best dishes the country is known for, and tourists flock to sushi restaurants to gobble up rolls and sashimi in incredible amounts as well. It would be impossible to list every excellent sushi restaurant in Tokyo, simply because of the staggering number of these eateries that can be found throughout the city. As a matter of fact, there are over five thousand restaurants serving sushi in Tokyo alone, excluding the rest of the country. You can’t take more than a few steps without running into some place with sushi on the menu! With that said, of course, some are better than others. Don’t be afraid to try going off the beaten path a little bit, but bear in mind that the sushi restaurants listed here remain some of the most popular with tourists and locals alike, which gives them the kind of staying power that some of their competitors may not have.
There are many different kinds of sushi restaurants that you are bound to encounter during your travels, and most of your choices will largely depend upon your budget. If you are willing to spend upwards of ten thousand yen (around $100 per person) or more on your meal, you can really indulge your taste buds with the kind of excellent fresh quality, hard-to-find ingredients, and attentive preparation and service that only the most expensive, high-class sushi restaurants can provide. However, this type of dining is not for everyone. Bear in mind that the pricier sushi restaurants book up way ahead of time and may not have any English speakers on staff, so your chances of getting a table could be slim to none, depending on the restaurant you’re looking at.
For around 5000 yen (roughly $50) per person, you can enjoy high quality sushi from a family owned and operated shop instead. Your bill will be much less shocking than at the ritzier shops, but you’ll still have all the benefits of sushi prepared by experts who have been in the business for generations. For something cheaper still, go to a chain sushi restaurant, and expect to shell out around 2000 yen (roughly $20) per person on your meal. These shops cater much more to English speaking customers, with photos on the menu and sushi on display, so they can be a good way to ease into Tokyo sushi dining. Although they are chains, they do still offer pretty nice quality rolls and sashimi.
Last but not least, you might want to check out at least one conveyor belt sushi shop while you’re in Tokyo. The quality is not as fresh at these restaurants as it is at most of the others, and rolls are more likely to be the type you’d find in an American sushi restaurant as well. For just about 1000 yen (approximately $10) per person, you can enjoy a sushi meal in the heart of Tokyo without having to worry too much about the price or figuring out what you’re ordering. Again, the choice is up to your budget, and the following list of restaurants will offer selections from just about every level of sushi shop you can expect to find on your next trip to Tokyo.
When pricing your sushi experience, use an up-to-date currency converter to keep track of how much you've spent.
This list of excellent sushi restaurants in Tokyo begins with Sushi Iwa, one of the local high-end sushi shops that has been given a Michelin star distinction. With a traditional Japanese style exterior and street-level entry, Sushi Iwa is one of the more expensive sushi shops that remains easy to find, even for foreigners who have never been to the city before. This alone can make it worth your while. When you’re looking for a classy sushi experience in Tokyo, you might already have some difficulty finding a restaurant where you can communicate your order effectively. No need to worry about getting lost on the way as well! Despite Sushi Iwa’s classification as a high-end sushi shop, it is still one of the more affordable restaurants that has earned this description. Visit when you’re in the Ginza district and want to enjoy some of the best quality sushi in the city without shelling out the kinds of prices you might find at some of this restaurant’s peers.
Sushi Iwa is certainly a toned-down version of the high-end sushi restaurant, but you can still order a full-course sushi dinner here. Stop by for lunch or for dinner and order one of the several-course meals available. One of the most popular is the ten course meal, which runs around 4800 yen at lunch (roughly $45) or around 18000 yen at dinner (roughly $180). For these comparably affordable prices, you can enjoy several different varieties of nigiri sushi and sashimi, usually at the selection of the highly skilled chef. Expect to receive several small but delicious pieces of sashimi fish or shellfish, thinly sliced and served atop small mounds of white rice for a clean and refreshing flavor profile. The meal also comes with soup and small appetizers, and lasts about two hours from start to finish. This is definitely a classy way to start your tour of Tokyo sushi!
Sushi Iwa is open daily for lunch from noon to 2pm and dinner from 6pm to 10pm.
Up the ante a little bit from Sushi Iwa and head to Harutaka, a sushi restaurant which has received two Michelin stars as of early 2015. As one of the top three most popular sushi shops in Tokyo, you can expect an excellent experience and a pretty steep bill when you visit Harutaka. However, if you have the money and want to shell it out for a perfect evening of excellent sushi, look no further than this fine dining location. Like many of the area’s high-end sushi restaurants, Harutaka buys its fish fresh daily from the nearby Tsukiji Fish Market and only serves what was available for purchase on a given day. The chef himself makes the final selection on every fish purchased every day, so you can be sure that the ingredients used at Harutaka are some of the best in the city. Despite the restaurant’s high-class standards, it still provides a relaxed atmosphere, so you won’t have to feel like you’re eating among snobs or worry too much about your etiquette (provided you at least make an effort!).
For around twenty thousand yen (approximately $200), you can enjoy the full-course sushi service at Harutaka. This meal comes with a small appetizer and bite-sized dessert, with fifteen courses of sushi in between. The types of sushi you receive during your meal might differ from someone else’s experience on another day, simply by virtue of what’s in season and what could be found fresh from the market that morning. Generally speaking, your sushi experience will begin with a handful of whitefish and shellfish nigiri, followed by some more unique and interesting ingredients like abalone or cockle. You can also expect to receive some type of larger shellfish, such as ebi (large Japanese prawn), at some point during your meal. Bear in mind that even though fifteen courses of sushi sounds like a lot, each course is only one piece of nigiri per person, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finishing every course with ease. As with Sushi Iwa’s two-hour-long experience, the full course sushi dinner at Harutaka is meant to be savored and enjoyed slowly.
Harutaka is open Monday through Friday from 5pm to 11:30pm, Saturday from 5pm until 10:30pm, and is closed on Sundays.
Sushi Dai Tsukiji
You might immediately recognize the word Tsukiji from the name of Tokyo’s famous massively sprawling fish market. This sushi restaurant is located within the fish market itself, which makes it a prime place to grab some sushi if you’re planning to visit the market for tourism or to make some purchases of your own. Sushi Dai Tsukiji is frequently referred to as the best sushi restaurant in Japan, despite having received no Michelin stars and not costing an arm and a leg to eat from. So what makes this little out-of-the-way sushi shop such an impressive part of Tokyo’s dining scene? Its customers all agree that Sushi Dai’s proximity to the incoming fish from the market makes it the best place to get the freshest sushi in the entire country. Fish is caught, brought to Tsukiji Fish Market, and immediately sold to Sushi Dai. With no extra steps in between, this means that the ingredients in this sushi come straight from the ocean to your plate!
Since fish shipments arrive at Tsukiji Fish Market in the wee hours of the morning, many customers line up outside Sushi Dai as early as 4am just to get a bite of the freshest sushi of the day. Dining space is limited, so if you plan to make Dai Sushi your breakfast stop, expect to arrive early. The shop actually opens at 5am, but you won’t be seated that early if you don’t stake out your spot in line at least two hours before the doors open. Customers who make it through the entrance within the first half hour consider themselves especially lucky to receive the delicious treat of sushi right off the boat without having to stand in line all morning long. Order the nigiri sushi set for around 2500 yen (roughly $20) per person, or the sushi and nigiri set, which runs around 4000 yen (roughly $40) per person instead. Like many other sushi restaurants in the city, the daily offerings will largely depend upon what was available from the local fishermen.
Sushi Dai Tsukiji is open from 5am to 2pm every day except Sunday.
Check out Miyakozushi when you want to enjoy fine dining without all the cost. Although Miyakozushi has not received a Michelin star rating, it remains one of the more popular sushi hot spots in Tokyo. The clientele at this restaurant is by far mostly comprised of Japanese locals who visit regularly, and as such, you might have a little trouble locating Miyakozushi if you’re a first time visitor. This is the kind of place you only know about if you’ve been before or have a friend who has introduced you to it, but despite its lesser-known reputation, it stays booked solid most every night. The atmosphere is casual and informal, with the chef himself chatting with guests all night long and making the whole dining room feel like a group of long-lost friends. You will probably want to call ahead or at the very least arrive early if you want to get a table at Miyakozushi.
Since this restaurant is a little more off the beaten path and does not have to meet the swanky standards of high-end sushi shops, portion sizes are much larger here, and you’re more likely to fill up on your food rather than enjoy it in small bites, as an experience more than a meal. Miyakozushi can easily be classified as a mid-range, family owned and operated sushi shop, with leanings toward a fine dining setting by virtue of its multiple-course sushi meal. Order the full sushi experience and you will only have to spend around ten thousand yen (around $100) for the most expensive meal on the menu. Individual rolls are much more affordable here than at the restaurant’s pricey counterparts, so you might consider purchasing them on their own rather than eating your meal course by course. However, with prices well under those of the Michelin-starred sushi shops in town, this is a great place to get several courses of sushi for a reasonable price without sacrificing excellent quality ingredients. Once again, sushi courses are determined by the chef based on daily availability.
Miyakozushi is open Monday through Friday from 11am to 2pm for lunch and 4:30pm to 10pm for dinner. It is open for lunch on Saturdays and closed Sundays.
Easily one of the most widely recognized and commonly frequented sushi restaurants in Tokyo, Sushi Saito has more than made a name for itself among locals and visitors alike. This restaurant has been given a whopping three Michelin stars, and it is often referred to as the best sushi restaurant in the world. Previously located in a parking garage, making it next to impossible for foreign visitors to find, Sushi Saito has finally made the move to a more convenient spot in the Roppongi area. With seating space for only eight people and a lot of good publicity to back it up, it can be very difficult to get a table at this popular sushi restaurant. It is important to understand that dining at Sushi Saito comes with a hefty price tag, but if you’re looking for one of the best full-course sushi meal experiences in the city, you can’t go wrong with this well-known, beautiful place to eat. Step through the doors and find yourself surrounded by a serene, spa-like atmosphere and doting staff who ensure the perfect dinner for every one of their guests, every time.
Although Sushi Saito books months in advance, there are a few English speaking employees on staff, and the chef himself speaks enough English to help you call ahead and make a reservation. Like other high-end sushi restaurants, Sushi Saito serves its meals in courses, with offerings changing periodically to reflect ingredient availability. Visit for lunch to try a ten or fifteen course menu, or visit for dinner to enjoy an 18-plus course meal with more than just sushi in the rotation. Dinner will run at least twenty thousand yen (around $200) per person, and could cost even more, depending on the ingredients used. Lunch is not much cheaper, but it can save you some money if you choose to stop by during the day instead.
Sushi Saito is open daily from noon to 2pm for lunch and from 5pm to 11pm for dinner.
The final classier sushi restaurant on our list is Sushi Kuriyagawa, a unique and creative restaurant that does not have any Michelin stars but is nevertheless very popular with visitors to Tokyo from all around the world. Unlike many other high-end sushi shops in the city, Sushi Kuriyagawa makes use of ingredients that may not be quite as traditional as those found on the menu at its contemporaries. The chef prides himself on serving dishes that guests may not have had anywhere else before, but even so, you aren’t likely to find anything too bizarre here. Most of the creativity at Sushi Kuriyagawa comes from the supporting ingredients used in the sushi, as well as the methods of preparation for the rolls and nigiri. When you’re in the vicinity of Shibuya, don’t pass up this excellent opportunity to dine on a full-course sushi meal at an affordable price in a formal atmosphere.
Sushi Kuriyagawa is one of the only high-end sushi restaurants where you can expect to find fatty tuna, avocado, or salmon on the menu. Amid other, more traditional ingredients, you might find these as well as quail eggs and other unique offerings in your nigiri-style sushi courses. One of the most popular types of sushi served at this restaurant is the yaki-zushi, which is usually made with crab and egg, and grilled gently on a cedar plank before being brought to your table. Another frequent item on the full-course menu is the rolled sushi doused in hot tea, which creates a savory experience that is out of this world. Sushi Kuriyagawa is also a great place to enjoy some truly delicious, very fresh uni (sea urchin), if you’re looking for something a little different in your sushi. Reservations are usually required for this small, intimate sushi restaurant, but you probably won’t have to call more than a day ahead of time to book your table. Meals run around 7000 yen (about $70) per person here.
Sushi Kuriyagawa is open daily from 11:30am to 2pm for lunch, and from 6pm to 11pm for dinner.
Unlike every other sushi restaurant on this list, Rainbow Roll is an incredibly Westernized sushi shop in the heart of Tokyo. This is one of the only places in the city where you can find sushi rolls like you might enjoy in the United States, piled high with toppings and packed full of ingredients like salmon, cream cheese, or sweet potato. If you love inside-out sushi rolls, with the rice on the outside and all the ingredients, including the seaweed, on the inside, you’re in luck, because Rainbow Roll has plenty of them on its extensive menu. In the nation where sushi was born, it is very uncommon to come across the strange Western version of this traditional dish. Sashimi slices of raw fish arranged delicately across sticky white rice are much easier to come across than big, thick sushi roll pieces teeming with proteins and strange vegetables or fruits. Head to Rainbow Roll when you want to indulge your taste buds in your favorite sushi flavors from back home.
Despite being unpopular with the locals, Rainbow Roll has steady business from Westerners looking for the kinds of sushi they know and love in the middle of Tokyo’s dining scene. The ingredients used at Rainbow Roll are all very fresh and of a nice quality, but they are not quite as exquisite as those you might find at some of the higher-end sushi shops in the city. This restaurant does not serve full course sushi meals, so you can expect to order your rolls individually here, which can save you a lot of money. Try the decadent soft shell crab roll made with crab straight from the Fish Market, or order an even more classic Western favorite like a volcano roll or a Philadelphia roll to quench your appetite for American-style sushi.
Rainbow Roll is open daily from 11:30am to 3:30pm for lunch and from 6pm to midnight for dinner.
After spending a lot of money at some of the fancier sushi restaurants in the city, head to Ganso Zushi for an entirely different, and much more affordable, experience. Ganso Zushi is one of the bigger chains of sushi restaurants in and around Tokyo, and like many of its fellow cheaper sushi shops, it is a conveyor belt style restaurant with several locations that make it easy to find. Grab a seat around the belt and watch as freshly prepared sushi and appetizers cruise slowly past, waiting for a diner to grab them and enjoy. While you might not see them, there are a couple of chefs present in the back, putting together rolls at a lightning speed to keep up with the demand of the customers seated around the bar. Rest assured that no sushi roll or nigiri piece will be left on the conveyor belt for more than a couple of rounds at most. If they haven’t been snatched up, they will be removed and replaced with something even fresher for you to enjoy.
At Ganso Zushi, different plates of food are charged at different prices, ranging from a meager 130 yen (around $1) to 525 yen (around $5) per plate. The cheaper rolls and nigiri are made from fewer ingredients, and might include vegetable sushi or simple tamago pieces. Certain ingredients are available at their own specialized prices, including a specific cut of flounder at 105 yen (under $1) per slice, or two pieces of fatty tuna for 130 yen (about $1). There should be a signboard in the store, as well as paper handouts, explaining the prices. Since this is a chain shop and very often frequented by foreign customers, these handouts are printed in English and should be easy to navigate. If there’s something you’d like that you don’t see rotating around on the conveyor belt, don’t be afraid to ask the chef to prepare it specifically for you. You won’t be charged any more than you would be if the item was available on the belt, and you’ll have fresh sushi all to yourself!
Ganso Zushi has several locations, most of which are open from 11am to 11pm daily.
Last but not least, take all the guesswork out of your more affordable sushi experience by visiting Uobei, one of the first computerized sushi restaurants in Tokyo. This is not a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, and all of the rolls and nigiri are prepared fresh as soon as orders are placed. Chefs are kept behind the scenes, out of sight, lending to the illusion that the entire restaurant is run on automation. When you step inside, you will be left to hunt for a seat on your own, without any interaction with a host or server. Sit down and peruse the menu on the screen in front of you, then use it to place your order. As soon as your sushi is complete, it will be delivered to your table by way of a chute that spits it out right in front of you in record time. Uobei is like the sushi shop of the future!
Since this restaurant’s ordering system is fully automated, there are plenty of photos on the menu to help make ordering easy even for guests who don’t speak Japanese. At only 105 yen (under $1) per menu item, however, you can probably afford to take a few chances on ingredients you might not usually try! If anything is unavailable for the day, the menu will not allow you to order it, but otherwise what you see is what you get. Try the big eye tuna roll or go for a more common yellowtail nigiri instead. Depending on what’s in season, you might also find a few slightly more expensive options on the menu, labeled as specials. These can be a nice treat, but the quality and flavor of the standard sushi at Uobei is excellent enough to keep you happy at an incredibly affordable price all on its own.
Uobei is open daily from 11am to midnight.
Whether you’re looking for something traditional or you prefer to stick to modern sushi rolls influenced heavily by Western tastes and flavors, you can find the perfect meal in the heart of Japan’s culture and heritage. From the incredibly affordable sushi-go-round to the pricey and elegant full-service sushi experience, Tokyo is the place to be to enjoy this worldwide culinary favorite. The next time you find yourself in Tokyo, make the rounds and check out the best sushi restaurants the city has to offer. Bring a friend or two and order some rolls to share. The more the merrier, after all, and there are so many tasty dishes available from these fine restaurants that you’ll need help if you want to sample them all! Enjoy your gastro-tour of the finest sushi in Tokyo, and happy eating.
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