Top 10 sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities
The Twin Cities may not be renowned for its fresh seafood, but we do have some respectable options when it comes to sushi. With the Japanese culinary staple becoming more and more ubiquitous, it helps to have an idea of which places consistently offer the freshest, tastiest sushi. A hot dog is often just a hot dog, but there's nothing quite so disappointing as bad sushi. With this in mind, the Hot Dish offers this guide to the top ten sushi restaurants in the metro area.
Raw fish lovers have many options in the Twin Cities
Origami in downtown Minneapolis has been the leader in sushi excellence for two decades with its consistently fresh and extensive fish selections, expertly prepared rice, and high quality nori. Owner-chef "Ichi" (Kiminobu Ichikawa) has been keeping a watchful eye over the quality of ingredients since he opened the restaurant in 1991. He uses Tamaki Gold rice, with a sweet aroma and the perfect stickiness for sushi, seasoned with a top-secret vinegar mixture. The quality of nori at Origami is apparent when you bite into a roll: the seaweed wrapping easily dissolves with the rice and the fish in your mouth. Bargain weekday noodle lunches and late-night celebrity sightings round out the package. Who knew Elvis Costello, Tony Hawk, and Al Roker had anything in common? The Ridgedale Mall location is not as star-studded, but just as good.
30 North First Street, Minneapolis. 612.333.8430
12305 Wayzata Blvd, Minnetonka. 952.746.3398
Yet another feather in local restaurant maven and James Beard award-winner Tim Mckee's cap, Northeast Minneapolis' new Masu Sushi offers sashimi and nigiri, plus five types of makizushi, or rolled sushi (thin rolls, fat rolls, rice-on-the-outside rolls, as well as "rolls" made with rice shaped into balls or stuffed into tofu pockets). Masu is the first local Japanese restaurant to source fish with mindfulness toward sustainability. The kitchen doesn't offer the typical sushi restaurant's bluefin tuna or yellowtail--both labeled "avoid" by the Monterey Seafood Watch--and instead replaces them with several fish rarely, if ever, seen on other local sushi menus, such as sardines, striped bass and Arctic char. Masu's sushi prices are fairly reasonable, with the omakase sushi assortment offering the best value (it's available for parties of two or more, for $18 per person).
330 East Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis. 612.332.6278
With sushi so fresh you'd think you were in Japan (or at least Hawaii), Fuji-Ya helps us forget just how land-locked we are here in Minnesota. It opened in 1959 and is credited as the Twin Cities' first Japanese restaurant. Hipsters flock to the Uptown location and willingly shed their Chuck Taylors and Frye boots as they enter one of its three private zashiki rooms to dine on sumashi (clear fish broth), kaiso (seaweed), and bulgogi (thinly sliced rib eye). Meanwhile, the downtown St. Paul venue proves that sashimi is the great equalizer--the pre-show choice of Ordway patrons and Wild fans alike. The happy hour is legitimately happy, running "late" until 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday in Minneapolis and Monday through Thursday in St. Paul, with discounts on beer, wine, and sushi, as well as daily sake and martini features.
600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis. 612.871.4055
465 Wabasha St., St. Paul. 651.310.0111
Kikugawa remains unchallenged as the Cities' only fine-dining Japanese restaurant where the service and ambiance count as much as the food. With an extensive sake menu, atmospheric location featuring views of the Minneapolis skyline across the river, and authentic Japanese seating with inviting cushions and low tables, dining at Kikugawa is a unique, up-scale experience. Warm hand towels are delivered to the table, and the sushi chefs are always happy to take customized requests. The menu features several sushi platter options, fashioned out of the freshest available slices of fish, vegetables, and roe, arrayed on seasoned rice and served with miso soup. They also occasionally offer an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet for $34.95 that will make you think you've died and gone to sushi heaven.
43 Main St. SE, Minneapolis. 612.378.3006
Sakura is a sweet restaurant in downtown St. Paul for people with Minnesota lifestyles but Tokyo tendencies. Sushi appears on a simple wooden platter, accompanied by tiny eruptions of wasabi and ginger. The yellowtail and the albacore tuna dissolve on the tongue, and long creamy strips of tamago (egg custard) are heaped on rice that's just sticky enough. The vegetarian selections are the widest in the state. Some of our oldest and most reliable favorites on this newly spiffed-up restaurant include the saba shioyaki (grilled mackerel) and vegetable sushi combo, as well as the vegetable tempura that's at once crisp and grease-free, and whose mushrooms and sweet potatoes, so muted-looking beneath their battery shells, surge with juicy flavor.
350 St. Peter St., St. Paul. 651.224.0185