Top 10 Japanese restaurants in the Twin Cities

Categories: Top 10

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5. Kikugawa
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, upscale 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. Sukiyaki, that ethereal, simmered beef dish, is the best in town, and the eight-course kaiseki teishoku is a delicious way to ensure you won't need to eat again for a full 48 hours.
(43 Main St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.378.3006
Kikugawa's website)


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4. Sakura
Sakura is the one Japanese restaurant you would want to have in your city if you could have only one Japanese restaurant: It does that much. Look inside the deep red walls on a typical night and you'll find legions of different customers. In one corner, Wild hockey fans seek the next spicy sushi sensation, daring the chefs to make them sweat. Near a front window, Japanese expats from local universities, 3M, and Unisys drink and snack till the wee hours. Elsewhere, graduate students take advantage of the thrifty yakizakana teishoku meals, the blue-plate specials, the meat-loaf-and-mashed-potatoes of everyday Japan. Vegetarians confer around the most reliable vegetable sushi in the state. Miyoko Omori, Sakura's owner, has been creating these layers of community for years now, and if you get a table near the window on a Sakura Saturday night, you might understand the brick-built weave of St. Paul in a way you never did before.
(350 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651.224.0185
Sakura's website)


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3. Nami
The elegant, soaring warehouse space feels more Miami than Minnesota, the throbbing late-night bar more Milan than Minnesota, and the low, low prices feel more Minnesota than we ever could have hoped for. Nami does well with all sorts of categories of food: It's a sweet spot for Japanese bar snacks and drinks; comfort foods like tonkatsu (a fried pork cutlet) and rice; a low-cal business lunch conveniently located halfway between the corporate towers of Nicollet and the art and ad-agency corrals of the Warehouse District; and even plenty of fear-free dishes like New York strip steak. The sushi is as good as any in town, but the restaurant really distinguishes itself with budget pricing, an amazing piece of "butterfish" (miso-marinated black cod), and ambiance that's chic and airy enough to support fancy dates, business lunches, and martini-soaked birthday parties.
(251 First Ave N., Minneapolis; 612.333.1999
Nami's website)


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2. Origami
There's no more satisfying feeling than sitting at an Origami table while a server pours one of owner Kiminobu Ichikawa's favorite sakes, for he or she will pour until the glass overflows, the tradition for good luck. Said good luck comes fast and furious in the shape of feather-light tempura, zesty salads, and noodle dishes with all the subtlety of rustling leaves. The downtown Minneapolis location 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 perfect stickiness, seasoned with a top-secret vinegar mixture. Bargain weekday noodle lunches and late-night celebrity sightings round out the package.
(30 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612.333.8430
12305 Wayzata Blvd, Minnetonka; 952.746.3398
Origami's website)


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1. Masu Sushi and Robata
Tim McKee continues to conquer the Minneapolis restaurant scene even as he diversifies. Masu Sushi & Robata opened in northeast Minneapolis in 2011, and already it's hard to imagine a time when we couldn't play Pachinko at a moment's notice. From the gorgeously devourable sushi to the charred robata to the slurpable bowls of ramen (especially that Tonkatsu curry), Masu is the complete package. The ebi yakisoba (pan fried noodles with jumbo shrimp) is a warm and flavorful mix of perfectly browned noodles, generous hunks of succulent shrimp, large slices of crisp cabbage, and a rich swirl of Japanese mayo that adds a creamy note to the whole bowl. The new Mall of America location is just as good, with sushi so fresh and artful it's almost impossible to believe you're eating it in a mall, mere steps away from Panda Express.
(330 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.332.6278
Mall of America, 344 South Avenue, Bloomington; 952.896.6278
Masu Sushi and Robata's website)


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Location Info

Venue

Map

Masu Sushi & Robata

330 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Origami

30 1st St. N., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Nami

251 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Sakura

350 St. Peter St., St. Paul, MN

Category: Restaurant

Kikugawa At Riverplace - CLOSED

43 Main St. SE, Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Fuji Ya Minneapolis

600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Obento-Ya

1510 SE Como Ave., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Moto-i

2940 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Tanpopo Noodle Shop

308 Prince St., St. Paul, MN

Category: Restaurant

Saji-ya

695 Grand Ave., St. Paul, MN

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
8 comments
myben_628
myben_628

oragami's website link doesn't work.  unfortunate, since origami is amazing!  ichi will be happy with your rating, but i would guess he's not so happy with this.  actual link: http://www.origamirestaurant.com/

keny1
keny1

Why isn't Tiger Sushi on the list?  Their Japanese food is "amazing"!  

marvingay
marvingay

Nononononononono stop mo perry please stop

Natalie Hagemo
Natalie Hagemo

You forgot Yumi's in Excelsior! They are the best.

Michelle Leann
Michelle Leann

I know where I'm going the next time a date ACTUALLY wants to pay.

Ross Levine
Ross Levine

A lot of good places are covered, but I am rather surprised Zen Box did not make the list. I could think of at least one or two places that could be bumped off the list in favor of Zen.

charlesjawad
charlesjawad

This is the sketchiest of these lists to date. The inclusion of Nami (at all, never mind that they're listed 3rd)-- whose standards and quality have gone down the drain the last two years-- and disclusion of Izakaya, sink this ship. Kikugawa 5th is also curious. The sushi at Lunds is better than what I last had there, but I'll concede I haven't tried in over a year. I can get down with Masu and Orgami in 1st and 2nd, though.

chezjoey74
chezjoey74

Really? No Zen Box Izakaya? Really???

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