Sushi is my favorite food. I’d eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I could. (In fact, I have had it for breakfast before.) Since it is such a popular delicacy and you can pretty much find it anywhere in the world, I make it my mission to try sushi everywhere I go in an attempt to find the best sushi places in the world. After visiting countless sushi restaurants over the years, these are my favorite destinations for high-quality sushi:
In general, Australia doesn’t have a lot of good sushi. It is mostly standard, average, supermarket-quality sushi that you can find in just about every grocery store in America. Every restaurant is a quick fix or a sushi train: decent enough to satisfy a craving, but nothing to write home about. You simply walk away full. But in Melbourne, I found quite a few very authentic Japanese restaurants with mouth-watering sushi, exotic fish, extensive menus, and healthy portions. Having had sushi around the region, I was wonderfully surprised. So surprised that I had sushi for the majority of my meals while I was there. If you are in Australia, save all your sushi money for Melbourne.
Favorite restaurants: Kenzen and Nobu
New York City
New York is second in the world for the best sushi, after Japan. There is a sushi restaurant every block here, and most of them are actually really delicious. You can find everything from sushi chains to basic restaurants to world-class, high-end, blow-your-budget eateries. Most have a wide variety of sake, too — not just that hot crap that tastes like gasoline. And the best thing about New York sushi is that you can find something worth eating at every price point. Heck, I’m a sushi snob and I still love the stuff from Whole Foods. Simply put, even the basic places here are world-class. I’d take them over some of the “best” places in other parts of the world.
Favorites: Yuba, Sushi Zen, Tanoki’s Sushi Sake Bar
The birthplace of sushi and the place where all fish is usually routed through, via the big Tokyo fish market, it’s pretty obvious that Japan has some of the best sushi in the world. I only had sushi here once on a layover between Thailand and America (we actually organized our flight so we could have enough time to get sushi), but I remember the portions being huge, the fish being of excellent quality, and the variety second only to what I find in America. When I return here in November, I plan to gorge myself on fish.
You’ll find great sushi in London if you are willing to pay for it. London offers a lot of quick-eat sushi places, which you can find dotted around the city. I like these places because I can get my sushi fix in, but they aren’t exactly great. I only ever eat sushi in London when I know I can spend some money, or if I have a craving that I absolutely have to give in to. The really quality fish won’t come cheap in London. And sometimes frankly, I’d rather not eat sushi at all than eat poor-quality sushi.
Like London, there is some fabulous sushi in Paris but, unfortunately, you pay a lot for it. It isn’t cheap. Not by a long shot. Paris does decent mid-range sushi (though I think it’s overpriced for the quality) and first-rate high-end sushi. While I love sushi, it would be nice to see some more budget, “I-just-need-a-quick-sushi-fix” places in Paris. I didn’t see many while I was there — at least not any worth eating at. So if you want sushi in Paris, you will have to shell out lots of money for it. But the quality and variety of what you get will be worth what you spend.
You wouldn’t think you’d find mouth-watering sushi in Bulgaria, but they have a chain called Happy Sushi, which blew my mind. I am always skeptical of chain restaurants, even more so when they are in places never mentioned on “good sushi” lists. But this one produced surprisingly delicious sushi, especially at the flagship restaurant in Sofia. Moreover, the portions were big and the menu fairly large, and it left me wanting more. I ate there so often the waitresses in Sofia recognized my friend and me.
Favorite: Happy Sushi
Bangkok has a huge array of sushi restaurants. There is a large Japanese community here — add that to the large number of Western expats who call this city home, and you can expect to find some quality sushi in Bangkok. Plus, the Thais love it, and it’s sort of a status thing to be able to go out for sushi. You’ll find everything from very traditional to more fusion-Western sushi here. The local Thai chains aren’t very good. I enjoy some of the traditional restaurants in the Japanese district, but they also tend to be overpriced — delicious, but overpriced.
Italy doesn’t offer much in the way of sushi, but if you are looking to satisfy a craving, Rome has a few restaurants worth checking out. But, like in the rest of Europe, if you want it, you have to pay for it. I’d say there are fewer than a handful of places here worth visiting. But while the selection is usually very limited, the quality is good. I like places with a lot of variety. But in the land of pasta, I’m happy there is such great sushi to be found if you know where to look. And, in true Italian fashion, all the restaurants are very sleek and trendy.
Favorite: Roma Hamasei
I was pretty surprised to find delicious sushi in the middle of the United States. After all, it’s not like there is any ocean around. But given that Denver has a huge international airport, I guess it sort of makes sense. I drove through here while traveling across America, and my friend took me to three sushi restaurants. At one, I had never tasted salmon so good as I was served that day — and to this day, I’ve yet to find salmon as good.
Favorites: Sushi Sasa
Vancouver is home to a large Asian population, so you find a lot of different Asian restaurants here — as well as lots of good sushi. I didn’t find a lot of variety in the fish here, though. In many parts of the world, you can get a long list of fish to choose from at sushi restaurants, and, given Vancouver’s proximity to the ocean, I expected the same here. But I didn’t find it. However, while I never found world-class NYC sushi here, I found that Vancouver does have the best value sushi restaurants. For the most part, the sushi here is average, but the value for money here is some of the best in the world, and sometimes that’s really important.
Places that had the worst sushi: New Zealand, Germany, Scandinavia, Romania, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Panama
Everywhere I go, I always get sushi. I’ve found that, with the popularization of sushi around the world, most destinations have at least one place that is satisfying and will give you your sushi fix. But if you want more than satisfying — if you want delicious — try sushi in any of the above cities.