The Best Sushi Around the World

By Nomadic Matt | Published October 5th, 2011

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:

Melbourne

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. Everything 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 I went for the majority of my meals while I was there. If you are in Australia, save all your sushi money for here.

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: Mizu, Matsuri, and Morimoto

Japan

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 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.

London

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.

Paris

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 is 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.

Bulgaria

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, the menu fairly large, and it left me wanting more. I ate there so often the waitresses in Sofia knew my friend and me.

Favorite: Happy Sushi

Bangkok

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.

Favorite: Isao

Rome

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

Denver

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.

Vancouver

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 where I 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.

comments 41 Comments

Gidon Gerber

Brussels: Nagomi Superstore on Chaussée de Vleurgat sells excellent Sushi on Saturdays, 12 Euro for nine pieces.

As a Denverite, I’d love to hear where you had great sushi in town. There are a number of places that pride themselves on over-nighting fish from the coast (and even one that gets it semi-direct from Japan). If you remember, please let us know. Also, I’ve been following your blog for at least a year now, and I love it. This is my first comment – keep up the good work!

I’d love to know the name of the Denver sushi restaurant too!

Cal

Yum. I d love me some good Sushi. Perth used to have a nice little spot that I liked going to. I would always go around about a half hour before they would shut down. Most of the time I would get 2 for 1.

Love that!

I see you didn’t give any address for Paris.
As you said, sushi in Paris come in two ways (not too expensive and crappy – about 500 of those “restaurants” are in the city – none of them owned by a Japanese person btw) or quite expensive and good.
The price comes from three reasons I guess: Paris (not a cheap city), good quality fish in Paris is not that common, scarcity, not many good sushi restaurants, so prices are up.

It is said that Isami (quai d’Orleans) is the best sushi restaurant in town. However it is very expensive.
So my first choice is always Hotaru (18, rue Rodier) while it is pricey for dinner, lunch can be relatively cheap and you can have amazing sushi for a little less than €20.

Kelsie

If you’re in ever in Vancouver again, try The Eatery. It has delicious sushi, lots of selection and the price isn’t too bad either.

Franki

I COMPLETELY agree. I love the Eatery! Definitely go there! The decor and tone of the place is also ridiculously awesome, and nowhere else in Vancouver can you get fried chicken or yam fries or deep fried banana in your sushi. Also, one of the few places around town to get a deep fried Mars bar.

I kind of think sushi in Vancouver has become a staple in our diet for many people to the point where it is almost a ‘local/cultural’ food. You can find sushi on virtually every corner, everyone eats it (in fact on occasion it is one way to tell locals from non-locals), it’s an affordable meal and it’s just… so wonderful. <3 sushi

Rob

Living in Thailand, I have come across some great sushi on Koh Chang. The island is famous for fresh fish and that seems to have crossed over to the sushi “field”. You had to hunt for a place 2 years ago but it is much easier to find now :)

Chris Haughey

I’m missing out. Embarrassed to say I’ve never tried sushi!
Will have to give it a go in Bangkok!

I can tell from the pictures that the sushi is served by an experienced chef. The presentation looks great! I only wish that this restaurant is in my neighborhood.

Is anyone else hungry after this reading this post? I am!
Great article!
Cheers & safe travels, Katy

Globe Trudger

Awesome article on a terrific subject(sushi is also my kryptonite) and i agree with Vancouver at the top, they have incredible choices for a entirely seafood cuisine.

Also really like your site. very helpful to me as a somewhat new traveler. Feel free to check out my new traveling blog.

Thanks Matt!

Laura

Here in Japan ot all the sushi is good :p. There is some awesome sushi, and some pretty dodgy train stuff. I do recumbent quite a few of the sashimi dishes however, especially snapper, tuna and horse…

Monica @TotalTravelBug

Mmm, this looks amazing. I really got into sushi in Sydney where it is just everywhere and great for a cheap little snack and now I’m obsessed. I agree with the comments on London sushi, you get what you pay for and you have to pay a lot to get good sushi over here.

nice photos on the sushi around the world makes me want to go to all these spots

Leksi

Japanese – I loved…if you ever go to Lisbon…not bad at all :)

NomadicMatt

Thanks for the tip!

Fab post Matt – yum! Don’t discount not-so-sleepy Perth which is becoming a lot more sophisticated in the epicurean stakes these days. My fave sushi bar is called Jaws, opposite the Mint, in hip East Perth on Hay Street.

YUM! Sushi is also my all-time favourite, and something I crave – if not downright NEED – regularly on my world travels. Out of necessity I’ve gotten quite used the the supermarket/fast-food-variety, but there’s nothing like a good sushi meal (which by the way, I did find in New Zealand – contrary to your experience).

Thank goodness sushi has become so popular worldwide and you can get it in so many places; I grew to love it long before it was common or commonly adored.

NomadicMatt

Where did you have good sushi in NZ?

I am sure the sushi you listed at all of these places is good, but having lived in Japan — and eaten sushi in many other countries — I just don’t think you can compare. I understand for the purpose of this article you have to list other options, but there is no sushi like Japanese sushi. It’s absolutely fresh, often less than 24 hours out of the sea, and expertly prepared by the people who invented it. I live in Tokyo, Japan in 1992/3 and I still dream of Japanese sushi….

Joel Tillman

Have you ever tried/heard of Kimbap?

NomadicMatt

No, I have not. What is it/that?

Joel Tillman

It is basically the Korean equivalent of Sushi. They put a few different items in their rolls (like pickled radish) and wrap the seaweed on the outside every time but it is still a sushi roll to me. They don’t have sashimi there though :(

Any Korean/Asian market should have some form of it. Give it a shot and tell me what you think.

I think you were a bit harsh on Australia. There are some amazing sushi restaurants in Sydney. If you ever go back there, let me know, and I’ll give you some great tips! :)

Damn… I LOVE that sushi.

Uni is my fave followed closely by otoro. Salmons not to bad either but ultimately its all good, and good for you. Yum.

Denise F

Did you try Tojo’s in Vancouver?

Elle

If you think Australia doesn’t have a lot of good sushi when compared to America, you didn’t spend enough time here or learn enough about our food culture to make a credible judgement.

I am Australian but I’ve lived in New York and Singapore and I’ve traveled a lot (including Japan )and wandered throughout the states during my time working in NYC; I can assure you that I’m right when I tell you that there is beautiful sushi in Australia, when compared to America.

I’m surprised that you don’t mention Sydney. You suggest that you’ve eaten sushi throughout Australia and the highlight was Melbourne. To me, this suggests that you made a hasty and uneducated assumption re sushi in Australia.

If you were to actually compile a serious ‘best sushi around the world’ list and you wanted to mention Australia, you would at least need to eat at Tetsuya’s. I would also strongly recommend eating at Yoshii before attempting a comment on sushi in Australia.

Ronnie

Australia has the worst sushi in the world. It’s extremely expensive, often not fresh and without variety too. If you’re after mediocre fish and chips, then you’ll get it here, otherwise look for sushi elsewhere

Elle

I must warn you that Tetsuya’s take on Japanese is original so there may or may not be a dish resembling sashimi or sushi when you go there (that is, if you were to go there).

oh, and Koi. I’ve only eaten there once but it was quite good. For a casual place with some nice alcohol, I like Izakaya Fujiyama.

Montreal is reknown for its food, its multicultural cuisine, and gourmet fare…and sushi is BIG in this city. One day you are going to have to do some taste testing at this end of the world….

Next time when you come to Vancouver, you should try ” Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi ” at Miku Restaurant. Jalapeno on the Salmon Sushi has nice kick! Did you try Japanese traditional breakfast in Japan, big breakfast with raw egg? I am Japanese but I cannot eat Sushi for breakfast.

I’m really surprised to find my country here. I’ve always liked the sushi in Happy restaurants but I didn’t knew it was actually that good. Ive never ate sushi in some other country, so I can’t compare, but if you say so, it must be true! :D

Taks

Can’t believe Hawai’i isn’t on that list!

NomadicMatt

I haven’t been there. Any recommendations?

these are mouthwatering and one which I will also use to remind myself of my first sushi in Osaka, Japan. I had been missing sushi about almost every travel I do since my Japan trip.

:)

Tomo

I post this from Japan.

I haven’t ate sushi in foreign countries ever and I was surprised at your pictures.
Sushi in your pictures looks beautiful and so delicious.

Nice photos.

Di

South Africa! I have had sushi in London and Germany and it wasn’t NEARLY as delicious as what we have here in SA :) The fish is so fresh and restaurants do so many good specials throughout the week. Nothing like it!

Wow – I was definitely surprised about Bulgaria having sushi! Yum, so delicious!

Sarah

Add Fairbanks Alaska to the list! Fresh fish, big rolls, heaven. Try Wasabi Bay Sushi.

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