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Top 10 sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities

Raw fish lovers have many options in the Twin Cities
Raw fish lovers have many options 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.

1) Origami

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 Origami website

2) Masu

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 Masu website

3) Fuji-Ya

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 Fuji-Ya website

4) Kikugawa

Top 10 sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities

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 Kikugawa website

5) Sakura

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 Sakura website

 

6) Wasabi

Top 10 sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities

Sushi lovers who are also penny-pinchers who also party hard have one clear destination in Minneapolis: Wasabi Fusion Cuisine. One of the few restaurants on Washington Avenue with a parking lot, the dining area is enclosed within a beautiful, temple-like space of soaring ceilings and sturdy 19th-century rafters. Beyond that, all its strengths lie in wicked strong drinks, cold beers, and big, big value: A party platter for four (or more) runs $65, for instance. At lunch, three big sushi rolls and a bowl of miso soup cost what a single roll does at most rival restaurants. Wasabi's unlikely to be the first choice for sushi snobs, but if you're sick of picking up astronomical tabs at those sushi snob birthday parties, welcome to your new favorite restaurant. 903 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis. 612.339.6688 Wasabi website

7) Seven Sushi Ultralounge and Skybar

Top 10 sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities

There's a little bit of Las Vegas on Hennepin Avenue at the Seven Sushi Lounge, upstairs from Seven the Steakhouse. The lights are low, the house music incessant, and the stylish crowd is more mature and more moneyed than the rest of the downtown nightlife scene. The sushi and sashimi range from pure ruby blocks of raw toro to smorgasbord-style maki. The sheer scope of the sushi menu earns Seven a spot on the list, with nine chef's-specialty rolls available in addition to the 20+ standard rolls on the menu, not to mention the seven platter options for multiple diners. Prices reflect the downtown hot-spot vibe, and the rooftop deck, or Skybar, is one of the hottest perches in town during warm weather. 700 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis. 612.238.7770 Seven Sushi Ultralounge website

8) Nami

Top 10 sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities

It seems counterintuitive to have a family-run restaurant with all the chic trappings of urban cool, yet here it is. Nami opened in 2002 in an elegantly renovated warehouse in downtown Minneapolis with a Japanese sushi chef lured from Los Angeles, a thumping sound system, and an enormous bar full of beautiful people. And yet it seems like there's always a member of the Choi family somewhere on the scene. 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 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis. 612.333.1999 Nami website 9) Chino Latino

If you're a hot enough country, you're cool enough to have your cuisine represented at Uptown's red-hot Chino Latino--Mexico, Thailand, Jamaica, Polynesia, Korea, take a bow, you're in! And if you're hot enough to sip powerful, fruity, yummy drinks in a dazzling sort of red-toned Blade Runner sequel of a restaurant, look no further than this two-level style palace. The extensive menu, which features flavors from wide-ranging cultures and cuisines, makes Chino Latino a great destination for groups that include people who have yet to succumb to the allure of raw fish. Sushi lovers can choose from creative, ambitious options like the Chipotle Salmon Roll or the fiery Wasabi Tuna Drano Balls, while those who like their food fully cooked have no shortage of choices on the rest of the epic, sassy menu. 2916 Hennepin Avenue S., Minneapolis. 612.824.7878 Chino Latino website

10) Sushi Tango

Top 10 sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities

Ever since Teng "Tengo" Thao, a Hmong native with an impish, contagious sense of fun, began making the counter at Origami not just a place for great food, but a place for bar-pounding fun, a devoted cult has followed him and his sideman Sefu as they blazed an award-strewn trail through all the best sushi bars in town. When he opened this little spot on the second floor of Calhoun Square, the little cult breathed a collective sigh of relief, so exhausted were they from having to keep track of Tengo's comings and goings. Why the cult status? Scrupulously fresh fish; extravagant, even overblown, sometimes hilarious rolls; and a joint-is-jumping sushi-bar atmosphere with jokes, drinks, more jokes, more drinks, and fish fish fish. With locations in Uptown and Woodbury, urbanites and suburbanites alike have access to some of the most raucous sushi in the state. 3001 Hennepin Avenue S., Minneapolis. 612.822.7787 8362 Tamarack Village, Woodbury. 651.578.0064 Sushi Tango website

Previous coverage:

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Top 10 late-night restaurants in the Twin Cities

Top 10 romantic restaurants in the Twin Cities

Top 10 bloody Marys in the Twin Cities

Top 10 margaritas in the Twin Cities

Top 10 macaroni & cheese dishes in the Twin Cities

Top 10 burgers in the Twin Cities

Top 10 ice cream shops in the Twin Cities

Top 10 coffeehouses in the Twin Cities

Top 10 hot dogs in the Twin Cities

Top 10 pizzerias in the Twin Cities

Top 5 brewpubs in the Twin Cities

All of these lists are available on City Pages' new Best of the Twin Cities app. Click here to see it in action.

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