The Best Sushi Restaurants In Philly  guide image


The Best Sushi Restaurants In Philly

From splurge-worthy omakase to take-out maki, these are the best sushi restaurants in town.

Sushi can work for just about any meal, whether that's a quick lunch, date night, special occasion, or just when you want something kind of healthy. And sometimes it feels like there are as many sushi restaurants as there are true crime podcasts. From omakase places that make you feel like a pampered poodle to neighborhood staples with solid sashimi, here are the 15 best spots in Philly serving Japanese raw fish.


Royal Sushi & Izakaya

Some things just make sense when you think about them: if you rearrange the letters in Britney Spears it spells Presbyterians, pumpkins are fruit, and Royal Sushi & Izakaya serves the best sushi in Philly. At their izakaya in front, you can sit down at a booth and watch anime, pay as little as $4 for a beer, and eat wagyu steak in a shiro dashi glaze and slow-braised chashu pork buns. But if you want to be catered to like you’re at the spa, go for the incomparable 17-piece omakase in the back. You might see Kumamoto oysters, velvety King Salmon sashimi, and their chutoro caviar (that’s a mix of fatty Spanish bluefin and osetra caviar). Each dining option works for different situations, but they’ll both deliver an experience you’ll be talking about until the next time you visit.

The $155 omakase at this Fishtown spot might cost more than a front-row ticket for The Lion King on Broadway. But it’s all worth it, since you'll get a 20-piece omakase experience of meat and seafood-focused dishes that will be some of the best in your life. You’ll be served things like an expertly cooked wagyu beef tongue covered in white bean foam and gold flakes, poached quail eggs, and spongy matcha tea cake to end your romantic meal or birthday dinner. All of this makes Hiroki one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city. Whether you’re at the crowded sushi bar watching the chefs precisely slice each piece of fish or sitting at one of the dimly-lit tables with a group of friends, you’ll feel like everybody working at Hiroki can somehow read your mind. 

There’s quick takeout sushi you eat alone in your office, and then there are high-quality omakase meals that can cost as much as a pair of over-ear headphones. Sakana is the latter. The BYOB sushi spot in Queen Village is the perfect place to bring a bottle of sake to pair with one their 20-course, $148 omakase. All the raw fish is stellar, whether you’re eating Japanese scallop, toro topped with caviar, or sweet shrimp with gold leaves.

We find ourselves recommending Midtown Village’s Double Knot all the time, and that’s mainly because of its versatility. They have a packed cocktail lounge and sushi bar upstairs and a dark izakaya downstairs that kind of looks like Dracula’s dungeon. You can go with $20-and-under rolls like spicy tuna, toro scallion, and ume hirame, but they also have excellent sashimi options, including red snapper layered with kombu and coated with a light ponzu glaze. Make a reservation and come here to split a large bottle of sake with a few friends the next time you’re all celebrating. 

Unlike some other Japanese spots, Kaiseki in Callowhill focuses solely on sushi. The most expensive roll on the menu is $20, and most maki come topped with things like bright red chili thread, wasabi tobiko, and a sweet and sour umeboshi tahini dressing. If you need to feed a large group, they have a few large combination platters that range from $17-$28 and come with pieces like nigiri topped with caviar, otoro handrolls with daikon sprouts, and tuna maki.

The Rock said in an interview once that sushi is his favorite “cheat meal.” For the rest of us, sushi is a perfectly acceptable option when we’re trying to eat something on the healthier side, and this Fairmount restaurant is one of the best places in the city for it. This spot works especially well if you’re looking for creative rolls that aren’t deep-fried or covered in aioli, like the Eternal Sunshine with cucumber, avocado, salmon, and apricot-miso sauce. The space here is pretty small, but once you get into your rolls, you won’t really care where you’re eating.

The menu is super long at Tomo, but you don’t have to worry about making the wrong choice. Everything here is delicious, whether that's spicy scallop maki or the 16 vegan rolls that use everything from fried onions to saucy zucchini. They also have some great lunch specials, including $18-and-under rolls and vegan bowls full of "tuna" and pickled vegetables. Plus, besides having great fish, they also make some of the best ramen in town.

Midori Sushi is a pretty casual place with The Kelly Clarkson Show on the TV in the corner and just a couple of booths and a handful of seats. When it comes to the menu, the Society Hill spot has specialty options like the grilled salmon or jumbo shrimp roll that you should go for instead of the classics. Packed with torched cuts of salmon, avocado, and covered in teriyaki sauce, the crunchy and sweet balance is the perfect complement to the high-quality fish.

There are a lot of weird, cool things under the El: a dive bar with a heavy metal night, a high-end event venue attached to a high school, and Dawa. It’s a tiny, casual spot that has some of the best food you can find in Fishtown. The restaurant is split into two separate experiences: there’s a room with 16 tables where people can order shoyu ramen and yellowtail handrolls, and then there’s a seven-seat sushi bar where the owner serves 15- to 24-piece omakase meals all by himself. And aside from feeling like you’re part of his crew, you’ll get to eat otoro fatty tuna, king salmon rolls, and lemony scallops. Just know you’ll have to book ahead, as they only offer the omakase from Thursday-Saturday. 

The menu at this Rittenhouse spot gets creative—like with the grilled avocado stuffed with salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. But this is a sushi guide, and we’ve got you covered with more straightforward options too, like the spicy crunchy yellowtail with jalapeño mango roll, plus delicious tempura shrimp rolls. With $15 rolls at lunch and $25 combinations running through 2:30pm, this is a place to prioritize for your midday meal, or whenever you want to sneak out of work a little early for a drink and a few snacks.

This Midtown Village BYOB has leather booths lining the walls, a long sushi bar, and a handful of tables that work great for a small group hangout. The prices here are pretty reasonable, with dozens of classic and signature rolls under $20. Our favorite, the Legally Blonde roll, comes filled with hamachi, jalapeño, and scallions and is topped with bluefin toro and a passion fruit ponzu. Head here for a casual weeknight dinner or a date night when you want to impress your partner by finding a great sushi spot and the perfect bottle of rosé. 

There are a lot of casual sushi spots around the city, but none of them get as crowded as Kisso. It’s in a little orange room on the corner of 4th and Race, the menu is straightforward, and everything is very good. This would explain why on a random Tuesday night, you’ll sometimes encounter a 30-minute wait. If you decide to stick it out, they serve some of the freshest fish around and have some interesting appetizers as well—like the music box (warm Alaskan king crab in a soybean wrap topped with creamy soy sauce), and a red snapper carpaccio that we crave regularly.

With massive windows, intimate lighting at night, and a long u-shaped bar, Tuna Bar makes for a great date spot when you want a bunch of sake options and some of the best sushi in Old City. Plus, you can usually stop by without a reservation, order a few small plates like crispy miso brussels sprouts and oysters, and spend the rest of the night drinking junmai sake and eating too many spicy crab-filled liberty rolls. An added bonus if you’re here in the spring: you’ll have a great view of the cherry blossom trees or a Ben Franklin impersonator.

Fat Salmon is one of the best restaurants in Old City, and a place where you can go for sushi that’s topped with things like pineapple cilantro, pico de gallo, and broccoli pesto. The presentation doesn’t take away from the fact that they serve excellent rolls, full of high-quality raw fish, all wrapped in warm vinegary rice. The pink and blue mood lighting in the dining room sort of makes you feel like you’re at a club in Miami, but it doesn’t get too rowdy. Since the kitchen stays open to 11pm, you can get a few rolls in before heading to Strangelove’s for a nightcap.

Morimoto is an expensive sushi restaurant in Old City with interiors that kind of look like the glowing buildings in Tron. It’s a good place to suggest when your client says “I’m buying,” or your boss asks where they should take the team for a celebratory dinner with rounds of sake (they have an impressively long list). You should go for classic rolls like spicy tuna and soft shell crab over the $165 omakase (it’s pretty much just a remixed version of the regular dinner menu). It’s pricey, but since you can casually walk in, the extra money is worth avoiding reloading a reservation page on a loop just to get in elsewhere.    

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photo credit: GAB BONGHI

The Best Sushi Restaurants In Philly  guide image