The Best Sushi Restaurants In Philly  guide image


The Best Sushi Restaurants In Philly

From splurge-worthy omakase spots to low-key places for maki on the go, these are the best sushi restaurants in town.

Sushi restaurants 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 in Philly, there are so many options. From omakase places that make you feel as special as a trip to the spa to neighborhood staples where you can walk in and get some $15 sashimi, here are the 19 best spots in Philly serving quality raw fish.


photo credit: Max Grudzinski

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1355 N Front St, Philadelphia
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The $155 omakase at this Fishtown Japanese 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 meal or birthday dinner. All of this together makes it the best sushi and Japanese restaurant in the city. And 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. 

At Omakase by Yanaga, sashimi gets plated with gold Louis Vuitton chopsticks. That’s just one detail that makes this spot in Fishtown feel like a more glamorous than usual omakase experience, even compared to nearby Hiroki. They only do the $195 and 25-course tasting menu (including an $85 wine and sake pairing) from Thursday-Saturday, and it all happens in a private section of Izayaya by Yanaga. The fish is truly excellent with small bites and nigiri that can range from scallops coated with preserved lemon, a toro tartare served on crunchy milk bread, and crispy yellowtail topped in a miso caramel glaze. Spend a night here the next time you have something worth celebrating, or you just want to have a casual conversation with the sushi master while he flames up some pieces of Alaskan king salmon.

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Some things just make sense when you think about them: if you rearrange the letters in Britney Spears it spells Presbyterians, pumpkins are fruits, and Royal Sushi & Izakaya serves some great raw fish. At their izakaya bar in front, you can sit down at a booth and watch some anime, pay as little as $4 for a beer, and eat wagyu and fried garlic rolls. But if you want to be catered to like you’re at the spa, go for their 17-piece omakase in the back. You might see Washington kumamoto oysters and their chutoro caviar that’s a mix of fatty Spanish bluefin and osetra caviar. Both options at Royal work for different situations, but they’ll each deliver an experience you’ll probably be talking about until the next time you visit.

We find ourselves recommending 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, spicy scallop, and ume hirame, but they also have excellent sashimi options including some red snapper layered with kombu that's coated with a light glaze of ponzu. Definitely grab a reservation and come here to split a large bottle of sake with a few friends the next time you’re all celebrating. 

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 Headhouse Square is the perfect place to bring that bottle of sake to pair with one of their two omakase options ($98 for 13 courses or $148 for 20 courses). All the raw fish is stellar, whether you’re eating Japanese scallop, toro topped with caviar, or sweet shrimp with gold leaves.

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.

Unlike some other Japanese spots on this list, 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. You can’t dine-in here so you have to take your order to go—we recommend heading over to nearby Franklin Square if it’s nice out.

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 Umai Umai 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. 

Midori Sushi is a pretty casual place with ESPN 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 the specialty options like the grilled salmon or jumbo shrimp roll that you should go for instead of the classic ones. 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.

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

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Morimoto is an expensive sushi restaurant in Old City that looks kind of like the space station from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. 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. The best way to eat here, though, is the $165 omakase. You’ll get symmetrical cuts of ultra-fatty tuna tartare, bluefin topped with caviar, and a5 wagyu steak, among other bites. It's all a mix of the freshest seafood around, and your meal ends with treats like sakura panna cotta that’s worth the hassle of trying to secure a reservation. 

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 at least three hidden rooftops. Dawa is also right under the El on Front Street, and this tiny, casual spot 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 of the place 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. 

Ikki is right down the street from the Liberty Bell, so you can always expect tourists and late-night crowds looking to eat a few rolls before they close. Their juicy cuts of fish are only improved by the many sauces they put on the rolls and sashimi, including a smoky paprika drizzle that they use with the spicy salmon and shrimp. They also have a solid $15 lunch special, which comes with five pieces of sushi and a California roll, the next time you want something quick and delicious.

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 some 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.

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 North 4th and Race, and the menu is straightforward, but 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.

This Midtown Village BYOB has a leather booth 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 then 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. 

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. Besides having great cuts of fish, Tomo Sushi & Ramen makes some of the best ramen in town.

When people mention Japanese breakfast in this town, we don’t know if they’re talking about the Philly-based alternative band or getting a roll from Kei Sushi before noon. This spot in Center City opens at 11:30am, which means it’s a great place to come and ditch the office for a long early lunch. The space is pretty small, so it’s easy to relax at the sushi counter and watch as mackerel, hamachi, hirame, and salmon belly all get plated for the handful of families and people on first dates inside. Come here for a few handrolls full of chopped spicy tuna and chunks of crab meat, some pork gyoza soup, and the silky black sesame mochi ice cream for dessert.

The menu at this Japanese spot gets creative by grilliing an avocado and stuffing it with salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. But this is a sushi guide and they’ve got you covered on some more straightforward options too, like the spicy and crunchy yellowtail with jalapeño mango roll, plus delicious tempura shrimp rolls. With $15 rolls at lunch and $25 combinations running through 5pm, this is somewhere 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.

Somewhere in the back of your brain, you have a list of all the best neighborhood restaurants within a 10-minute walk of your home. And if you live in Northern Liberties, Hikari Sushi should be on that list. On top of serving some creative rolls like the Polar Bear filled with crunchy salmon and topped with white tuna, they’re also BYOB and have a bunch of outdoor tables where you can people-watch on American Street. 

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