What an adventure it is to find the best sushi in Tokyo, especially when each sushi bar is so unique. The art of sushi has been around since the eighth-century Japan. Though the origins developed in Southeast Asia and China, it evolved during the Edo period and became a trademark of Japanese culture over the course of hundreds of years, with different regions offering their own local touches throughout the 19th century.
Ask the locals and they’ll say the best place to get sushi is outside of Tokyo, closer to the seaside, where the fish is fresher than the city. Especially since Tokyo's Tsukiji fish marked closed in October of last year, the city has seen a shift. Since then, the Toyosu Fish Market in east Tokyo opened as one of the city's biggest developments, it has closed one city chapter and opened another. Tokyo is a city in constant flux, so while you still can, here are our top places to get sushi in the bustling capital.
The restaurant industry is male-dominated in Japan, a woman sushi chef is the founder of this restaurant. Chef Fumie Takeuchi's restaurant is in a fourth-floor hideaway in the district of Ginza. This must-visit sushi bar is tiny, seating only eight people. Pair up your favourite kind of sushi with a variety of sake, from clear to cloudy. Takeuchi can often be found chatting with her customers; and be sure to ask her for her recommendations when you visit.
If you're on a short trip to Tokyo with only enough time for a sushi pit-stop, this one of the fastest options: it's sushi, served on a conveyor belt (this is known as kaiten-zushi). It's a family sushi chain with two locations in Tokyo, and is known for serving some of the best fish, straight from the market. With long lineups during traditional hours, it's best to visit for an early or late lunch.
If you're set on trying high-end sushi in Tokyo, one of your best bets is this upscale sushi bar, known for its retro 1980s decor. Come here for the nostalgia and the menu, as this place has a cult following, and is highly respected in the restaurant industry. Find it in the bustling Minato district.
This three-Michelin star restaurant is spearheaded by a husband-and-wife duo. A tiny sushi bar that seats just seven people, they serve only omakase sushi. The chef, Masahiro Yoshitake, is a master of small plates, from cod milt dishes to oysters. It also feels a bit like a Finnish sauna here, as the walls are covered with wood. Pair the sushi with a glass of Hiroki sake. And be sure to book in advance, especially for groups.
Manten Sushi Marunouchi
If you find yourself in the Chiyoda-ku district, this sushi bar has gotten rave reviews from the Japanese media. Set in the basement of the Misubishi building, just steps away from Tokyo's main train station, bookings must be made at least a month ahead of time online. Some of the best dishes they serve include clam soup, the unagi sushi with eel and cucumber, as well as the melt-in-your-mouth uni rolls.
Known as the best sushi restaurant for beginners, you won’t be intimidated here. This sushi bar goes against the grain, as the chef here is not your typical stern or strict in their demeanour — or their cooking style. Sushi chef Junichi Onuki spent a decade working in the city of London before returning home to open this restaurant. It's easy to find, as it's tucked into the lobby of Hotel S in the trendy Roppongi district. Grab a seat at the counter facing the chef-in-action to try salmon sushi paired with Coedo Shiro wheat beer, or the tasting menu, which mixes sashimi sushi with scabbard fish and cod milt.
Find this boutique-sized sushi bar down an alley in the Ginza district amid bars and theatres. A favourite among food bloggers, the chef Takao Ishiyama speaks fluent English and can answer any questions you might have. The full tasting menu is served over two hours, but quicker meals, like at lunchtime, serves small plates like crab, beer, sake and mackerel. As a more high-end sushi bar, the prices are higher but so is the quality. They're closed Mondays.