It wasn’t so long ago that sushi was considered an exotic food in this country, and many Americans wouldn’t even consider eating raw fish. Times have obviously changed, and nowadays sushi has become as mainstream as pizza. You’ll find serviceable maki (rolls) and nigiri (rice with fish on top) at supermarkets and convenience stores all over the U.S. – and on a higher level, there’s no shortage of excellent sushi bars in cities large and small, including plenty that would feel at home in Japan.
As with any ancient food, the origins of sushi are somewhat opaque. Fermented rice was first used as a fish preservative in Southeast Asia hundreds of years ago, and it grew in popularity in Japan, where the fermented rice and preserved fish were first eaten together. In 1820s Tokyo (then known as Edo), the dish transformed into the dish of lightly vinegared rice with fresh raw fish that we know and love today; in fact, it was considered one of the first “fast foods.”
An expert sushi maker today, in America as well as in Japan and elsewhere, will spend years learning how to perfectly season the rice and slice the fish, form it in their hands, and deliver any finishing touches – from a brush of soy to a kiss of fire – to ensure that each piece of sushi is an edible work of art.
To compile a list of the best sushi bars in America, 24/7 Tempo compared reviews and ratings appearing on a wide range of websites, including Eater, The Daily Meal, Travel & Leisure, Men’s Journal, Time Out, Oishii-Desu, Restaurant Clicks, Big Seven Travel, Mashed, Thrillist, and The Recipe, as well as numerous city and regional sites.
You’ll notice that many of America’s top sushi bars are located on the West Coast; not only is this the region where sushi was first introduced to America (Kawafuku in L.A.’s Little Tokyo is often considered our first sushi bar) – it’s also the point of entry for top-notch Japanese seafood and home to a large Japanese population.
Click here to see the best sushi restaurants in America
A great sushi bar may just be a small counter where guests are treated to an array of nigiri made with the highest-quality fish available – or the bar can be the centerpiece of a restaurant that specializes in sushi as well as other classic Japanese dishes. (Even if they’re not sushi specialists, sushi is also on the menu at some of the best seafood restaurants in America.)
But if you’re in the mood for some truly incredible sushi, none of these sushi bars won’t let you down. Bring your credit card, though as good sushi never comes cheap – and some sushi places are among the most expensive restaurants in America.
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