As embarrassing as it is that the roll named for our city contains cream cheese, the truth is Seattle's sushi scene is fresher than the salmon on ice at Pike Place. Not only does our port location bring us fresh local fish (other places would kill for that local salmon and pay through the teeth for Northwest geoduck), but also our Eastern-facing shores provide a quick connection to Japan -- the sushi Mecca. And there's no shortage of variety: from your first oyster slurp to a final nibble of tamago, no two sushi spots are the same. Here is Seattle's best sushi -- whatever kind you’re looking for...
Best for big spenders
Pike Place Market
You'll be out $95 for the omakase meal at Kashiba's Pike Place sushi bar. And it will be worth every last penny you spend on the fresh tuna from the South Pacific or mackerel from Norway, as well as the local shellfish bounty. Sit in front of the famed Shiro -- or one of his worthy lieutenants -- and put yourself in their hands as they bring you the best of the ocean in course after course of nigiri.
Most interesting assortment
As the first sushi restaurant in the country to convert to entirely sustainable fish, Hajime Soto's West Seattle spot is no stranger to breaking new ground -- and that includes getting creative with its fish. At the sushi bar, ask for what's fresh and unusual, and you'll be rewarded with scallop coral, catfish dressed as eel, and uni on a snowshoe (tempura-fried shiso leaf).
Best classic sushi experience
Sushi Kappo Tamura
Somewhere between the flashy new guys and the elder statesman of Seattle sushi, fits this classic (and classy) joint. There’s everything a sushi lover wants on the menu, not too many bells and whistles, and of course, flawlessly prepared fish.
Best place for giant slabs of fish
Restaurants don't stick around for more than 100 years just because they can. They last a century because they serve giant blankets of fresh fish for absurdly affordable prices and have a bar where an octogenarian named "Mom" serves both drinks and sass, but namely drinks.
Best for late night cravings
Umi Sake House
Maybe you worked late, maybe you partied early, maybe you’re watching a Discovery Channel show about the migration habits salmon around midnight. Whatever the case, Umi is there for you. Go ahead and let your beer-brain do all the ordering because, oh, did we mention it's happy hour from 11pm to 1am? That's right: good, cheap sushi, in the middle of the night.
Best neighborhood spot
It doesn't matter if it's actually in your neighborhood or not, it's the best. It’s the kind of place where you pop in on a weeknight for a few quick bites, or where you get takeout to shove down your maw while you watch Game of Thrones, or where you even put on pants and go on a Friday night omakase blowout bender.
I Love Sushi
South Lake Union
Should you ever need to bring a giant platter of sushi somewhere... like, oh I don’t know, to your apartment whilst binge watching House of Cards, give these guys a call. Within an hour, they'll have a variety tray of presidential proportions delivered to you that’s full of fantastic fish.
Best place to pair your fish with a cocktail
Should we be weirded out that our fair city has a surprising number of strong contenders for this category? Or, perhaps, proud that we are a city that understands just how well a bourbon might go with a bite of tuna? In either case, Liberty manages to weave both cocktails and raw fish (as well as espresso) seamlessly into a place we'd like to hang out all day, every day, all the time. Please stop kicking us out.
Best place to eat sushi outside
You can't see it from the street, but if you slip past the pastry case, past the two tables inside and the minuscule kitchen, there’s a hidden gem: a back patio that basks in mid-day sun. This tiny but cute operation isn't doing anything too daring, but the small assortment of sushi makes a perfect mini-meal or side dish to the menus more substantive options... or maybe just a slice of tiramisu cheesecake.
1. Sushi Kashiba86 Pine St Ste 1, Seattle
2. Sushi Kappo Tamura2968 Eastlake Ave E, Seattle
3. Mashiko4725 California Ave SW, Seattle
4. Maneki304 6th Ave S, Seattle
5. Umi Sake House2230 1st Ave, Seattle
6. Kisaku Sushi2101 N 55th St, Green Lake
7. Liberty517 15th Ave E, Seattle
8. I Love Sushi1001 Fairview Ave N, Seattle
9. Modern Japanese Cuisine6108 Phinney Ave N, Seattle
You won't find fresher fish than at Shiro Kashiba's eponymous spot in the Pike Place Market. This master chef's new resto offers elegant omakase inspired by locales of the Pacific Northwest —try the Seattle, the Peak, the Alaska, or the Rainer.
Here, sushi is made from sustainable fish that is top grade in this town, and you pay for it. Kyoto-born Chef Taichi Kitamura trained at acclaimed Seattle sushi outpost Shiro, and Sushi Kappo Tamura is a showroom for his expertise. The simple, light space does nothing to distract from what’s important: the fish. Don’t think twice about going omakase (chef’s choice), and relinquish control to Kitamura at the sushi bar, who will carve the day’s catch into precious raw morsels. Ultimately, supreme freshness and a customer-focused attention to personal detail is what tips the scales (scales, like on a fish…get it?).
Chef and owner Hajime Sato has dedicated Mashiko to being a fully sustainable sushi bar: fish and other products used in the sushi are all chosen with this concept in mind and often teaches food classes at Diane's Market Kitchen. You know your meal isn't only good for the environments but also that it's made from the highest quality ingredients. Try the noodle stir-fry in all its fat, chewy glory—white udon noodles are pan fried with bite-size pieces of teriyaki chickens, thin strips of carrots, and green onions.
Maneki is the last surviving restaurant from Seattle’s once bustling Japantown, so you know they must be doing something right. The family-owned restaurant has established itself as a local favorite. Fun—almost unbelievable—fact: in the 1930s, one of Maneki’s dishwashers was Takeo Miki, who later served as Japan’s prime minister. What’s even more unbelievable is how good Maneki’s sushi is.
On any given night at Umi, you're likely to find Seattle locals sitting cross-legged on wide cushions, sipping St. Germaine and Hibiscus-Sake cocktails while talking politics over Izakaya-style snacks. The pan-Asian fare ranges from remarkably fresh sushi and sashimi to cooked small plates like lobster tempura, but the beverage catalog is truly the restaurant's standout feature. Beyond the impressive list of sake, there are separate menus for house cocktails and champagne-based mixed drinks.
Kisaku means easy going, which is the ambiance you will have at this raw fish joint. Be sure to grab the Green Lake roll made of which has salmon, flying fish eggs, asparagus, avocado, and marinated seaweed.
Sushi and craft cocktails make a great pair at this Capitol Hill neighborhood eatery. Run by the President of the Washington State Bartender’s Guild/Vice President of the Washington Distillers’ Guild, this spot has a lot to live up to libation wise, and it delivers with a nice selection of well-made classic cocktails, house standards, and an extensive array of whiskey, vodka, tequila, and bourbon. Comfy couches make up for limited bar seating.
This tiny Phinney Ridge cafe specializes in sushi and unique Japanese desserts, but when all you want is to listen to the rain pound on the corrugated plastic patio roof or watch it spill down the storefront windows, the tempura udon soup is the way to go. Other traditional and untraditional offerings include soufflé chocolate, beef curry, and strawberry pannacotta.