Where to Eat Sushi in Philadelphia: The Ultimate Guide
Sushi in Philly? Yes. Because it's time that we started paying attention to something we've been doing really well for years.
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No, you’re right. Sushi isn’t really a thing we’re known for here in Philadelphia.
Crudo? Totally. I’m pretty sure they hand out plates of crudo to tourists at the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Like, “Here’s a plate of crudo, a confusing map to the Liberty Bell, and half a cheesesteak we dropped in a puddle on South Street.”
But no one comes here looking for sushi.
Which isn’t to say we don’t have any here. Philly has always had a sushi underground — mostly small, neighborhood joints slinging fish and sake and doing it quietly, under the radar, without much fanfare. There are a few exceptions (Royal Izakaya, Double Knot, and Zama come to mind), but mostly Philadelphians who want sushi have a restaurant or two they trust and don’t really go anywhere else.
But a whole collection of little neighborhood spots, doing really good, really interesting sushi kinda makes a scene, doesn’t it? Just one that’s a little tougher to see from the outside. So we’re here to help with this list of the best places to eat sushi in (and outside of) Philly. But let’s start with…
Sushi Restaurants You Must Try First
Royal Sushi and Izakaya, Queen Village
The front room is a riot: loud, crowded, full of people and Japanese bar food and anime showing on the brick walls. But in the back, Jesse Ito and his father Masaharu run a quiet, serene (and expensive) sushi bar that focuses on nightly omakase menus. It is probably the best sushi being done in Philly right now, but reservations can be tough to get so, you know, plan ahead. 780 South 2nd Street
Double Knot, Center City
Downstairs, in the basement space that made Double Knot famous, the kitchen runs a side-by-side-by-side menu of Asian small plates, robotayaki and sushi and sashimi. All of it (and I mean all of it) is amazing, but the coolest thing about the sushi here is the way it’s assembled — one element at a time, with a bold disregard for traditional rules. This makes for some interesting experiments, and makes things like a foie gras, miso, and rice pearl sushi possible. 120 South 13th Street
Oh, man. Fuji is kinda like Mecca for fans of Japanese food around here. It’s the place you gotta go to see it done right, in its best and purest expression. The kitchen does pretty much everything — from a long list of Japanese soups and small plates, to full-size entrees. But the sushi, sashimi and temaki are the big draw. Plus the specialty rolls (go for the Godzilla roll or some futomaki if you’re overwhelmed). If you haven’t been yet, go. If you have, go again. Fuji is proof that Philly really does have a sushi scene — but that it just happens to be in New Jersey. 116 Kings Highway
Bluefin, East Norriton, Exton, and Bala Cynwyd
Chef Yong Kim has three locations now: Bluefin in East Norriton, Bluefin in Exton, and B2 in Bala Cynwyd. This guy has been running some of the best Japanese restaurants and sushi bars in the area for almost 20 years, training the chefs who now run some of the city’s other best spots. The tuna sundaes, miso lobster mac and cheese, and miso sea bass are beloved modern and fusion dishes, but the traditional rolls here are examples of how sushi and sashimi, with their simplicity and spare presentation, demand the kind of excellence that can take a lifetime to master. 2820 Dekalb Pike, East Norriton; 401 City Avenue, Bala Cynwyd; 555 Wellington Square, Exton
When DaWa first opened, Fishtown freaked the eff out. Rightly so, too. It was the first decent sushi restaurant in a neighborhood that badly needed one, and its chef-owner, Joe Kim, sources great product and offers a relatively inexpensive omakase option.
Best Sushi in Queen Village and Washington Square West
Sometimes, in my dreams, I imagine a planet made of sushi. Kinda like Willy Wonka’s arboretum where everything was made of candy and Augustus Gloop ended up stuck in the pipe, only my version is made of raw fish and rice with a soy sauce river and mountains of wasabi. Anyway, Sushi Planet is nothing like that. But they’ve got this crazy menu where you can get things like sushi pizza and avocado and lobster salad wrapped up like a dumpling in a skin made of tuna. And that’s almost as good. 624 South 3rd Street
Fat Salmon, Center City
New School sushi right smack in the middle of Center City. Fat Salmon does specialty rolls — dozens of them, all with wacky names (Lipstick Trace, Seabreeze, Lost Rainbow) and smart combinations of flavors and textures. They do vegetarian sushi, nigiri, good gyoza and a bunch of different spicy rolls. But even the classic stuff is good, made with super-fresh ingredients and served in a lounge-y space with dim lights and (usually) lots of company. 719 Walnut Street
The space is industrial and the Angry Lobster is mango and avocado inside and lobster salad on top, all striped with hot sauce. And if that alone isn’t reason for you to check the place out, maybe you should just go back to eating your crudo. 341 South Broad Street
The place looks like a very small nightclub, has a weird name, and offers cheese fries on the menu (seriously — kimchi frites with sesame sauce and Whiz). But their sushi selection is also rather remarkable. People love the joint and swear by the kitchen’s specialty rolls. 262 South 10th Street
The onigiri and chirashi are pretty awesome, but it’s the classic sushi and sashimi and the musical-inspired creative custom rolls (like the School Of Rock with its mango, lime zest and creamy rock shrimp paste) that are the real draw at the WashWest BYOB. 1117 Locust Street
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a menu bigger than the one offered by Koto. Seriously, they’ve got everything from miso soup to Hawaiian poke, hibachi meals, bento boxes, yakitori, AND some of the best sushi in the neighborhood. The neighbors love this place because of the service, and because the prices run a little bit on the cheap side for fish of this quality. 719 Sansom Street
Best Sushi in Center City and Rittenhouse
Aki Nom Nom Sushi & Ramen
The name alone, right? You want to go there right now, I know. And yeah, the place does excellent Hakata-style ramen. But you know what else they do? An all-you-can-eat sushi and sashimi menu for $28.95. 1210 Walnut Street
For a long time, Zama was it in Philly when it came to modern, upscale sushi. And chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka has never stopped pushing the boundaries. He does collaborations with some of the best chefs in town and makes maki inspired by local ingredients and local celebrities. But at its core, Zama has always remained a serious Japanese restaurant with a solid menu of classics to ground the weirder flights of fancy coming from behind the sushi bar. 128 South 19th Street
Vic Sushi Bar, Rittenhouse
Vic is tiny, just a cramped counter and a few seats. But it’s busy, almost frantic, and fast. Because of the limited space, they do a lot of takeout orders, which is something you should definitely consider. But if you do manage to snag a seat, you’ll be in for a show, because the crew behind the bar never seem to stop moving. 2035 Sansom Street
It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but on the other side of the doors is a beautiful, long, bi-level space full of polished wood, red lights, karaoke rooms, and raw fish. There’s enough paneling in here to outfit a 1970’s time machine. And while the menu is primarily focused on traditional Japanese cuisine with a little bit of fusion on the side, the sushi menu is solid and legitimately awesome. Late-night hours are a bonus, too. 2030 Chestnut Street
I like the donburi and the chirashi, but the place is really known for its wacky specialty rolls — like the Sandwich Roll with tomato, mayo, cucumber and lettuce — or the fried banana roll. 1837 Chestnut Street
Yeah, this place was at the heart of Philly’s restaurant boom like three booms ago. And it still draws people to town even though it doesn’t get talked about or written about nearly as much as it used to. But that’s nuts. While the room might feel a bit dated, the sushi bar here is still incredible, offering some of the best, freshest fish in the city, cut by some of the most talented sushi chefs around. Plus, at lunch you can have virtually the entire place to yourself. 723 Chestnut Street
This place is pretty much the definition of a neighborhood sushi bar. A small counter with a half-dozen seats, a couple tables, and a couple guys behind the bar knocking out maki and hand rolls under the glow of neon lights. It’s cheap, fast, friendly, uncomplicated by gimmicks, and has always been one of my favorite sushi bars in town. 209 South 20th Street
Simple, small, straightforward and fast: that’s what Tsuki is all about. There’s nothing weird here, nothing shocking or groundbreaking. It’s just sushi treated like the fast-casual food that it is, done with competence and care. 2135 Walnut Street
Best Sushi in Old City, Society Hill, Chinatown and Spring Garden
Tuna Bar is a new-ish destination sushi restaurant and raw bar for Old City. Chef Kenneth Sze does omakase here, plus a full raw bar menu of sushi, sashimi, ceviches, crudo and tartares. It’s a sleek, modern spot, and has a full bar, sake and wine. 205 Race Street
It’s got milk tea, boba, fruit tea, sea salt froth tea, a bonkers selection of milkshakes, plus a full menu of traditional and specialty sushi rolls, including the Tuna Princess — spicy tuna and avocado topped with torched tuna au poivre, then topped again with honey wasabi and spicy mayo. So yeah, not exactly your quiet temple of Japanese gastronomy, but a lot of fun and a little bit overlooked besides. 909 Arch Street
Kisso Sushi Bar
This place has been around for more than 20 years. Seriously, just kinda hanging out there in Old City, serving a dedicated gang of regulars and neighbors who just know about the place because they know about it, you know? Kisso doesn’t get talked about much, but that’s kept it cool and uncrowded and special — a place for date nights, conversation, and appreciation of the serious Japanese food being put out by chef Alex Park and his crew. Don’t all of you go there at once and ruin the place, but if you happen to be in the neighborhood, this is definitely one that’s worth checking out. 205 North 4th Street
Tomo Sushi and Ramen
Calm, cool, unhurried, and with a good selection of maki and hand-rolls, plus a regular menu that’s full of ramen and Japanese snacks and entrees. It’s a fairly new place, but some of the opening crew came from Kisso, so that’s a good start. 228 Arch Street
Sakana Omakase Sushi
A 12-seat counter and two options: 12 courses for $58 or and epic 21-course dinner for $108. It’s weird to say that a $108 dinner is cheap, but for a huge, chef-driven prix fixe from a chef with 10 years of experience in Manhattan, it really kinda is. 616 South 2nd Street
Japanese-Korean fusion is totally a thing, and it’s fully on display at Doma in Spring Garden. It’s a beautiful, intimate space with these cool glass bubble hanging lights that make the air look carbonated. The sushi bar has some very cool specialty rolls that push the fusion even further with hits of Mexican, Latin and Szechuan flavors. 1822 Callowhill Street
Best Sushi in University City
Kevin Yanaga is a very talented sushi chef in Philly. He was the opening chef at Double Knot when Double Knot splashed onto the scene. Now, Yanaga runs the show at Pod, which means this 19 year old restaurant is better now than it’s ever been.
Best Sushi in NoLibs and Fairmount
Gorgeous food in a gorgeous space with a cool, quirky sense of humor when it comes to those showpiece specialty rolls. I mean seriously, how do you not love a place that’s got a “Designer Roll” named for the TV show Lost? The rest of the menu has wild strains of Spanish, Korean, and French influences running through it, but the sushi is either pure Japanese or purely weird. 533 North 22nd Street
Hikari is now under the command of 20-year veteran sushi chef Matthew Sim, who comes from Pod, Morimoto, B2, and elsewhere. He’s behind the bar now with one goal: to bring quality sushi to Northern Liberties, which is badly in need of just that kind of thing. 1040 North American Street
One half sushi bar, one half Korean BBQ. If that sounds like your kind of thing (and why wouldn’t it?), then Dasiwa is your perfect restaurant. 735 North 26th Street