Raw fish and vinegar-rich rice are two simple ingredients that revolutionized the worldwide food industry. Nowadays it’s a bit more complex than just a means of preserving fish in fermented rice. It’s an art form for the master itamaes who spend decades perfecting the craft of sushi-making.
You’ll see these chefs at a number of sushi bars that dot the Miami landscape. But with so many fish-focused eateries, which ones are a cut above the rest?
Below, listed alphabetically, are the ten best places to get sushi in Miami, from out-of-this-world omakase (chef’s choice) menus to wildly creative sushi rolls to plump hand rolls and freshly sliced sashimi for every palate and budget — all available without a passport.
Because days and hours of operation are subject to change amid the persistence of the coronavirus, we have opted not to list that information, nor details such as reservation requirements. It's always best to call before you head out.
Makoto9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour
An ultrachic vibe and A-list clientele might yield comparisons to Nobu, Katsuya, Naoe, and other swank spots in Miami, but Makoto sets the gold standard for sushi. Led by Iron Chef alum Makoto Okuwa, Stephen Starr’s Bal Harbour restaurant is faultless in its preparation and presentation of immaculate cuts of sushi and innovative interpretations of the chef's native cuisine. Maki roll highlights include soft-shell crab tempura ($17) with tobiko, avocado, scallion, and asparagus; and the Vegan Stephen ($14), packed with tempura zucchini, avocado, roasted red pepper, eggplant, and kanpyo squash. Regardless of your choice, the sushi and sashimi come vibrant and fresh — a stark contrast to the dark hues of the décor.
Naoe661 Brickell Key Dr., Miami
Kevin Cory is your host and sushi chef at this intimate restaurant named on Forbes Travel Guide's "Five-Star" list. This reservation-only spot serves omakase dinners using fish flown in overnight from Japan. The chef's-choice menu ($250 per person plus 20 percent service charge and sales tax) takes two to three hours to savor, and people allergic to mushrooms, eggs, seaweed, fish, shellfish, rice, raw foods, vinegar, smoked foods, alcohol, salt, sugar, legumes, nuts, seeds, or gluten cannot be accommodated. Otherwise, relax and enjoy the ride. Everything — from the sake to the wasabi — is made with meticulous care. Reservations are required, and children under 12 are not permitted. The restaurant offers two seatings, at 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and the restaurant's current dining capacity is six people per seating.
Nobu Miami4525 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Despite the sprawling space, Nobu Matsuhisa's restaurant is surprisingly intimate. The menu offers an expansive list of expertly curated nigiri that ranges from Japanese red snapper ($8) to A5 Wagyu beef ($38 per ounce). Better yet, let the chef choose your dinner with a full-blown omakase experience ($150 and up).
Pubbelly SushiVarious locations
The Pubbelly Boys continue to make a splash with their sushi stunner, Pubbelly Sushi. They take classics such as tempura shrimp to new heights and present a rock shrimp tempura roll with avocado, mango, and tuna tartare, smothered in tobanjan aioli. Other next-level rolls include a Wagyu beef tartare roll with avocado, gochujang mustard, and a poached egg, and the "I Am Salmon", made with salmon, shichimi soy paper, chives, red onion, and wasabi aioli.
Sushi by Bou1116 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach
Michael Sinensky and Erika London's company Simple Venue partnered with chef David Bouhadana to open a four-seat sushi bar inside Gianni Versace's former mansion. Land a hard-to-get reservation and you'll enjoy an hourlong omakase experience that could include skipjack tuna crowned with shredded ginger and chive, Santa Barbara sea urchin, or fatty tuna with pickled fresh wasabi. It's the chef's choice, so sit back and enjoy. Don't forget to pay a visit to Mr. Sake, a vending machine that offers three-ounce pours of rare varieties for $10 each.
Sushi Erika1700 John F. Kennedy Cswy., Suite 100, North Bay Village
Sushi chef Erika Kushi is basically a one-woman show at her intimate North Bay Village sushi bar. Kushi celebrates the legacy of her father, Michio Kushi of Sushi Deli fame by serving the freshest sushi imaginable at ultra-reasonable prices. Everything is bright and flavorful, including an octopus tiradito ($13.95) and tuna tartare ($8.95).
Sushi Garage1784 West Ave., Miami Beach
Favorites at the Sunset Harbour spot include a vegan option in the lemon vegetarian roll, made with cucumber, avocado, micro arugula, crispy shallots, and holy yuzu mustard ($13); a rosemary eel roll with avocado and rosemary aioli ($14); and the Garage bagel roll, packed with salmon, cream cheese, crisped capers, onions, chives, and furikake seasoning ($11).
Wabi Sabi by Shuji851 NE 79th St., Miami
Shuji Hiyakawa serves basic, ingredient-based Japanese sushi bowls, such as the Wabi Sabi, filled with tuna, salmon, crab, tobiko, cucumber, avocado, seaweed, and shiitake mushrooms. In addition, find daily specials, cooked fish, and six flavors of mochi ice cream, including matcha green tea and salted caramel.
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Yakko-San3881 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach
The days of Hiro’s Yakko-San’s original, unassuming 65-seater on West Dixie Highway are long gone, but since opening, the much larger, more refined location on 163rd Street has become a go-to spot for late-night dining in North Miami Beach. Chef Hiroshi Shigetomi translates the same creativity and deliciousness to an upgraded menu, which also includes a full liquor list and sushi component. The crispy bok choy ($7.50), deep-fried and served with garlic-soy dressing, is a must-eat appetizer. If you don’t know whether to try the hamachi tataki jalapeño roll ($13.50), made with eel, avocado, cucumber, and tempura flakes, or the rainbow roll ($12), a trifecta of tuna, salmon, and shrimp, order both and take your time.
Zuma270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami
An izakaya that serves much more than sushi in the form of edible art, Zuma offers a flavorful fine-dining experience with robata-grilled plates and full-bodied lobster and steak dishes. Dining at the Epic Hotel’s ground-floor eatery can leave a big hole in your wallet, so make the most of your visit by going for weekend brunch. Ninety-eight bucks (or more depending upon which buffet option you choose) gets you downtown’s freshest sashimi and sushi. Delight in rolls containing Alaskan king crab, spicy tuna, freshwater eel, and yellowtail, to name a few. Other Asian-inspired dishes and delectable desserts are can’t-misses as well, but the main event is sushi. So keep your eyes on the prize.