Top Sushi Joints

From San Francisco to sushi's motherland, check out the best sushi restaurants around the world
 Artful presentation enhances unique flavor combinations


Check out this feature in our newly released April issue of Exec Digital!

We’ve all heard the friend returning from an international business trip raving about the “Best. Sushi. Ever.” A mind-blowing sushi experience is so personal, with so many factors shaping the intimate sensory experience, we’re tempted to ask: What is it that makes sushi really unforgettable? What makes that particular sushi roll or hole-in-the-wall spot stand out in a diner’s mind?

Even with the freshest fish, exquisitely prepared rice and perfect ratio of ingredients, diners might be further impressed by the quality of service, chef’s knife skills, décor or presentation. However it comes together, a thoughtful combination of factors clicks to form the perfect recipe, and it’s not just on the plate.

With a disclaimer that a best-sushi-joints list is difficult to compile on an international scale and a nod to the countless sushi chefs worthy of recognition, here are Exec Digital’s top sushi recommendations, guaranteed to result in a toe-tingling sushi experience.

Sushi Ran, San Francisco

Ranked among the top five sushi restaurants in the neighborhood that fostered America’s initial interest in sushi culture, Sushi Ran is up against some stiff competition in the City by the Bay. Owner and chef Yoshi Tome, an Okinawa native, serves up tantalizing Japanese and Pacific fusion dishes, creating unique and mouthwatering flavor combinations.

Nigiri and sashimi are artistically presented with delicate herbs and sprouts perched atop miniature towers of layered ingredients, melding visual appeal with luscious and surprising tastes. The unbeatable quality of the dishes has earned the restaurant a Michelin star, among other awards, and a steadfast reputation as a local favorite.

All that good eating is sure to bring on a powerful thirst and every delicious roll deserves an equally delectable drink pairing. If your thirst isn’t quenched by the 30 types of sake on the menu, explore Sushi Ran’s 300+ bottle wine list, a masterpiece in its own right and winner of a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. At Sushi Ran, the drinks, the food and the presentation are sure to please.

Isami, Paris

When travelers think good sushi, Paris is not the first metropolitan center to spring to mind and instead has earned a (most likely well-deserved) reputation of disastrous forays into Japanese cuisine. But if a sushi craving happens to strike in the City of Love, there is hope: Isami has earned a spot as a top sushi restaurant worldwide.

Paris, in its own right, is known as a city with a taste for gastronomical delicacies. When international travelers are weary of frog legs and escargot, Isami guests  sample unique Japanese flavors like “foie de lotte,” or monkfish liver, alongside freshly-prepared sashimi and sushi.

Isami has a storied history: renowned Japanese actress Keiko Kishi dined at the spot for years and it has become a popular stop for visiting Japanese tourists. What Isami lacks in marketing – it has yet to post a web site – it has made up in praise through word of mouth, awards and reviewer mentions. With impeccable service and a cozy atmosphere, Isami offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience: really, where else can you enjoy a bite of sushi with a view of the Siene?

Matsuhisa, Beverly Hills

Proclaimed by food critics as the “best sushi outside of Japan,” Matsuhisa uses unbeatably fresh seafood, including rare and hard-to-find varieties of fish. Chef Nobu Matsuihisa, known as one of the world’s leading chefs, is often found at the restaurant greeting guests. While his trendier restaurant, Nobu, operated with co-owner Robert De Niro, has become an established favorite of Malibu’s elite, this lesser-frequented location is quickly becoming a celebrity hot spot. 

At Matsuhisa, Japanese dishes are prepared to incorporate a taste of Peru, creating unique Latin-Asian flavors. Here, the fresh, light ingredients are infused with a special touch. As Chef Matsuhisa says, “I always put something special in my food – my heart, or kokoro as we say in Japanese.” Whatever he’s adding to the sushi is working, and diners keep coming back for more.

Sushi Mizutani, Tokyo

As the high-end best-of sushi choice in Japan’s bustling capital, reservations are required months in advance for a chance to dine at Sushi Mizutani. Little English is spoken and payment is cash-only. The entire restaurant seats only 10 at a time and prices are notoriously steep, but trust us. It’s worth it: Tokyo’s Michelin Guide has awarded Sushi Mizutani three of its coveted stars.

Located on the 9th floor of Ginza’s Juno building, Sushi Mizutani is a small, family-run operation. Owner and chef Mizutani regales diners with tales while his wife serves sushi that has been praised the world over. Look for a menu and you’ll be disappointed – the chef is confident diners will be pleased by his choices. His reverence for traditional preparation methods and perfectly prepared vinegared rice, shari, lays the foundation for truly exquisite sushi.

This award-winning kitchen is great for celebrating an anniversary or special occasion and if your travel schedule permits, Sushi Mizutani cannot be beat for forging lasting business relationships. 

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