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15 best Japanese restaurants in Boston

Japanese restaurants abound in Boston, transcending traditional sushi and omakase to contemporary izakayas and hibachi.

JQ Louise
Cheryl Fenton
Edited by
JQ Louise
Written by
Cheryl Fenton
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However you wish to experience the culinary offerings of Japan, there are plenty of restaurants in Boston that reflect everywhere from Tokyo to Sapporo, and all the small towns in between. There’s sushi and omakase, hearty ramen, contemporary izakayas (the Japanese version of small plates) and flavorful, interactive hibachi hubs—all of which provide an immersive overview of Japan’s rich food culture, especially when paired with sips of Japanese whiskey, beer or sake. And once you’ve explored the best Japanese restaurants in Boston, check out other regional Asian cuisine at the best Thai restaurants in Boston or the best Chinese restaurants in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Best Japanese restaurants in Boston

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Leather District
  • price 4 of 4

Clear out your bank account and then clear your weekend, because o ya’s singular dining experience is one to be savored. Owners Tim and Nancy Cushman set a new bar for special-event dining with o ya’s opening in 2007; even today the restaurant regularly wins accolades as one of the best restaurants in all of New England. The a la carte sushi is a marvel of both flavor and presentation, but if you’re really looking to splurge, settle in for the nightly omakase, a chef’s choice menu of 20 courses, from nigiri to cooked dishes.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Back Bay
  • price 4 of 4

Uni built its reputation on incredible sashimi and izakaya offerings, and the menu still shines, plating up the freshest ingredients from Maine Uni to local Unagi. Though Uni has mastered the classics, they aren’t afraid to experiment and impart new flavors in dishes that change with the season (past highlights have included coconut, passion fruit and watermelon). The sake list is impressive as well, with numerous unfiltered and unpasteurized options.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • South End
  • price 4 of 4

This swanky South End sushi spot is high-concept and high-priced, but worth it for the luxe interpretations of Japanese specialties. Creative sushi rolls feature ingredients such as truffle, caviar, microgreens and delicate sauces. Entrées includes teriyaki ribeye, lamb chop, seafood risotto and Chilean sea bass, and noodles are ordered solo or bathed in hearty soups. Put your faith in the chef for the six or nine-course tasting menu, with optional additions of truffle and Japanese A5 Wagyu steak. There’s also more than 50 sakes and cocktails, including the smoking “Yuzu Spirit,” made with ginza suzume soju and liquid nitrogen.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • South End
  • price 2 of 4

With only two nightly seatings and nine seats at the tasting counter, act fast to scoop up a reservation for this coveted omakase experience. Tucked behind Chef Colin Lynch’s speakeasy-esque tiki bar and restaurant Shore Leave, upon check-in, you will be whisked to the back room that houses No Relation for your 6pm or 8:30pm time to dine. Come hungry and ready to feast upon the 14 dishes expertly prepared in front of you, with the option to add on a sake pairing to complete the experience.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Somerville
  • price 2 of 4

In the heart of Davis Square, Tsurumen’s pride and joy is their steaming bowl of Osaka-style ramen. The intimate restaurant typically accrues a line, but it’s worth the wait. Fresh ramen, tender pork, and flavorful broth anchor each bowl. Tsurumen opened in Boston with the goal to only operate for 1000 days, however, in July of 2021, the team announced it was here to stay, with a new goal: to become “the King of Ramen shops.”

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • price 2 of 4

This tiny, underground gem in Coolidge Corner is the perfect setting for traditional Japanese fare. The menu—written in both Japanese and English—isn’t simplified for the American palate. While sushi is an option, their take on Donburi (traditional Kaiseki cuisine) is a must-try, including Katsu Donburi (deep fried black pork loin with egg and vegetables) as well as their Udon and Soba noodle dishes.

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  • Restaurants
  • Pan-Asian

With a backdrop of waterfront views, the interior of Encore Boston Harbor’s Mystique is a sexy space with a menu that follows suit. With carefully-crafted robata grills (hello, avocado bomb), sushi selections and an array of dishes like tik tok chicken, A5 Miyazaki Wagyu sirloin and Singapore street noodles, it puts a modern spin on traditional pan-Asian delicacies. The beverage selection boasts a distinctive sake selection, unique hand-crafted cocktails, and special large format "party drinks" perfect for sharing.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Fenway/Kenmore
  • price 3 of 4
  • Recommended

This hip izakaya in The Verb Hotel serves Japanese tavern-style fare with craft beers and frozen cocktails.The rock ‘n roll vibe is strong (as is the sake program) and gives a nod (or more of a head bang) to the pulse of Japan with sushi, a robata-grilled yakitori and street food small plates. All levels of culinary adventure are satisfied, with dishes such as funky chicken ramen, Peruvian marinated Wagyu short rib, chicken katsu rice and shrimp toast. Dig into a full robata-grilled hamachi fish, when available.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Central Sq
  • price 3 of 4

Recently named by the James Beard Foundation as 2023 semi-finalist for Outstanding Restaurant, Chef Tracy Chang’s skills shine. Her famed Guchi’s Midnight Ramen (featuring flavorful broth, pork belly, umami oil, nori, and a six-minute egg) is on the menu alongside modern Japanese-fusion small plates. Start with a Japanese-inspired cocktail or sake, then try salmon ceviche and squid ink unagi bao, before bellying up to the suckling pig or roasted big eye tuna collar (both of which serve up to six people). The dessert menu offers unique treats such as matcha cookies and black sesame tofu with tea syrup and tofu foam.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • price 3 of 4

This Brookline standby is always packed, and for good reason. Sit in a booth, a table, the tatami room, or the sushi bar and choose from an extensive menu of standard and creative sushi offerings. Go traditional (rich salmon sashimi), daring (foie gras nigiri with spicy daikon radish, scallion, sesame, and ponzu sauce), or cute (ladybug maki contains spicy seafood salad and sweet potato tempura inside, cherry tomato and black tobiko outside). There’s also mouthwatering rice dishes, like the lump crab fried rice and the veg katsu curry–so this spot is sure to satiate any sort of specialized craving. There’s also a Sudbury location for those west of the city.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Porter Sq
  • price 2 of 4

This cozy haunt in Cambridge is everything you envision when it comes to Japanese noodles and ramen. Huge bowls feature thick, house-made noodles, and your only choice is whether you want two pieces of pork or five. You’ll receive a hearty Japanese congratulations if you manage to finish your bowl. Communal tables encourage chatting with strangers. The restaurant’s name means “talk about your dreams,” and you may even be asked to share yours out loud with everyone.

  • Restaurants
  • Peruvian
  • Downtown
  • price 4 of 4

Following a history of Japanese tradition and Chinese favorites influencing Modern Peruvian cuisine, Ruka presents this combination to great success, from chilled dishes such as Japanese salad with hūka-fū dressing and their hamachi ceviche (charred jalapeno, coconut, leche de tigre, avocado, okinawan chips and sushi rice) to hot dishes like yakitori bar ‘shrooms, yucca wasabi puffs and pork belly buns. Enhancing the experience are cocktails made with both Japanese whiskeys and Peruvian piscos.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Fenway/Kenmore
  • price 3 of 4

Situated inside the Four Seasons One Dalton, this spot attracts diners for its global reputation, with locations from the Maldives to Mykonos. The interiors are super sleek interiors, and the modern-Japanese menu serves in izakaya style out of three kitchens: the main, the sushi counter and the robata grill. Some menu items rely on local specialities, including the ise ebi no oven yaki (1.5lb of roasted Boston lobster with shiso ponzu butter), while there are also brand classics like their special maki and nigiri variations.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese

There’s something indescribable about watching your food be prepared in front of you over a blazing hot fire, while you sip a frosty Sapporo or Japanese cocktail with plum wine. Hibachi, literally meaning fire bowl in Japanese, evolved from its traditional use as a heating device to a style of dining experience that’s interactive for any guest, but especially entertaining for large parties. For the latter, reserve a table at their Chestnut Hill location for the ultimate group gathering, from corporate events to birthday dinners.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • South End
  • price 3 of 4

Unexpectedly set in the Back Bay, elegant nooks, sleek lighting and a loungey vibe set the stage for standout sushi and cocktails. The extensive maki list includes classic rolls such as rainbow and spider, as well as unique offerings like its neighborhood namesake, Backbay (asparagus, cucumber, and avocado wrapped with seared tuna) as well as the Douzo Special (shrimp tempura, seafood salad, tobiko, eel sauce, sriracha and avocado, wrapped with tuna and soy paper). The toro (fatty tuna) is not to be missed, and you can also choose from skewers, udon, ramen and a selection of rice dishes. Lunch brings an additional variety of bento specials and donburi.

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