Don’t settle for bullet-hard nigiri on a black plastic tray – we’ve chopsticked our way through the best sushi restaurants London has to offer. So whether you're looking for a healthy restaurant option or a bit of a splurge, you'll find it here, Japanese-style. Do you agree with our list? Tell us your favourite sushi bars in the comments below, or tweet us your suggestions.
The best sushi restaurants in London
The sushi counter that flanks this traditional Japanese restaurant takes its art seriously: expect platters of thick, glistening slices of fish, beautifully presented with slivers of vegetables and dots of wasabi, or cut rolls tightly wrapped with nori and heaped with coral-pink tarako and a quail’s egg yolk – one of many chef’s specials. Sushi connoisseurs are welcome to go off-menu here – if you know your stuff, the chefs won’t be fazed. To drink, delve into the impressive saké list.
The Nobu alumni behind this converted townhouse are skilled boundary blurrers: at the ground-floor sushi counter, the chefs fuse Modern European and traditional Japanese styles to eye-opening effect, while service is relaxed enough (by Japanese standards) to put gaijins at ease. They like their high-end ingredients here, so expect the bill to reflect your consumption of wagyu beef, foie gras and caviar. However, showier elements are underpinned by excellent fundamentals (that rice!), and the theatre of the experience is free.
Venue says: “Located in the heart of Mayfair, Ikeda is a traditional Japanese restaurant, serving up cuisine in an exclusive, fine-dining setting.”
This old-school venue may be approaching 40 years in the business, but it’s still got it: its commitment to quality and consistency over jumping onto passing bandwagons has made it a solid destination for smart dinners and business lunches. The sushi selection includes ingredients that are light-years from your local Pret: hokki clam and sea urchin are among the spanking fresh catches of the day. For a gourmet, no-gimmicks sushi experience, Ikeda is hard to beat.
Venue says: “We offer two lunch bento boxes for only £15 and £25, from noon-4pm on weekdays only!”
If Oliver Maki were your date, you’d describe him as fit, if a bit try-hard – but you wouldn’t forget him. In fact, this sleek, heavily stylised Japanese fusion restaurant is more than worth your time: staff are charming, the portions are sensible, and the flavours in signature dishes such as shiromi yuzu tomato – a beautifully balanced combination of white fish sashimi, tomato and truffle, atop shiso-flavoured granita – remarkable. Some things need improvement, but who’s perfect? Don’t swipe left.
Roka is… very Zuma (it’s part of the same company). And that, for sushi aficionados, is the gold seal of approval. But elegantly presented platters of sushi and sashimi are just one of the delicacies on offer at this izakaya-that-married-well – so splash out on the tasting menu for the full Roka experience. As well as robata-grilled specialities and show-stealing desserts, the menu includes the likes of fancy-pants wagyu sushi with caviar, and perfectly fresh yellowtail sashimi with yuzu-truffle dressing.
This Soho restaurant is split into two parts: a sushi bar dominates the front of the venue, while in the smart, warmly lit dining room at the back, there’s a wider selection of traditional restaurant dishes. But it’s the sushi that hooks us: the fish is of superb quality, and the specials menu presents more than the usual suspects, all prepared as nigiri, maki temaki, chirashi or sashimi. Meaty versions of sashimi, from wagyu to pork belly, are tasty diversions.
Jason Atherton’s restaurants feature on a LOT of ‘best’ lists; his pimped-up izakaya was clearly among the capital’s big-league Japanese restaurants from the outset. Every plate scores a perfect ten for beauty and flavour, the dining room is special-occasion smart, service is incredible – hell, even the loo seats are pre-warmed. The sushi is predictably excellent: the open tuna temaki (a gourmet Japanese taco – miss it at your peril) demonstrates the kitchen’s ability to walk the tightrope between tradition and innovation.
This fishmonger and sushi bar is celebrated for the still-flapping freshness of its fish and its customer-friendly prices. The light, neat, nondescript dining room recalls a hotel lobby, and boasts perhaps the only bare-brick walls left in London that haven’t been deliberately scuffed into trendiness. The sushi, however, is anything but bland – order the expertly prepared lesser-spotted fish varieties for proof. For a more central sushi fix, try the company’s bar and takeaway in Marylebone.
We all know sushi is expensive. And sushi in the City? Even more. We’re also aware that anywhere with decent views of London will shamelessly hike up its prices. But when your wallet is feeling fat, the sushi at this Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian showstopper in the Heron Tower won’t leave you feeling short-changed. The signature ‘samba roll’ selection, with its neat morsels of pristine fish, will turn your attention momentarily from the skyline to your dinner: no mean feat.
Anyone wanting a reservation at this seven-seater sushi bar needs three things: the ability to follow detailed instructions, other-worldly patience, and the cash to splash when their time comes. For this husband-and-wife operation competes with the best sushi bars in Tokyo, let alone London. Each mouthful is prepared by hand in front of you by the owner: the glistening grains of rice are the perfect texture, temperature and flavour; the shimmering slivers of superlative fish only minimally seasoned. Sushi heaven.
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Rainer Becker and Arjun Waney - the guys behind this impressive Aldwych restaurant and bar - clearly know a thing or two about high-end modern-Japanese dining. This branch is one of four Rokas now in London, and then there's the excellent Zuma, too - the group's flagship restaurant now daddy to a host of similarly swanky outposts all over the globe. This branch continues the Roka focus on contemporary Japanese cooking, with the authentic robata grill once again playing a central role. Signature dishes here include pure Japanese wagyu beef tartare with smoked soya sauce, wasabi and nori crackers, and skewers of langoustine and cod cheek with shiso and ume boshi. Sushi and sashimi proves popular, too. The drinks list majors on wines from the old world and new, as well as a pretty serious sake selection - there are ten available by the glass or carafe, as well as a fair few rare finds by the bottle. Signature cocktails (think the Roka negroni, made with rose petal gin, Aperol, plum sake and peach bitters) do brisk business, alongside an extensive list of shochu - all housed in custom-made display walls. Very pretty.
Venue says: “Roka is a place where food and drinks are shared with friends, and heat, warmth and an all-embracing energy abound.”