Best sushi in Philadelphia
Located in Philadelphia’s Historic District since 2001, Morimoto is an institution among Philadelphia’s movers and shakers. The fashionable spot is a collaboration between James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. In less adept hands, the high-design décor and changing-color booths might overpower the dining experience, but Chef Morimoto delivers food that is innovative, elegant and unforgettable. Tasting menus ranging from $45 to $150 per person offer delicious ways to sample multiple dishes.
The main level of Double Knot functions as a cozy café, but Philly’s sushi connoisseurs know to expect more than coffee and pastries at this Midtown Village outpost. Downstairs, a dimly lit dining room serves a Japanese menu complete with sushi, sashimi, meaty entrees and creative sides. Specialties include the crowd-pleasing edamame dumplings, a Philly-inspired duck scrapple bao bun and the signature Big Eye Tuna roll. Behind the bar, unique cocktails incorporate Japanese components like yuzu, Japanese plums and cherry blossoms.
Identified by only a blue door and a red lantern, Royal Izakaya isn’t easy to find, but those who do are in for quite a treat. This tiny spot on South Second Street churns out stellar Japanese cuisine that ranges from preparations of unexpected elements like pork jowl and chicken gizzard to standby favorites like yellowtail and mackerel. Tucked behind the main dining room, a ten-seat bar focuses exclusively on sushi from Chef Jesse Ito. Open until 2am, the Bella Vista hotspot also draws a solid late-night crowd.
James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr’s University City sushi spot is the place to be for mod décor, colorful cocktails and world-class bites. The menu includes soups, salads, skewers, dim sum and—of course—loads of sushi options. Diners love grabbing their dishes from a rotating conveyor belt, adding an extra dose of fun to an already lively meal. Experienced Pod patrons know to save room for dessert, which includes sweet options like black sesame cheesecake and marshmallow-stuffed spring rolls.
At Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s Rittenhouse Square-adjacent sushi spot, patrons can choose from more than 30 à-la-carte options for sashimi as well as several maki rolls, tempura, salads, dumplings, meat and vegetable dishes. A full bar offers cocktails, wine and beer, alongside 15-plus types of sake served by the glass, carafe or bottle. For a truly decadent meal, order one of the chef’s tasting menus, which range from $55 to $100 per person.
This intimate dinner-only sushi spot on East Passyunk Avenue serves dishes that are fresh, delicate and creative. Salmon, tuna and a variety of other fish and seafood are flown in daily, and regular customers crave specialties like the rock shrimp tempura and the caterpillar roll (spicy salmon, asparagus, avocado and eel sauce). Like the food, the décor is refined and elegant, offering a low-key respite in one of Philadelphia’s trendiest foodie neighborhoods. Don’t forget to pick up drinks before dinner, as Izumi is BYOB.
From Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka, the highly lauded talent behind Rittenhouse Row’s Zama, CoZara brings small-plate Japanese cuisine to University City. Alongside yakitori, spring rolls, tempura and noodles, the menu includes sushi specialties like the UPenn Roll and the Drexel Dragon Roll, which pay homage to the neighborhood’s nearby institutions. Happy hour is particularly lively here thanks to deep discounts on food and drinks, including a “big ol’ bowl” of chicken wings and a pitcher of Yuengling for just $15.
This sleek, dimly lit Center City gem has been a Philly favorite since it opened its doors as a freewheeling, BYOB spot in 2007. There’s now a full bar, but the sushi counter’s creative spirit remains evident in funky house rolls such as the Sea Breeze (tempura mussels with salmon, avocado and spicy mayo) and the Mr. French Kiss (shrimp, bacon and onion tempura with spicy crab stick). The pork katsu, a plate-sized cutlet pounded thin, breaded and deep-fried, is like the best Japanese wiener schnitzel you’ll ever stick a fork into.
A popular go-to option for sit-down dining, takeout and delivery, Sumo Sushi is known for its consistently delicious, modern takes on traditional sushi dishes. Rolls like the Mango Tango (spicy yellowtail tuna, avocado and fresh mango) and the Sumo Special Roll (crunchy tuna, salmon, tellowtail, white fish, eel and avocado) make this Center City restaurant unique, but patrons also rave about classics like the spicy tuna and California rolls. Sumo Sushi is BYOB, so pick up drinks on the way if you’re planning to dine on site.
It’s no match for heavy hitters like Morimoto and Zama, but Hai Street Kitchen isn’t trying to compete with fine dining options; Hai Street does its own thing, and it does it well. Patrons at this fast-casual spot create their own sushi burritos and bowls by choosing from a range of rice varieties, proteins, veggies and sauces. The concept restaurant’s success has enabled Hai Street Kitchen to expand operations to include four Philly-area storefronts, a food truck and two locations in New York City.