Top 6 Sushi Spots in Philly
If you don’t know by now that I LOVE sushi, you must not know me at all! Sad :/ Sushi is soooo good, BUT, truth be told, I wasn’t a sushi lover from the start.
I remember one late afternoon in high school, my mom brought home groceries from Wegmans and one of the items she snagged was a California roll. It looked really good – nice, bright colors and fresh! I eagerly took a piece, but right then and there I was like “OH MY GOD. What am I eating?!” (Funny story, my dad wouldn’t even look at it, let alone touch or eat it!) The textures were grossing me out and the smell of the imitation crab had me nauseous. Guess what? Hours later I was vomiting and NOT because of the sushi (my mom and brother were fine), but I had the stomach bug. So for months (yes months, this isn’t an exaggeration) after that experience the thought of sushi grossed me the heck out!
Thennnn came freshman year of college and this is where my love for sushi began. I met a guy (classic) and he loved sushi. And don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT one of those people who do, eat, like, something because of someONE. BUT he would always order it or get take-out and constantly seeing it made me want to try again. So…. I did! And THIS time I loved it!
Fast forward 7 years (holy crap 7 years??????) and I’d now consider myself a sushi connoisseur. I seek out the best sushi every time I travel, but to be honest, I get asked SO often “where can I eat the best sushi in Philly?” Oui la this article is for all of you inquisitive peeps!
As you may have read on my Instagram, this year I will be publishing a, “Top ___ List” in alllllll different areas each month. I’m thinking February should be “Molly’s Top 5 Must-Have Everyday Beauty Products.” Or would you rather skincare? Or a combination of both?! Thoughts??? Let me know in the comments!
Okay back to regularly scheduled programing… find my favorite PHILLY SUSHI SPOTS BELOW!
(the following restaurants are in no specific order)
1) Tuna Bar $$$ – Classy, elegant, regal. Those are the vibes you’ll immediately pick up on as soon as you step foot into owner, Ken ___’s gorgeous sushi restaurant. Tuna Bar has a stunning interior design that is warm, yet masculine. The massive leather booths, eye-catching all-wood bar, and west-elm-like lighting create an ambiance unlike any other in Philly. Besides my love for their interior design, the sushi quality at Tuna Bar can’t be beat, and that is the reason they make my top 6 list. As Ken explained he doesn’t settle for mediocre fish. He receives fish flown in from Japan, he goes to the market himself to pick up unique items, and he oversees every item his loyal (and new) customers enjoy on a regular basis. It probably goes without saying, but Ken’s tuna is the best I’ve ever had. (Hence the name of his restaurant – so on brand!) Oh and if you’re into drink other than vodka sodas (no judgement) you’ll absoulutely want to peruse his cocktail list. My brother, Max, and I tried out three of them and each were delish! See my favorites from Tuna Bar below:
The Race Street
Wok Kampachi Ceviche
Fried Brussels Sprouts
Miso Soup (always)
Broad Street (still dreaming about this roll, TBH)
Maguro Sushi (SO GOOD!!!!)
Yellowtail & Chives
2) Fat Salmon $$ – This restaurant will forever hold a special place in my heart. Daniel and I shared our first date at Fat Salmon’s sushi bar back in 2014 and then each anniversary we make our way back there to celebrate. I tell all of my friends it’s such a great spot for a first date (or, like in my case with Daniel, a 500thdate!) because it gives off the romantic vibes without it being too much. The dimly lit and tinted blue lights really give Fat Salmon its signature look. Also, this is so not a big deal, but something I really appreciate: Fat Salmon has staff who serve JUST water. How much do you hate when all you want is for your waiter to refill your glass, but they’re busy with 13 other tables?? Yeah, same. Well, you won’t be waiting more than 60 seconds at Fat Salmon because this intimate space has quite a few “water servers” working at a time. Their specialty rolls are SO good, but guess what? So are their traditional rolls which I really appreciate. Places that have so many specialty rolls with a billion sauces and toppings scream “cover up for the crappy fish!” but I ensure you that ISN’T the case with Fat Salmon. And similarly to Tuna Bar having their best fish in the name of their restaurant, the most tasty fish you’ll find on this menu is absolutely their salmon. It melts in our mouths every time we’re there! See my favorites from Fat Salmon below:
Miso Soup (duh)
3) Umai Umai $$ – Nestled in the quaint Fairmont neighborhood this place is a BYOB gem. I personally love BYO’s not to necessarily save money on alcohol (although that IS nice), but to be able to guarantee I can drink what I love most. (For friends reading, I love a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and my birthday is in September, hehe!) So what sets Umai Umai apart from the rest? The quality and the service. I have eaten at Umai Umai at least five times and I’m not amplifying the truth, every single time I have had the most informative, kind, patient, and attentive waiter or waitress. I can’t say that about most restaurants!! As for the quality, everything just tastes so fresh!!! I realllly appreciate that. And fun fact! Their fish shipment from Japan comes in every Tuesday so I definitely eating there on a Tuesday or Wednesday night to ensure the best experience possible. PS There are of course other byo sushi places in the city, one in particular that’s actually quite popular for God knows why (it sucks in my opinion), but don’t expect the same excellence that Umai Umai provides. See my favorites from Umai Umai below:
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Salad
Miso Soup (yes…seriously…)
Traffic light (So, so, so good!! I sub the crab for raw salmon FYI)
Eternal Sunshine (I also subbed here, too! I requested yellowtail instead of the crispy escolar)
4) Morimoto $$$$ – Find me someone who disagrees with Morimoto being on the top 6 list, I dare you. What’s cool about this place is that the modern, futuristic décor gives this restaurant a little edge on other Philly spots, plus the menu is not traditional. You’ll find yourself choosing between lots of Asian fusion dishes. Wasabi fried rice? Yeah not typical, but SO good. I crave it on the daily. Also, their toro scallion is the most delicious toro I think I’ve ever had. When Daniel and I eat there we always make up a, “no talking while eating toro” rule because it’s THAT good. That’s where all of our focus needs to go, haha! Morimoto also has the same quality for their takeout which I think is very telling of a restaurant. This isn’t a random Monday night sushi stop though, since it is a little pricey plan this dinner for a date night, special occasion, you get the point. Oh and make a reservation!!! See my favorites from Morimoto below:
Lychee & Fig
Tuna Pizza (!!!!)
Wasabi Fried Rice (So good!)
Miso Soup (alwayssss)
(Also their Chilean Sea Bass in INCREDIBLE)
5. Bleu Sushi $$ - This restaurant is right around the corner from Jefferson University so most days/nights you’ll find a younger crowd filling up the place. Alsooo because Bleu Sushi is BYO - people love that sh!t. I’ll be honest, the interior design isn’t anything to gawk at, but the extremely kind management and fish quality are reasons enough why this place lands on my top 6 list. Before partnering with Bleu for some sponsored IG posts + Insta Giveaway Daniel and I would dine there (it’s literally two blocks from his apt) and after our sushi meal concluded the manager or owner would always give us a complimentary dessert to thank us for being loyal customers. You’ll never see this happen at some of the bigger restaurants. It was special and really appreciated by us! Now for the fish… Bleu has the best of both worlds. Traditional rolls AND crazy, fabulous ones! Their salmon is delicious, I especially love their torched salmon with crispy garlic. The order comes with two pieces and I claim them both to myself each time, ha! Sorry friends… get you’re own :) See my favorites from Bleu Sushi below:
Miso Soup (theirs is actually one of my favorites - always with fresh scallions which make a big difference!)
South Street Roll
Penn State Roll
6. Hikari Sushi $$ - I love how this place is tucked just one road behind the main hustle & bustle of north 2nd street where all the lively Northern Liberties action takes place. I found this place through my old roommate in college — she said “we have to go, I promise it’s really good.” She knows I’m a sushi snob so she knew to preface that it was ACTUALLY good. And guess what? It totally was!!! I went with her and two other girlfriends for a fun GNO on a rainy Friday night. We were all blown away. Really great, attentive service, fresh fish, smokey miso soup (my fave), and the place was filled with bottles of wine (YAY for BYO!) and young people. All around great vibes. I would say this is a great place to go with friends or family, but it’s not necessarily romantic like Fat Salmon or Morimoto. What it does have going for them that most sushi restaurants don’t is the superb friendly service. You feel as if they’re treating you like family and that’s soo special and rare in the food industry these days. Even the senior sushi chef made a point to come over and say hello!! Pro tip- I would make a reservation if you’re going on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night! Both times I have been the place was FULLLL. See my favorites from Hikari below:
Miso Soup (10/10 recommend!)
Hikari Roll (my favorite!)
Other notable sushi spots in Philly that I adore:
Sagami (okay technically outside of Philly, but OMG this place is legit)
Sumo Sushi Bar
Kisso Sushi Bar