Phoenix in the summer is hot and it’s hard to figure out what to eat, sushi is always on the top of my list. Sushi restaurants are everywhere in Metro Phoenix, casual and dramatic, fusion and traditional- you choose. Most restaurants are a blend of these characteristics. Here are a few of my favorites.

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Downtown Sushi

Harumi Sushi
114 West Adams Street, Suite C101, Phoenix, AZ 85003
602-258-0131
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 4 to 10 p.m.; closed Sunday

This intimate, casual restaurant is a hot commodity in the Downtown Phoenix area and is one of the best Phoenix restaurants. The restaurant’s signature “purple” rice originates from nutrient-rich black rice which sets this one-of-a-kind restaurant apart from its competitors.

Not only is it sweeter but it’s more delicious taking the ordinary California roll to an extraordinary level. You can often find my family at the restaurant yelling, “OH MY GOD” as the attentive server brings out their signature roll ablaze. Try the seared salmon over rice, the spider roll, or the savory udon soup with vegetable tempura- you won’t be disappointed. 

A mere $35.00 scores you a substantial, mix-and-match platter of maki rolls and nigiri. There probably won’t be any deep cuts or slightly obscure fish on your plate. However, it’s unnecessary as this adorable establishment more than delivers with their timeless pairings of cleanly carved fish and unique purple rice. Say hello to the lively owner, Juno, for us.

Uptown Sushi

Yasu Sushi Bistro
4316 East Cactus Road Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85032
602-376-9823
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 5:30 to 9 p.m.; Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; closed Sunday

No need to book a flight to Japan when you can simply enjoy a night out at Yasu. This strip mall Japanese Restaurant will help you escape Phoenix and envision the distinct qualities of a quaint little sushi restaurant in Toyko. Owner Yasu Hashino opened Yasu Sushi Bistro in 2006. He creates sublime dishes as even a simple nigiri piece dazzles.

This Japanese eatery offers Japanese beer, shōchū, and artisanal sakes – all made by small producers, some impossible to find anywhere else in Arizona – to complement small plates that outshine any of the surrounding competitors.

The decadent bamboo-wrapped beef tongue is braised for eight hours with scallions and miso. It’s topped with a tableside hibachi. Each caramelized, captivating bite is beyond delectable. If you’re really looking for something unique, order the off-the-menu omakase – loosely translated as something like “I’m in your hands.” You can order a la carte or try the multi-course dinner created with luxurious and sometimes hard-to-come-by ingredients the chef selects specifically for you.

Favorites include: hay-smoked oysters, chawanmushi, a savory custard fortified with edamame, or jidori chicken, and the shimeji mushrooms, as delicate as fairy wands, bigeye tuna, marinated first in soy, sweet sake and yuzu kosho (a paste of chile peppers, citrus peel, garlic, salt and pepper) wrapped in silvery, rose-tinted slices of raw Japanese red snapper, topped with Santa Barbara sea urchin and surrounded by quivering cubes of dashi gelée.

Chandler Sushi

Shimogamo
2051 West Warner Road #14, Chandler 85224
480-899-7191
Hours: Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday 5 to 10 p.m.; Sunday 5 to 9 p.m.

Chandler is known for its notable Asian food and Shimogamo is certainly no exception. It is a white-tablecloth restaurant tucked into a sleepy-looking shopping plaza near the intersection of Dobson and Warner roads in Chandler. It serves refined and creative sushi in the East Valley.

Try the restaurant’s signature Shimogamo roll, which features panko shrimp colorfully garnished with orange-hued tobiko (flying fish roe), and brilliantly accented with fresh citrus. The Zen roll, which brings together spicy yellowtail, yamagobo (pickled burdock root), and shishito peppers, is memorable and delicious. If you have an appreciation for nigiri topped with harder-to-find fish like sea urchin and escolar, you’ll find it here. Reservations not required but suggested.

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