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Phoenix: Whats your favorite sushi?

I've yet to find a place with better sushi than Ichi Ban on Central and Thomas. I've been quite a few places but obviously not all. Seems most of them just have this trendy bar atmosphere and you get to the food and its garbage. Any places that just have AWESOME fish?

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  1. omg, ANY place is better than ichi ban on central and thomas!!! my recent fav is on the west side..you know it must be good because i had to leave central phoenix ;)

    tokyo lobby on bell and 59th ave...EXCELLENT..id say its the best sushi i've had in az.

    have you tried fish market? its pretty good - sit at the sushi bar, avoid the tables at all cost...and its close ;) about 18th street and camelback

    3 Replies
    1. re: winedubar

      We're fortunate to have several terrific sushi bars that don't depend on loud music and creating a scene to attract hungry, appreciative customers. In no particular order, some of my favorites include:

      Dozo -- downtown Scottsdale, Miller south of Camelback -- nice room, attentive service, excellent fish, and Robert-san is responsive -- he reads you and doesn't hesitate to make suggestions. Prices are reasonable, and while the sashimi and nigiri are very well-executed, the portions aren't especially generous ... the black cod sauteed in miso is a special pleasure.

      Kampai -- Bell Rd. near 29th St. -- solid offerings, fresh, varied, well-presented, reasonably priced, all in all a wonderful sushi bar, no flash, just great food. I really should get there more often, but there there's other very worthy options ... The two Japanese chefs in the top two holes are very competent but somewhat reserved -- show respect and behave well and it's all good. There seems to be some turnover in the roll boy slot, but they all perform well while they are there.

      Akaihana (formerly Mr. Sushi) -- 24th Ave. and Northern -- inexpensive -- sentimental favorite of mine. I've eaten there at least 500 times since 1989 or 1990, maybe more ... part of the vertically integrated Moonie fish empire -- the only drawback over the years is the especially sober/somber tone there, especially since the man from LA arrived to kick ass and take names a few years ago -- he works in the #2 hole, but he's the boss. Since he took over, the range of species offered is narrower and they've attempted to jazz up the gaijin roll menu. They no longer cut whole fish up front after closing time -- I've seen it -- but then the whole industry is using packaged fish now. Back in the day, the corporation's fish-mongering muscle in California was its main advantage -- it still supplies a huge share of the fresh fish used for sushi throughout the US, and it also operates retail markets as well. I miss (roll call) Matsumoto, Kasu-san, Tony-san, but Ashino-san does a fine job in the #1 hole ... just don't expect to find treats like mirugai or aji anytime soon.

      Sushi Ko -- Scottsdale, 92nd and Shea -- very fine sushi bar, all around. Wide variety of fresh offerings, nice space, friendly, a couple of the chefs aren't Japanese -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- but Mo, I believe, who works the middle, is. Always something interesting on the board -- not the cheapest spot, but very reasonable.

      Other options include: Mishima, 56th and Thomas (very homey, limited menu, but I like it) ... Sakana in Ahwatukee, 51st and Elliot, not bad when I lived down there (never been to the other locations) -- neighborhood place, good fish, large portions, presentations less than stellar, a little loud ... Zen 32, 32nd/Camelback -- near my house, okay in a pinch, stick to basics, not as expensive as one might expect. Fish Market, on the other hand, at about 18th/Camelback, has good-quality fish but is more expensive than one would expect. Sushi on Shea, at 70th St.? It was happening back in '96, along with Kyoto, and I guess it's still there -- my last visit was about a year ago when my take was that it the fish was fresh, decent, but rather expensive and the vibe was very depressing -- I was almost alone in there on a weekend evening and a server stumbled and broke a bunch of glasses on the hard floor while showering my back with cold water, and ice ... no apology, no restitution ... no more repeat business.

      1. re: misohungrychewlow

        Interesting you guys both responded with Fish Market. I've never had a good experience there, and Zen 32 I agree is just ok.

        1. re: misohungrychewlow

          I agree completely on Kampai. Basic no-frills, but really good for what it is. I noticed they have a Murphy Brown secretary-thing going on with the low-level chefs, too. :)

      2. I'd second Tokyo Lobby. Great interior, very friendly chefs, and awesome sushi that's more than it appears. The first time I went there was for lunch, and the preparation was immaculate. I got a shrimp tempura roll (being cautious since it was a first visit) and something seemed different about it. I thought I tasted a hint of cinnamon, and the chef confirmed it. Now I'm hooked on their version. The monkey brains appetizer is addictive as well, although I can't remember if there's any fish in it. All the rolls I've tried have been a step beyond the usual. Definitely worth the trip. Beware of crowds, though. For a hole-in-the-wall place that doesn't really advertise, they can be very busy.

        1. Two unsung heroes to add to the list:

          Mr. Sushi -- Northern Avenue at the I-17 Frontage Road

          Sushi Eye -- Kyrene and Elliott in Tempe

          Neither is trendy. Both place the emphasis squarely on the food.

          3 Replies
          1. re: silverbear

            I'll second the vote for Sushi Eye and add Sushi Kee at Rural/Warner.

            1. re: dustchick

              I vote for Sushi Eye too! This is the best (freshest) and most well presented sushi I have found in the area.

              1. re: pstempe22

                Had a fantastic dinner at Sushi Eye this week, enough that my wife (a tepid sushi eater) was ready to come back the next night. He had a fresh bluefin from Spain (I think) and was cutting wonderful toro from it and bigeye for his other tuna. My favorite was the escolar which was almost as buttery as the toro.

                Everything was fresh and the prices were reasonable (at least as much as good sushi can be).

          2. Ichiban on Central/Thomas? Wow, this won't be hard to beat. lol. We used to go there pre-drinking age . I just remember the sushi being loaded up with rice. The fish was so-so.
            Would recommend Sakana on Indian Bend/Hayden in Scottsdale...very reasonable and amazing portions. Also, Sushi on Shea is decent too. For eye candy, loud music, and saki bombing you can check out RA--wouldn't say they have very good sushi though.

            7 Replies
            1. re: lumberg

              um... you guys apparently haven't been to ichi ban post break up with the chain.

              I like Sushi Eye quite well but Ichi Ban is better. My guests at the hotel are always in AWE of it.

              1. re: AZBconcierge

                are we talking about the same place? i have a friend who waxes nostalgic for that spot. she insists on going every year for her birthday....for the rest of us? its inedible drek!!! we went again for her january birthday, and im telling you - it was terrible, all the way around. there were 10 of us, the b-day gal was the only one who managed to eat the sushi..i had some teriyaki chicken special - congealed sauce, undercooked rice, mealy vegetables. donburi - smelled BAD - you could literally get a whiff from down the table. i could go on and on..

                we've given that spot a chance every january for about 6 years, and it never gets any better.

                is there a secret handshake or special hotel guest menu we don't know about????

                1. re: AZBconcierge

                  I am a regular at the Ichiban on Litchfield Road, and other than SeaSaw, haven't found anything in the valley that beats it. The key is to ignore the roll menu full of cream cheese and mayo and avocado -- I put myself in the chef's hands and incredible presentations of sashimi start coming my way. Like, take my breath away beautiful plates, supple melting fish, every detail attended to, flavors perfectly complemented.

                  IME, as with any sushi place, your experience is predicated on the freshness of the ingredients, the rapport you've developed with the chef, and the chef's skill. Ichiban has never let me down; in fact, the chefs have told me where the best sushi chefs are at restaurants all over the valley -- to the point where I can read other people's recommendations and guess that we may have similar tastes. So when people scoff at whatever location, I just smile and think -- good. That means less of a crowd when I go.

                  1. re: themis

                    wow - ichiban compared to seasaw, thats impressive!!

                    i think part of the incredulity of the people who've responed negatively to the ichiban on central isn't just the menu- it's the whole experience. dirty floor, smells BAD, appallingly filthy bathroom, rude servers...im having a hard time reconciling the place i get dragged to every year and other people's experiences!!!

                    normally, id just say 'give it one more shot' because there's NOTHING i mean NOTHING i'd love more than a closer to downtown good sushi spot. but im serious, themis, ive never had anything at ichiban on central that is anything other than mall food court sushi.

                    i'd be willing to try the one on litchfield road if i ever happen to be out that far :D but unless i get a call that johnny depp is serving up sushi and free sake, i'll be hardpressed to go back to the one on central.

                    1. re: winedubar

                      Hee! Well, from your description, *I'd* also have a hard time patronizing that Ichiban location, even with Johnny Depp on the premises, and I'd pay to watch him read the phonebook for a couple of hours. It sounds appalling.

                      My point is only that the name on the door means much less than having a good relationship with a skilled chef.

                      1. re: themis

                        lol - wanna go halfsie's on the depp deal?

                        i agree with you.

                    2. re: themis

                      I think you guys are referencing experiences of Ichi Ban from long ago. The manager (seth) is one of the most accommodating I've seen in the service industry. I'm obviously in the industry. The guests I send there come back in awe of the place. The fish is extremely fresh, the portions great, and the place is spotless sans the dated bathroom. Also, none of the Ichi Bans are connected. According to the owner, the chain has broken up and each is seperate.

                      Anyway. That point is moot, since I'm looking for other places to try. Seems I have quite a few on my list now. Sushi Eye I did last night, though most of it was good, the toro was ghastly.

                2. Down here on the SE side of town our favorite used to be Sakana on 48th and Elliott.

                  Since we learned about Sushi Ken(thanks Chowhounds!) this has become our new favorite. We've been averaging about once every ten days since. Not trendy but if you looking for great sushi this is it. On par with what we used to eat in Seattle. 51sr and Chandler Blvd.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ziggylu

                    i used to work on that side of town - i really liked their sushi..you can't beat their 10 dollar lunch specials.

                    1. re: ziggylu

                      Sushi Ken is utterly terrific. The see-and-be-seen crowd is nowhere in sight, and the sushi is divine. It's closer to 42nd Street and Chandler Blvd, in the same shopping centre that holds CK's Tavern and Havana Cafe.