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Best Sushi in Minnesota?

David_Minh Aug 13, 2007 08:19 PM

I can't say I have been to all of the sushi joints in Minnesota, but I can say that I have been to a good few. After going to Japan a few years back, I have an insatiable desire for sushi and the like. I have been to Ichiban's all you can eat kaiten-zushi-esque sushi bar, Tiger sushi, Fuji-ya in St. Paul, Sakura, and sadly the "sushi corner" at the world buffet.

But, I am curious about your opinion: What is the best sushi restaurant in Minnesota? The criteria would include...

1. Taste
2. Variety
3. Presentation
4. Service/Atmosphere
5. Price (this probably would be higher in my judgements, but this is for best overall sushi)

  1. MSPD Aug 14, 2007 07:38 AM

    I've found that there are two worlds of sushi in MSP: The world in which you have a relationship with the itamae and order omakase or at least ask for recommendations, and the "guy off the street/order off the menu world". If the itamae recognizes you or knows you understand/have experience in Japanese cuisine, the result is entirely different. I don't know a whole lot about the "guy off the street" world -- I generally reserve my sushi outings for special occasions (thus #5 is out of my criteria). So if you're asking which place in town excels in 1-5 for a California roll or salmon nigiri ordered off the menu at a table, I don't know.

    With that in mind, dining at the sushi bar at Origami (downtown) still consistenly intrigues and excites me more than any other place in town. All of their chefs seem competent and creative, whereas at other places you may hit a good chef at one end of the bar and a not-so-good one at the other end. They also seem the most warmly receptive to adventurous diners -- I imagine if you were at the bar, ordered Omakase and said, "you know, when I was in Osaka (or wherever you were), I couldn't get enough of the jack mackerel (or whatever you love)" they would recognize that you aren't a "beginner" and would treat you to a wonderful omakase meal emphasizing jack mackerel and/or other fish they have that night to compliment your preferences.

    On a side note, in the spring, I finally made my way over to Bagu (I posted about it somewhere on here) with a friend who is more of a novice when it comes to Japanese cuisine (although he's fairly open to trying new things). What impressed me about Bagu is the itamae recognized through our conversation that we were a ways apart on the spectrum and did a great job of organizing a number of dishes that were wonderful takes on some standard items (rolls, etc...I was actually in the mood for rolls) as well as offering up things that would push my friend's envelope a bit (the fried mackerel skeleton). I gathered that, because of its small size, Bagu didn't reserve as many unusual or expensive fishes behind the bar, but did an excellent job of personalizing the sushi. The quality was excellent as well.

    To make a long story a little less long, all of that basically means Origami downtown and Bagu would be my top two places to send you, but only based on 1-4.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MSPD
      d
      dave43 May 29, 2009 07:25 PM

      MSPD,

      I recently posted looking for the best Omakase in town. I thought I would respond to your thoughtful post as it is exactly what I'm looking for in Omakse. I want the unusual...Uni, Monkfish liver, whatever is fresh. I despise exactly what I got at Origami Ridgedale, a bunch of fancy colorfull rolls that didn't express the sea. Stop bombarding me with rice and sauce drizzled to look pretty. Let me taste the sea. Any tips for Origami downtown? Should I ask for a specific chef?

      1. re: dave43
        MSPD May 29, 2009 07:47 PM

        Well...it's been a little while but Emi-san (I may be spelling it wrong...I know him by face more than name) at the downtown location was good. I also think Paul at Bagu is very creative when you go off the menu and express the interest in something unique.

        Since I much prefer sashimi to rolls, I make sure to articulate that regardless of the chef. I would be ticked too if I went the omakase route and got a bunch of rolls and sauces.

        My omakase days are much fewer and farther between recently. Kids' activities and other demands have put the ki-bosh on my time.

      2. re: MSPD
        pitu Jul 1, 2009 10:29 AM

        Really enjoyed Bagu when passing through MPLS recently. They have real crab in the california rolls, and bargain happy hour specials on rolls etc.

        I live in NYC, and was looking for a good place to introduce sushi to some curious in-laws. It was a great success. All the white wines on the menu are painfully (and in the midwest, unapologetically) sweeeeet.

      3. l
        Loren3 Aug 14, 2007 08:48 AM

        I think there are probably five answers, one for each category. Selection usually drives up price. Koyi has a great selection of rolls, but keeps the nigiri choices simple, and they achieve near-perfection in selecting fresh, buttery fish. Nami has some interesting options, but the fish is sometimes dry or skunky. Koyi is a more intimate ambience, Nami is hip and happening. Origami has great omakase, but the space is a little cluttered and cold and the prices are high.

        Which is best? Depends on reasons for going at the time.

        As for me, I end up at Koyi most of the time, because sushi is something of a comfort food (?!?) and Koyi has the intimate ambience and the fabulously fresh fish.

        1. s
          soupkitten Aug 15, 2007 12:16 PM

          a recent thread you might be interested in, David Minh:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/367904

          it is mainly minneapolis/st paul sushi, but places out in the 'burbs are mentioned too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: soupkitten
            David_Minh Aug 15, 2007 12:51 PM

            Thanks! I pretty much read that whole topic, and I never knew that Martini Blu and Sushi of Tokyo had AYCE sushi! Does anyone know if those are any good in comparison to Ichiban's AYCE?

          2. toshio Aug 20, 2007 09:31 AM

            Just to stir things up - How about Tiger sushi in the MOA just for a change? It's not Origami (my fav) but far better than you might expect - the fish seems quite fresh - I catch it when I have a long layover at the MSP airport as you can take the light rail system down to it.

            Now for Japanese food not just sushi - I do really enjoy Tanpopo in St. Paul - the noodle and tempura are quite good (the tempura for me is a real test of a serious Japanese kitchen, that's why Wasabi gets a thumbs down from me) The tesuko (sic) changes around and they try and use local produce. Yum.

            4 Replies
            1. re: toshio
              s
              soupkitten Aug 20, 2007 10:14 AM

              i love tanpopo too-- great noodles, great specials, usually a sushi special (just one type). the noodles are the big draw though, and we love the ginger chicken wings as well.

              for great tempura and robata (they have awesome bento boxes and good sushi too) you might really like obento-ya in northeast-- it's new. thread:

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/413230

              1. re: toshio
                j
                joshi Aug 20, 2007 10:21 AM

                I tried Tiger a few months ago - I asked the waiter for sushi menu items (not tuna or cucumber rolls) that didn't contain mayonnaise or cream cheese, and even he was stumped. I thought that the $7-8 that I paid for about 5 bites of food was excessive. For that price, I'd rather eat a (maa-maa) sushi tray from Whole Foods.

                I ate at Kami (Apple Valley) shortly after they opened - I tried the chirashi-zushi (the standard by which I judge the sushi when I first visit a Japanese restaurant) and was impressed by the freshness. Haven't gone back since, though, so I don't know if that was typical.

                The c-z at Fuji-ya (Mpls) was presented as weirdly large slabs. I remember the tuna had hard gristle lines in it, and when I tried to bite through a piece, I couldn't.

                1. re: joshi
                  l
                  Loren3 Aug 22, 2007 12:36 PM

                  I agree about Tiger. They don't seem to know sushi, service always seems painfully slow, prices staggeringly high, and you have to suffer through MOA to experience it. If I'm stuck in MOA, I prefer Wok'n'Roll in the food court, sadly enough.

                2. re: toshio
                  David_Minh Aug 20, 2007 11:50 AM

                  I love Tanpopo for its bukkake soba dish, and for its hiya-yakko appetizer. Although, the last time I went there I asked if there hiya-yakko was more hiya-yakko in the teishoku and they said yes, and that was a lie.

                  But, they made up for it by giving me very good mochi with extra adzuki beans on the side. mmmm.

                3. katebauer Aug 20, 2007 10:59 AM

                  I have to ask, what's the sushi corner at the World Buffet?

                  We've been slacking a little lately on our quest to eat sushi everywhere in Minnesota. We still have to try the new place on Hennepin downtown and Obento-ya. Now that Midori's is out of our repertoire and it will be soon be too chilly for the patio at Bagu, we should be more motivated to get out to new places.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: katebauer
                    David_Minh Aug 20, 2007 11:48 AM

                    I go to the world buffet, and the sushi there is very, very, very bad. It is pretty much the worst quality sushi anyone can find ever. The avocado rolls are hard as a rock, and they only have a few different choices (including the "vegetable" roll that comprises of canned veggies). So do not go there if u want decent sushi.

                    P.S. Why isn't Midori's on your reportoire?

                    1. re: David_Minh
                      The Dairy Queen Aug 20, 2007 11:58 AM

                      David, It think katebauer's Midori saga is nicely documented in the recent posts in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/337558 (to tide you over until she can reply...

                      )

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: David_Minh
                        katebauer Aug 21, 2007 01:18 PM

                        Thanks for the redirect TDQ. Is the World Buffet Lee's World Buffet in St. Paul? I've just never heard of it.

                        1. re: katebauer
                          David_Minh Aug 21, 2007 07:37 PM

                          Nope. It is just the "world buffet" in Apple Valley. It has a mongolian barbeque and... yeah.

                    2. t
                      tastebudtart Aug 21, 2007 07:41 PM

                      I really like Bagu for setting, knowledge and great sushi.
                      Try the Japanese Bagel Balls...OMG. Incredible for sushi lovers and new-comers.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tastebudtart
                        d
                        discus Jun 15, 2008 06:22 AM

                        Just came back from Bagu's Saturday night with my wife and we were both disappointed. Like many other Chowhounds, we live in South Minneapolis and this place is within walking distance -- if you like walking 20 minutes each way.

                        The sushi platter was distinctly not fresh and a little pricey at $20. Sushi is basically frozen fish and most sushi houses have access to the same fish distributor. Low quality sushi reflects poor management, not an inability to get high quality fish.

                        The vegetable tempura was to contain eggplant. It didn't. We ordered that and the shrimp tempura, and basically had two identical dishes. The seaweed salad was essentially the same packet available at any Asian grocery store for $3.50 per portion.

                        Oh well, we'll keep looking.

                        1. re: discus
                          MSPD Jun 15, 2008 08:10 AM

                          Wow. Disappointing. Since my post above, I have had several excellent experiences at Bagu, all at the hands of Paul the sushi chef. If you find it in your heart to give them a second chance, try to make sure to sit at the bar and let Paul take care of you. He has such an attention to detail, I can't imagine he'd send out any poorly treated fish.

                      2. m
                        melmo Apr 27, 2009 04:06 PM

                        There is a buffet in Bloomington called 98 Pound. It's not the best but they have decent sushi and a variety of it. Prices are very reasonable...better than King's Buffet in Burnsville.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: melmo
                          t
                          TDS1 May 30, 2009 04:57 PM

                          98 Pounds just raised their prices to $9.99 for lunch Mon-Sat and 15.99 for dinner Saturday and Sunday. That prices them above pretty much every buffet in the Twin Cities. I wonder how well they will do at this new price point. On the flip side, I was there at lunch today and they had Salmon Skin Hand Rolls on the buffet, which were delicious - so for that alone it was a bargain. I need to try Akita sushi in Woodbury. It's also AYCE, but you order off a menu and they make it for you.

                        2. NugarifiK Apr 30, 2009 12:54 AM

                          I've had nothing but wonderful experiences at Giapponese in Woodbury. Henry Chan and his staff are class acts and he puts out some amazing dishes.

                          -----
                          Giapponese
                          10060 City Walk Dr, Saint Paul, MN 55129

                          1. cheeseguysgirl May 30, 2009 04:46 PM

                            I recently posted a review of Ronin Sushi Cafe in Apple Valley/ Lakeville, of all places. Here is the link:

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/621321

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