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Best Sushi in Tampa?

Where is it? I've been to a lot of places that are good, but so far none that are great. And preferably nothing that I have to drive out to pinellas for. In Tampa I've been to-

Cafe Japon (at International Plaza) - Top notch Sashimi, bottom notch service, good rolls.

Samurai Blue (ybor) - Fun, tasty, but expensive and super commercialized.

Joto's (Dale Mabry) - not bad, but nothing special.

Fuji Sushi (South Dale Mabry) - Blah.

Sakana (Gandy near MacDill) - The charred Seabass appetizer is spectacular, the service, rolls, and sashimi selection else are mediocre.

Soho Sushi (Kennedy near Henderson) Good but not so much so that I can't wait to return

Rawbar - (Downtown at Skypoint) That place is miserable. Looks like dracula tried to open a gay bar that serves sub-par overpriced sushi with servers that don't know Uni from Unagi.

Matoi (Dale Mabry just north of Kennedy) - Used to eat there every couple weeks, prices went up, portions went down, and the korean food steeply fell off. Maybe the chef left?

Water (South Macdill) - Very decent but very expensive, mayonnaise on freaking everything, initially very creative (years ago) they used things like curry and other spices on the sushi, but as of late it's back to the fried stuff and mayo. Meh.

Tokyo Sushi (56th and Fowler) - My current favorite, a hole in the wall near a college, so they have very reasonable prices and large portions, and a good selection of sashimi too. Never had a bad meal there. They have a roll called the CD roll, which is nearly the diameter of a compact disk (how aptly named). Also a bunch of fun appetizers, and the regulars have rolls named after them.

Soho Sushi
311 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

Cafe Japon
2223 S West Shore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33629

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    1. If it's any consolation, I believe Rawbar is no more. The space is some generic looking bar and grill now.

      I have been to Soho Sushi, Sakana and Joto and agree with your takes; Soho is my go-to fave, because it's good, the service is good, and the location is convenient. I have also been to Yoko's, and, well, I won't go again.

      We'll try Cafe Japon next...

      6 Replies
      1. re: Miss E

        I've always liked Yoko's. Last time I went I thought it was better than ever. The little place in Palms Plaza (I think its Harbor Sushi???) is pretty good too. I've always had fun at samurai blue, but I was probably drinking too much saki. Last time I went to Joto's it was mediocre at the very best.

          1. re: askdrtodd

            right across Dale Mabry from Wrights. Mott & Hester is in that same strip mall. I haven't been in a year or so, so I assume it is still there. It is on the same side as the Wing Stop.

            Keving K. from Pane Rustica turned me on to it (That has to count for something with you, Doc. ;) ). I think he used to go in there once a week. Not much atmosphere, but decent sushi.

        1. re: Miss E

          Yay! I feel like I won or something (regarding the Rawbar thing).

          1. re: askdrtodd

            I haven't been in at least three years, but there used to be a terrific sushi place in a non-descript strip mall in Palm Harbor -- I think it was owned by the brother of one of the Iron Chefs.

            Also, haven't been in a while, but how about Kiku's in Clearwater Beach? Have never heard anything but praise about this place. I know you don't want to leave Tampa, but it (used to be and probably still is) worth a drive across a couple of bridges.

            1. re: kentski

              I second Kiku's in Clearwater Beach...sit at the bar and let the chef serve you what he will...it is the best sushi in the area. The sushi bar (Takura) at The Venue used to serve the best Uni I've had outside of Japan, but now you have to special order it ahead of time. Still, they have their fish flown in twice a week from Hawaii and Japan...it's very good (and more easily accessible from Tampa.) Try Tuesday when it's all you can eat for $19.95.

        2. Kiku is great on the beach. Try the tempura bagel roll if they still have it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tebbital

            Is that a fried roll with cream cheese in it? I was hoping more for places in Tampa, and places that focused on creativity and the art of making sashimi/omakase rather than just frying up some American ingredients...

            1. re: askdrtodd

              I've been to Ichiban near the Jai Ho (University Mall) area three times...
              The first two times, every bite blew my mind...
              Creative, fresh, delicious rolls, and a great sashimi platter....
              The first two times, friendly, happy, hospitable, Asian folks served me and made my food...

              This last time, I popped in with the intention of not going crazy...
              I ordered a roll of some kind, a couple pieces of salmon, a couple Yellowtail, and a couple smoked salmon...

              You know how I love the Mexican people & culture... I am a Mexiphile...
              (I'm an everybodyphile)
              When I visit my aunt and uncle in Anaheim every few years they think I'm nuts when I choose to get a cheap motel room in the Mexicanest neighborhood I can find, rather than something nicer closer to Disney......

              But I'm never thrilled when a Mexican crew is going thru the motions, joyless & expressionless, making my sushi in a highly regarded Japanese restaurant/sushi joint...

              That's what happened on my last visit, and everything was blah...
              It was a weekday lunchtime visit...

              Maybe they bring in the A Team for dinner and weekends...

              I'll try again sometime and see...

          2. Ichiban is a USF standby. i've had mixed experiences, too. Last time i went (2-3 months ago), they were out of tuna. I walked out.

            I also agree that Matoi may have slipped recently. Not sure if they lost personnel when the restaurant burned last year.

            I have been meaning to try Tokyo, and will do so in the next week or so.

            3 Replies
            1. re: andy huse

              I hope you enjoy Tokyo! The CD roll is a must try, the white & red tuna app is yummy, the tiger eye is good if they still have it, also the volcano mussels, the sushi pizza is cool, and the "holy mackeral" if you like mackeral :)

              1. re: askdrtodd

                Todd, you're right on about Tokio. I ordered my usual standbys (nothing special: spicy tuna and mexican rolls) and both were very good. the ingredients and attention to detail are superior.

            2. I haven't eaten sushi in Tampa in quite a few years but the most consistent place I always had luck with was Sushi Tsu in Tampa Palms on Amberly. Fresh ingredients and very friendly service.


              Is it still good?

              Sushi Tsu
              15317 Amberly Dr, Tampa, FL 33647

              1. I love the Sushi Rock Grill in St.Pete. Their rolls are creative with lots of fish in them.
                Would go there more often if it would not be too far to drive.
                When ever I have out of town guests I always take them there.
                On the other hand,
                sushi rolls at Crazy Buffet in Tampa are big disappointment,even on Saturdays or Sundays!

                Sushi Rock Grill
                1163 Dr Martin Luther King Jr St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rosa G

                  Respectfully, I think you're maybe expecting too much...
                  Crazy Buffet this past Sunday blew our minds, but we went in only expecting it to be a fairly premium selection of 'econo-sushi'...

                  The 6 of us must have eaten $500.00 worth of sushi & stuff for $15.00 each...
                  Gorgeous buttery fat-striped Salmon, Ebi, White Tuna (Escolar), Tuna, Mackeral, Eel, Sashimi of Tuna-Salmon- and White Tuna, 20+/- various rolls that were fairly simple, but fresh and flavorful...
                  On this visit the riceballs were small and the fish pieces were nice size...

                  The hot food was even a lil' better than usual...
                  Their duck usually looks good but has too-little salt or flavor...
                  This visit it was juicy and delicious...

                  3 of the six people are picky when it comes to sushi, and prefer their respective places--- but we were all unanimous in our appreciation of CB on that day...
                  8 out of 10 times I'm very happy there, but if you only go for the rolls and don't eat the sushi sushi (Nigiri), I understand how you might not be as enthusiastic......

                2. Mayo is very popular with Japanese

                  1. Samurai Blue is where we eat in Ybor. When my son was turning 16, I introduced him to the manager and explained that he would be bringing dates there (so that they would remember his face, not serve alcohol, and remember that I am a good customer) --and we maintained a great relationship with that restaurant. Plus, being right next to The Improv made for some memorable evenings.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Sumodo

                      Awesome and admirable maneuverings there Sumodo!

                      1. re: Sumodo

                        Nice, so that's the spot he used to sucker 'em in huh? Just kidding, it's a fun place ;)

                        1. re: askdrtodd

                          My go to place is I Ai Sushi on Waters. The fish is fresh, the appetizers are very good and you are not paying for any ambiance or real estate. That's how I have always picked my favorite sushi restaurant.

                            1. re: rhnault

                              It's right behind the Albertson's at Waters and Dale Mabry...

                              1. re: Mild Bill

                                ahhhh OK. I never knew there was one there. We will have to check it out.

                                1. re: rhnault

                                  It's easy to miss. A student told me about it on an extra credit question.

                                  1. re: CFishman

                                    i like that they offer ramen and other dishes. the sushi is good, too, but i think tokio is better.

                                    clearly, i need to offer extra credit questions to my next class.

                            2. re: CFishman

                              I agree about Ai Sushi on Waters. The sushi is very good and fresh. For lunch it is very reasonable priced. When I go shopping to Albertson's and have craving for sushi, I call in for an order to take home. For lunch they have specials for 2 rolls any combination $8.50 and they give you a small salad with it.

                        2. Kaisen sushi is really amazing authentic sushi. The decor is awful, but the food makes up for it. I was born in pusan, korea so... i know my fish ^_^. It's fresh and the cold noodle dish is heaven.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Kimchilover

                            Is Pusan = Busan? I've been to Busan (ironically accidentally, your damn train system is confusing to us gaijin). Will try Kaisen, I've heard other people reco it too

                            1. re: Kimchilover

                              I went to Kaisen for lunch today. I am so happy that you recommended it, I have to go back again with more people before I make it official, but I think it's my new favorite sushi spot in Tampa. It was Excellent. I sat at the bar and had the "Chef's Special" (you tell them how much you want to spend and what you do/don't like and they take it from there). It's a simple place, kind of a mom & pop setup, but excellent selection of seafood (especially the more fun exotic stuff that I am so fond of), and very reasonable prices. They did a great job with the rice too, not too densely packed, and in good proportion. The mackerel was probably the best I've had in Florida, that was one of the tastiest things I ate. Can't wait to go back.

                              1. re: askdrtodd

                                I am so ecstatic! That makes me so happy to hear that. I was turned on to Kaisen back in my college days by my Japanese professor, Ohtani San. The rice is as great as it gets. Sushi rolls should be eaten right away, but one night I got carried away and ordered too much. So.. i had to take sushi togo. I put the sushi in my fridge, hesitant the next morning of how it would taste. To my amazement, the sushi was NOT HARD. I wouldn't recommend it, only cause it's not the best to eat it like that. I was hungover from too much cold sake and it had hit the spot. The thing I like most about this place is that the chef really selects the best fish. I agree with you on the mackerel as well! The chef also posts everyday the specials that he carries. Next time try the grouper cheeks. Tasty.

                                1. re: Kimchilover

                                  will do, I plan to head up there with a few friends to try as much stuff as possible.

                                  Hey if you're ever in NYC, try the Mackerel (and everything else) at Kyo Ya. Best kaiseki i've ever had, and hands down the best Saba-Maki I've ever had too. The meal was ethereal.

                            2. I have try so many sushi bar in Tampa, The best sushi in tampa I would said is Ichiban Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar by USF on fowler, One of my girlfriend told me about this place, Their sashimi is very fresh, and Monk roll , vacano roll, tuna martini, They are the only one serve japanese ramen, You got to try it, It's in the heaven Check out there website , I will recommond make reservation with them http://www.ichibansushitampa.com/