New York is constantly burgeoning with new sushi restaurants, and Long Island is no exception. But what separates the good locales from the best? To the novice or occasional sushi eater, this can be a tricky question.
If there’s one thing that all sushi lovers can agree on, it’s that quality is king. Especially when it comes to raw fish. Price and special deals are also some important points to consider when assessing a sushi restaurant. Moreover, variety of options is another major key since it is the spice of life, after all! To help you save time making these complicated decisions, we have selected some of the best sushi restaurants in Long Island. And if you’re a daring sushi fanatic, omakase is the best way to enjoy them!
TAKEAWAY: The word omakase translates roughly to “I’ll leave it up to you”. So you’ll never know what the chef might present you with. Typically, an omakase sushi dinner is served in multiple courses, with the starting plates being light and the flavors getting bolder as the meal progresses. In some places, the omakase will be a large platter of various rolls, nigiri, and sashimi.
Furthermore, if you would like to learn how to eat sushi like a Japanese, check “A visual guide to eating sushi in Japan“. This infographic by the hotel Swissotel Nankai in Osaka explains everything you need to know to eat sushi like a pro.
Kotobuki (Multiple Locations)
Boasting four locations, including one in NYC, Kotobuki is a strong player in the Long Island sushi game. Right off the bat, you will see that they knock it out of the park when it comes to variety. Their menu features over a dozen special rolls, a solid “a la carte” sushi list, and multiple omakase options. In terms of quality and freshness, Kotobuki is hard to beat.
Regarding price, they fall into the mid to high tier, but for the higher quality, it is worth it! When ordering from their “a la carte” sushi menu, diners can get some of the sushi world’s most coveted items: uni (sea urchin) and toro (fatty tuna belly). As far as special deals are concerned, you won’t find any happy hour prices here, but their lunch menu is excellent for those looking for quality sushi on a budget.
Our recommendation: Get the sushi and sashimi special for one. Its big enough for two people despite its name, trust us.
Wild Ginger (Smithtown, New York)
While quality may be the most crucial thing when talking about great sushi spots, price is probably the next most important thing. Wild Ginger may not have the most talented sushi chefs or use the highest-quality ingredients, but they offer above-average sushi and at ridiculously low prices. For those dining in, all of their basic rolls and “a la carte” sushi/sashimi are half price! They even have some signature rolls on the half-price menu, but they are also half the size.
Wild Ginger is the perfect place to go for a quick and tasty sushi lunch. Being able to order three rolls for just over $10 is pretty much impossible to beat. Another little quirk about the place is that they put baskets of fried wonton chips with duck sauce on the table. Similar to how Mexican restaurants put out chips and salsa. We know they’re not a Michelin star rated restaurant, but their sushi is still above average.
Our recommendation: Come in hungry, leave with a full belly and wallet!
Taka Sushi (Westbury, New York)
Taka is a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant that may seem like a typical local sushi spot. However, appearances can be deceiving. Getting a seat at the sushi bar is a challenge due to the fact that there are always multiple spots reserved. But don’t worry, they also offer table seating. After eating here, you will understand why those spots are hard to get into.
A good rule of thumb for when a sushi restaurant has very fresh, high-quality fish is to keep it simple. While Taka offers some great signature rolls that are complex and feature multiple ingredients, it’s their simplest things that shine the brightest. If you are lucky enough to grab a seat at the sushi bar, you can have an authentic omakase dinner where the chef will serve you nigiri, one piece at a time. Taka offers exceptional traditional sushi that can compare with some NYC sushi restaurants, but at a much more affordable price tag.
Our recommendation: Reserve a spot at the bar or, if you’re not looking for an omakase experience, get the chirashi don.
Be-Ju (Melville, New York)
Be-Ju is located inside of another restaurant called Jewel, and it is run by chef Tom Schaudel. He has appeared on Food Network and received many awards for his work in Long Island’s restaurant community. Joining him are chefs Shigeki Yamamoto and Hiroki Tanii, two master sushi chefs from Japan. If a restaurant within a restaurant isn’t cool enough for you, just wait until you eat there.
The sushi offered at Be-Ju easily belongs among the ranks of some of the best sushi restaurants in NYC. Each piece of sushi is incredibly fresh and well crafted. They feature some exciting presentation techniques, none more notable than the tea-smoked salmon. This dish is delivered to your table underneath a glass bowl filled with smoke that permeates the succulent fish with smoky flavor. Of course, a sushi restaurant this extravagant offers an omakase dinner and delicacies such as chu-toro and even wagyu beef.
Our recommendation: The warm eel nigiri special and the tea-smoked salmon are must-orders.
Aji 53 (Multiple Locations)
With locations in Smithtown, Bay Shore, and even Brooklyn, the people at Aji 53 know what they’re doing. Their restaurants feature beautiful, modern decoration and fresh, quality fish. Having dinner at Aji won’t break the bank, but the prices aren’t exactly low either. When it comes to value, you definitely get what you pay for. And, luckily, you’re paying for some great sushi.
The menu at Aji features a multitude of creative special rolls. They include ingredients that aren’t commonly found in sushi such as Chilean sea bass, white asparagus, and olive. Another nice aspect of Aji is their attentive and engaging bartenders and servers. They are always happy to answer any questions about the food or drinks. With quality food and outstanding service, Aji 53 has to make the list of the best sushi restaurants in Long Island.
Our recommendation: Try some of the uncommon sushi rolls, it’s a perfect opportunity to expand your culinary frontiers.
There are without a doubt more than a handful of great sushi restaurants in Long Island, but these five have unique qualities that shouldn’t be glossed over. For more insight into the Long Island sushi scene, check out Newsday online, where they rank out ten of Long Island’s best sushi restaurants.