If you gave us a choice and an unlimited budget, we could easily eat sushi every day of the week. From Nigiri to Uramaki, these yummy bite sized rice and fish treats have us all wishing a trip to Japan wasn’t a twelve-hour flight.
Thankfully Liverpool’s Japanese restaurant scene has never been better, with speciality sushi havens popping up everywhere.
We’ve created a definitive guide of the best places to visit when that supermarket bought box of smoked salmon pretending to be authentic sushi just won’t cut it anymore. There’s also a handy sushi dictionary at the bottom of the page to help any beginners determine the difference between the various types.
To get your fix of sensational sashimi and marvellous maki this side of Tokyo, head to one of these restaurants and raise a glass of sake.
Where: 134 Duke Street
Arguably one of Liverpool’s most exciting restaurants, Sapporo Teppanyaki has been serving delicious Japanese cuisine with a Western twist for over 15 years.
The restaurant opened in November 2003 and since then they’ve earned a glowing reputation for presenting amazing food in a truly unique way through their interactive teppanyaki performance.
The talented chefs cook and prepare the food in front of you on traditional teppanyaki grills, with plenty of tricks, pan banging, fire and even the chance to catch your food in your mouth.
It’s safe to say the chefs are the pride and joy of this vibrant restaurant. Each one is required to train for over five years to become a master of their craft and many of them return to their home countries each year to stay in touch with their Asian roots and cooking traditions.
The menu covers everything from steaks to duck, chicken to lamb, and, of course an exciting array of sashimi and sushi.
The sushi and sashimi is freshly prepared to order by the expert chefs using quality ingredients and delicious produce. Our particular favourite is the Tanuki sushi, which are Inari sweet bean pockets filled with a tasty combination of cucumber, carrot, wild brown sushi rice and edamame beans, topped with crispy tempura.
This restaurant is one of the best place to sample traditional sushi in a dining setting that is big, bold and unforgettable.
Where: 25 The Strand
Tucked away on Beetham Plaza, just off the Strand, Etsu is a beautifully simple Japanese restaurant with stripped pine-coloured tables, oriental paintings hanging from the walls and a traditional minimal design.
Etsu translates as ‘delight’ or ‘joy’, a feeling synonymous with what you’ll experience from the moment you enter the restaurant via its pretty garden terrace.
This hidden gem opened its doors back in November 2007 and has been a favourite with diners ever since.
When entering the understated restaurant, you are greeted with an extensive sushi menu that features a wonderful selection of maki, gunkan, nigiri, and the slightly less traditional California rolls.
These delicately rolled parcels of joy are freshly made to order and are very reasonably priced. Each dish comes with a pinch of pickled ginger, a good helping of fresh wasabi and a miniature teapot filled with delicious soy sauce.
Every dish on the menu is made by Etsu’s three extremely talented Japanese chefs, who have over 60 years of experience between them.
Their menus helpfully explain each dish in English if you don’t know your hiyayakko from your nanbanzuke, and there’s a great selection of Japanese cuisine, not just sushi and sashimi.
Where: Liverpool ONE
The most famous of sushi restaurants, Yo! Sushi is a trendy ‘kaiten’ (conveyor belt) sushi bar with over 100 eateries all over the world.
It’s been around since 1997 and offers diners a unique experience centred around colour coded dishes that travel around the restaurant on the ‘kaiten’ until they’re picked up by a happy customer. The prices of the plates range from £2.10 up to £9 depending on the size and ingredients, each dish is also freshly made on the same day.
They offer a wide range of options for sushi lovers, including the dynamite roll which is a salmon and avocado nori roll topped with rayu chilli oil, srirachas, mayo and spring onion. Or why not give the spider roll a go, made up of tempura crab, Japanese pickles, sweet chilli mayo and yuzu tobiko.
All of their seafood is sustainably sourced and approved by Fish2Fork, plus they have a special vegetarian miso that is made in Nagano exclusive for them by the world’s number one producer, Marukome.
Yo! Sushi have a vibrant range of over 100 different small plates so you certainly won’t be struggling for choice.
Where: 62 Castle Street
Just a short walk from the iconic shopping hub of Liverpool ONE, Neighbourhood is a stylish bar and restaurant that opened on Castle Street in November.
Set within an impressive Grade II listed building that was built in 1868 for the Alliance Bank, this trendy bar has become a social hotspot and a place to be seen.
Despite this, the atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable. The owners, part of the New York-inspired East Coast Concepts company, have created a brasserie atmosphere with a European and new American inspired menu.
The cuisine is an eclectic mix of American and Asian dishes, featuring a variety of sushi that may not be the most traditional but are very unique.
Choose from beef teriyaki, soft shell crab, prawn, seabass, avocado or salmon sushi rolls or salmon, seabass or tuna sashimi, they also serve their own signature NBHD sushi rolls.
The food is more on the expensive side but you’re paying for the atmosphere and ornate setting, which is definitely worth it.
Where: 77 Bold Street
Miyagi is a Pan-Asian inspired restaurant and bar that serves Japanese soul food to a soul and motown soundtrack.
Apparently named after a character from the weirdly influential 1980s film, The Karate Kid, this Asian fusion food joint offer diners a delicious selection of Japanese cuisine, unique cocktails and a healthy variety of traditional sake.
An elegant space in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Bold Street, Miyagi is beautifully decorated in a modern, industrial style with contemporary east-meets-west décor. Narrow dark wood panelling decks the walls, exposed brick work is adorned with graffiti, its high ceilings are painted ornately jade and gold and low ambient lampshades set the lighting.
The restaurant specialises in Japanese style small plates with dishes that are split up into three sections, the garden, sea and land. Particular favourites include Mr. M’s famous Nori Taco’s, Katsu, Bao Bun’s, California sushi rolls and the pickles.
Each dish is wonderfully presented with traditional Japanese extras and the sushi is rolled to perfection.
Where: 5 Prescot Street
A take-away style restaurant set on the edge of the city centre about 10 minutes away from Lime Street Station, Kito Sushi serves authentic fresh sushi in boxes to take away; great if you’re in a rush.
The food is made to order, right in front of you and they pride themselves on serving only the freshest food, with quality ingredients.
“KitoKito”, meaning “fresh” in the local dialect of the city Toyama in Japan fits perfectly with their aim to provide the freshest ingredients at a reasonable price, while still preserving Japan’s finest cuisine.
Only opening in January 2017, Kito Sushi is an independently owned restaurant that has grown in popularity as it offers something very different to other Japanese restaurants in the city.
The little bar only has space for around 10 diners, so it is better to take out, but this take-away element is what gives this place its individuality.
Sushi picnic anyone?
Where: 31 Hope Street
Set in a fully refurbished classic building on the corner of Faulkner and Hope Street in Liverpool’s cultural bohemian quarter, HOST is a contemporary East meets West fusion restaurant featuring a menu bursting with Pan-Asian cuisines.
The name was inspired by the New York areas, South of Houston and North of Houston Street, two of the most fashionable parts of the city famous for excellent restaurants and their vibrant yet dynamic atmospheres.
Diners can tuck into everything from Japanese, Chinese and south east Asian dishes, with particular favourites being the salmon sashimi which features a tasty combination of salmon slices, pomelo, fennel, soy and mirin jelly and wasabi mayo.
The interior is bright, spacious and citrus-fresh, with big uniform tables arranged in a traditional Japanese style with chopsticks and spices at the ready. They also have an outdoor seating area which is great in the summer.
HOST channels the Asian attitude towards dining, where food is served fast and hot, and is devoured as soon as its hits your table. Dishes are created from fresh, seasonal, locally sourced produce and are beautifully presented.
Where: 6 Castle Street
Opening its doors in December 2016, Izakaya is one of the most unique new restaurants in Liverpool, cooking up a sushi storm with a Scouse twist.
The restaurant gets its name from the informal Japanese bars and eateries that are similar to Spanish tapas bars and English gastropubs, Izakaya is a relaxed and comfortable venue, perfect for a quick lunch or casual evening meal.
Their menu is relatively small and not strictly traditional, but they offer a brilliant selection of unique sushi, sashimi, bao buns and Japanese inspired dishes that are all made fresh on the day of purchase.
The sushi is made right in front of you so you can see for yourself the skill required to make these delicious bite-sized parcels. Any sushi lover will agree, it’s about more than just food, sushi is an art form.
The staff are very welcoming and happy to explain the different types of sushi, by the time you’ve left you’ll know the difference between Nigiri, Sashimi and Bao.
Become a sushi master
If you still haven’t satisfied your sushi cravings, there are a few places in the city that teach beginners the art of sushi making.
Why not book a sushi masterclass and learn from the experts? Make your own pieces of delicious sushi from scratch as talented and trained sushi chefs teach you the tricks of the trade.
Both Sapporo Teppanyaki and YO! Sushi offer sushi making masterclasses that include tutorials on how to make your own sushi and the history and origins of the classic Japanese dish.
They are well worth a visit for any lover of sushi.
Gunkan – rice and nori seaweed accompanied by salmon, sea urchin or flying fish roe.
Maki – vegetables or seafood rolled in seasoned rice and toasted nori (seaweed)
Nigiri – slices of fresh seafood served on fingers of seasoned rice with a touch of wasabi (Japanese horseradish).
Sashimi – Slices of fresh fish served with a dipping sauce.
Temaki – Sushi that has been hand-rolled into a cone shape.
Uramaki – vegetables or seafood rolled in nori and coated with rice on the outside.
If all this talk of sushi and sashimi has got you longing for some different cultural cuisine, check out our guides on the best Cuban and Caribbean food in Liverpool and our foodies guide to Bold Street.