Think ‘Japanese food,’ and your mind automatically goes to sushi, doesn’t it? It is the food that typifies the nation, and it’s the first thing most people want to eat when they come to Japan. Nagoya isn’t known for sushi, but having the second largest fish market in Japan, it should come as no surprise that there are still some fantastic places to try.
Below are some of my favorites.
Okay, it seems like a bit of a cop out to wax lyrical about Nagoya’s sushi scene and then begin our list with a branch of a Tokyo chain, but there is a reason why Sushi Zanmai has become the capital’s number one choice.
With its links to the Tsukiji fish market – the chain is owned by Kiyoshi Kimura, the ‘Tuna King’ famed for bidding big on high-quality tuna at the fish auctions – the fish on offer is some of the best around. It’s also very reasonable, with individual pieces from as little as 105 JPY or an assortment tray from 745 JPY, and is open until 5 am.
Furari is another chain, but this time it is based in Nagoya. Of the numerous Furari shops around town, my favorite is the Fushimi branch and their English menus, although, after repeated trips at my mother-in-law’s insistence to the Meieki branch, I may have changed allegiances.
Everything I have had at Furari has been top notch, but perhaps the best thing about Furari is their 90 minutes all-you-can-eat sushi bar for 3,580 JPY for males and 3,280 JPY for females, which is pretty unbeatable for price.
When it comes to the freshness of the fish, Kitaro Yanagibashi takes some beating. Located in the Yanagibashi fish market, this sushiya is a branch of Tokyo’s Tsukiji Tamazushi, and is considered to be one of the best places in the city for its quality to cost ratio.
While you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, perhaps the number one recommendation at Kitaro Yanagibashi is their ‘kaisendon’, a sashimi-topped rice bowl which is a steal at 1,500 JPY.
I was unsure whether or not to include Senju on this list. Not due to quality, you understand, but if my wife finds out, she’s gonna kill me; this is our secret place, you see.
With an extremely friendly atmosphere, Senju is very relaxed and always bustling with families and groups of friends, but the food itself is top quality. You can sit at the counter and watch the chef prepare the food, at a table, or even take an entire room with your friends for a party. It’s an anything goes kind of place, and on weekends it’s just 180 JPY a piece, which is a real bargain. But if you see my wife and I there, don’t tell her that I told you about it!
At ‘Kaiten zushi,’ where the chefs place sushi on a conveyer belt, and you pick up what you fancy as it comes by, is a large part of the sushi experience. There are many cheap family restaurants in Nagoya of this nature (Sushiro and Kappa Sushi are perhaps the best known), but if you want a similar experience with perhaps better quality, Nigiri no Tokube in Sakae’s Oasis 21 is a good place to start.
There is a wide array of sushi to choose from, with both classic dishes and modern interpretations – such as the broiled prawn with torched mayo on top – available so that you can discover a variety of new taste experiences.
If you want to know more about sushi, check out our Beginners’ Guide to Sushi.