It’s easy to pick a fight with friends in Seattle about the best oysters, or best Vietnamese food, or best espresso to drink while reading a moody book in the drizzling mist. The same goes for raw fish. Ask your friends what their favorite sushi joint in town is, and you’ll get 25 different answers. And then there’s the price - sometimes you just can’t drop $150 on a Wednesday night for a bunch of yellowtail nigiri. So what affordable places are actually great? And which expensive spots are worth the price of admission? We’ve got the answers. Here are the 17 best sushi restaurants in Seattle - from casual spots where you could go every week, to special occasion omakase experiences.
We’ve eaten at Sushi Kashiba inside at a table for a big birthday dinner, outside on the courtyard for a $40 summer nigiri lunch, and waited two hours for a spot at the counter to get served by the owner and chef Shiro Kashiba himself. We’ve confirmed - this is the best sushi in Seattle. If you’re new here, you might not know that Shiro was trained by Jiro Ono, one of the greatest sushi chefs alive (and the subject of a Netflix documentary). If you’re only going to do Kashiba once, wait it out, and secure a seat at the counter. You’ll get incredible pieces of nigiri, ranging from seared flounder fin to Norwegian smoked mackerel. For any special occasion that would warrant spending a couple of hundred dollars on raw fish, you’re going to want to do it here.
Everything at this Belltown sushi spot is stellar (especially the baked crab handroll), but make sure you order at least one salmon sampler and one tuna sampler. The salmon version has four different cuts and styles, from seared belly to smoky ikura gunkan maki (roe on top of sushi rice with a nori belt). The tuna version is similar, only everything on the plate (lean tuna, negitoro, marinated tuna, and fatty tuna) is from the same fish. You should experience the omakase at the counter at some point, but even if you’re sitting at a table the servers will come over and brush a soy sauce and mirin mixture onto your nigiri, which makes your dinner feel special. A meal here is a great way to have an exceptional sushi experience while paying slightly less than you would for dinner at Sushi Kashiba.
Maneki opened in the International District in 1904, making it the oldest Japanese restaurant in Seattle. Try to have dinner in one of their tatami rooms, which is a quiet, private space in the back of the restaurant where you’ll take your shoes off and sit while someone periodically drops in to give you raw fish and beer. Every piece of nigiri you’ll get here is tender, cut perfectly, and has the highest quality-to-cost ratio in the city. Not to mention that there are always exciting specials like four different types of wild salmon or negitoro gunkan maki. Everything is pretty inexpensive for the quality and tastes just as great in the crowded dining area if you can’t get into a tatami room.
There are only eight seats at Taneda Sushi In Kaiseki, and with two seatings per night (one early in the evening and one during primetime), only 16 people eat at this Cap Hill spot every day. They serve such exceptional sushi that you should put in the work to get a reservation. This is an extremely special, intimate omakase involving about two dozen courses, and the chef will personally walk you through the origin and preparation of each type of fish during your meal. The menu changes every month, but some of our recent favorites were a sea salt-marinated flounder nigiri from Tokyo and seared A5 Miyazaki wagyu nigiri topped with caviar. For $110, it’s the best omakase value in town.
Kiriba is a sushi restaurant off the beaten path - it’s inside of a rickety old house with yellow siding up in Haller Lake that you’d probably drive past without noticing. We’d advise you to not miss this place because it’s our favorite casual sushi spot in Seattle. For pretty low prices (a meal should run about $30 per person), the nigiri and rolls are delicious, whether you’re ordering a roll with blowtorched parmesan and escolar or just some pieces of seared salmon belly or ponzu-marinated albacore. Plus, the servers are extremely friendly, and they play jazz piano covers over the speakers.
Liberty is first and foremost a cocktail bar, with drinks ranging from refreshing spiked blood orange shrubs to something called the JG Wentworth (Yes, named after the company with the 877-CASH-NOW jingle). But the most impressive thing about this dark, dog-friendly bar on Capitol Hill is the sushi they serve. You’ll find buttery nigiri and excellent California rolls topped with seared salmon and drizzled with spicy mayo and eel sauce. They also have a name-your-price option where you can select to pay either $15, $25, or $35, and the chef will whip up a unique mixed plate. This is a great place to come if you want to go out with your friends and get dinner on Capitol Hill.
If you have a mutual love for free stuff and wasabi, Toyoda is the casual sushi spot in Lake City for you. Everything on the menu comes with a complimentary noodle salad and miso soup. Any nigiri you get is on the larger side but is priced very reasonably. And, the amount of wasabi they use will probably make your nose tickle (in a good way). As for rolls, the tempura-fried spicy tuna roll is the best thing here. It’s light, crunchy, and comes with a delicious ponzu sauce for dipping.
The sushi at Tsukushinbo is so incredible that we once overheard someone tell the chef that he was moving to Tokyo tomorrow and wanted his last meal in the states to be here. Get some tempura and spicy tuna rolls at a table or watch the chef grind Himalayan rock salt with a cheese grater on top of a piece of barracuda at the sushi bar. Even if you’re here on a Saturday afternoon waiting with the masses for a bowl of weekend-only ramen, you should order some sushi on the side.
If you live in the M Street building on First Hill (or have any friends who do), you might notice that the lobby always smells like pickled ginger and rice. That’s because Sushi Kanpai is right next door. At lunch, you can get six pieces of excellent nigiri and a California roll for only $15 - something we’ve paid three times that amount at other spots in Seattle. The rice is always the perfect temperature and well-seasoned, and the specialty rolls are great, whether you choose one with baked salmon or spicy tuna. If we lived in an apartment upstairs, we’d be here for lunch on a daily basis.
By Tae is located inside of the Chophouse Row building on Capitol Hill. To get to their small sushi counter, you’ll have to walk by a bunch of other places including a wine bar, coworking space, bakery, and boutique. For $25, you’ll get three handrolls with perfectly-crisp nori and whatever fish the restaurant has available that day. The options range from scallops with salmon roe and scallions to hamachi belly with chrysanthemum greens and ponzu. During your meal, you’ll probably end up talking to the chef, so if he hears that you like a certain type of fish or roll, he might toss you a few pieces of sushi on the house.
Queen Anne has a ton of sushi spots, from casual takeout places to restaurants that specialize in conveyor belt sushi, and even somewhere that’s licensed to serve poisonous pufferfish. The best sushi in the neighborhood, however, is at Moontree Sushi & Tapas. We’d come here just for the spicy tuna on top of crispy rice, which is the best in town, but you should also take advantage of their lunch special. It’s $19 and includes a plate of excellent nigiri with fish like salmon, hamachi topped with scallion, and sea bream in a black pepper marinade.
If you’re a big fan of seared sushi, Aburiya Bento House in Belltown will become your personal Disneyland. Besides specializing in blowtorched nigiri, they also serve pressed aburi oshi rolls, which come in rectangular pieces, stuffed with spicy salmon or tuna, and topped with more salmon (or tuna) and aioli that gets flame-seared into the fish. Aburiya also serves toro nigiri topped with edible gold - order it if you want to feel like a celebrity during your lunch hour.
Kisaku is like two different sushi restaurants in one. By night, it’s a white-tablecloth spot for a semi-upscale celebration dinner with preset nigiri plates. By day, it’s more casual, and the best-kept lunchtime sushi secret in the city. For around $10, you get five pieces of nigiri, a California roll, and an order of miso soup. We like this place for either option, especially after working up an appetite walking around Green Lake.
If you’re looking for some great affordable sushi, it’s hard to find better prices than the ones they offer at Musashi’s in the ID. Sure, the selection is limited, and you’re not going to find things like toro or uni. But you will find fantastic tuna and torched salmon for around $2 per piece as well as a six-piece hamachi roll for $4. There’s a ton of tables in this casual space, which makes it perfect for a dinner with friends when you need to spend your money on other things, like more sushi.
Village Sushi is a casual spot in the University District that feels like band practice in a hip basement. There are glass tables, shelves of vinyl records, and musical instruments set up as if a live performance was going to happen at any moment. And it’s very difficult to have a bad meal here. You’ll find tasty nigiri, rolls, and fish that’s flown in from Japan like fluke and skipjack. Anything that’s seared here is also going to be delicious.
Wataru is a great middle-tier, date-night sushi spot - you could come wearing a plaid flannel and not feel out of place, even though the menu is expensive. The nigiri ranges from Hokkaido scallops topped with bamboo salt to the lightly seared black cod that we wouldn’t mind eating an entire plate of. You should know that it’s pretty hard to get a seat at the omakase counter, but it’s not impossible to get a table for two. When you’re at a table, there are a couple of pre-set dinner options (none are more expensive than $58), and both come with superb appetizers like a fish cake slider with lotus roots as buns and sweet and sour-style eggplant.