Sushi, as we know it today, was invented during the Edo Period between 1600 and 1800. This storied Japanese cuisine has taken off in the U.S., and the world celebrates it on June 18. Boston's proximity to the sea means there's a wealth of super-fresh seafood to make top-notch sushi. These are the spots.
Known for its modern interpretation of classic sushi dishes, Sakana holds its own against another neighborhood sushi institution, Cafe Sushi. The sushi entrees offer an excellent selection of different fish so you can taste your way through all the delicacies of the sea. The sashimi dinner includes 15 pieces of the chef's selection, and the nigiri dinner includes eight pieces as well as a tuna roll. The signature maki menu is bursting with inventive rolls. Try the "Rocky Road" with fried onions, spicy crumbs, and cucumber on the inside and salmon, tuna, roe, and tobiko on the outside with a mango sauce.
About a hundred years ago, thousands of Japanese migrants came to Peru. They began cooking the dishes they knew from home using the local Peruvian ingredients, and Nikkei cuisine was born. Ruka is doing Nikkei fare better than anyone else in Boston. The "Papa Gordo" maki roll lives up to its name stuffed with fatty tuna, tempura shrimp, pickled daikon, kanzuri yum yum, and tobiko. Sushi isn't the only way to enjoy raw fish here. The hamachi ceviche is an incredibly refreshing blend of charred jalapeño, coconut, Leche de Tigre (citrusy, spicy marinade), avocado, Okinawan chips, and sushi rice.
If you've got the cash (and you'll need a lot of it), O Ya is the most luxurious omakase experience in Boston. The full experience will set you back $250 before gratuity and beverages, but it's worth it for the approximately 20 courses of nigiri, sashimi, and cooked dishes. If that's a little too much buck for the bang, the sister restaurant Gogo Ya is popping up at O Ya for take-out. The crispy nori sushi tacos are a memorable way to celebrate International Sushi Day and come in torched salmon teriyaki, spicy tuna, and spicy scorched hamachi flavors. Signature maki rolls are also available, like the shiitake tempura roll with black truffle salsa, miso, and fried garlic.
The Mad Monkfish
If you like music and sushi, then head to Cambridge's funky sushi spot, The Mad Monkfish. Listen to live jazz while chowing down on themed sushi rolls. Face the music with "Gaga's Monster Roll" stuffed with octopus, cucumber, tiger shrimp, kanikama, tempura crunch, tobiko. The massive roll is then draped in tuna, multi-colored tobiko, and drizzled with spicy mayo and ponzu. The fairytale-themed rolls pay homage to beloved storybook characters like Princess Aurora. The "Sleeping Beauty" roll is as blonde as the princess herself with yellowtail, pineapple, and tempura flakes wrapped in yellow soy paper then draped in salmon and fresh mango. There is also a long list of no-fuss nigiri, sashimi, and traditional rolls.
Uni has set up semi-private dining suites and outdoor dining space to serve its full a la carte menu. The extensive nigiri menu (two pieces per order) showcases the versatility of seafood with curated accouterments. The raw Japanese squid is served brushed with a black pepper-uni butter and spot prawns with a yuzu-egg yolk vinaigrette, lime, and garlic enhancement. Non-fish nigiri has equally luxurious options like foie gras with bananas foster, coconut, and coffee oil or A5 wagyu sirloin. The sashimi menu spares no expense in pursuit of luxury. The uni sashimi is a spoonful of splendor with osetra caviar, quail egg yolk, and yuzu.
There are five Genki Ya outposts throughout Boston, so you're always close to great sushi. The flagship location in Brookline opened in 2007, and the community was immediately supportive of the affordable and extensive sushi menu. There are more than 30 nigiri options, including flying fish roe, fluke, striped bass, and pickled mackerel. There are 28 specialty maki rolls and nearly 50 classic rolls. Not into eating raw fish? Genki Ya has numerous vegetarian rolls like the ABC roll stuffed with avocado, banana, and cream cheese, along with fun fusion rolls like the "Boston Flower Roll," which has both salmon and shrimp, cucumber, roe, and green vegetables topped with aioli. It's the perfect roll to celebrate International Sushi Day in Boston.