By: Fiona Moriarty, Hipmunk
For #internationalsushiday there will be many listicles out there about the Top X best sushi places in the country. Snore. The real story is how to find great sushi (fresh, sustainable, elegant) without paying $40 a roll. The trick? Search the strip malls. You should be looking for sushi restaurants who are killing it in a strip mall near you. Here's proof.
Sushi Miyagi - Houston, TX
Everything doesn't have to be bigger in Texas including its restaurant size. Nestled in Houston's Chinatown neighborhood, Sushi Miyagi is one of the few Japanese owned joints in the city and the mom-and-pop shop know how to do sushi right. With Miyagi himself as the Sushi Chef and his wife lone waitress and creative director, Sushi Miyagi delivers authentic, fastidiously prepared options at an accessible price.
Sushi Ota - San Diego, CA
Ah, nothing says "EAT HERE" like a restaurant sandwiched between a car dealership and your favorite Slurpee provider. Sushi Ota in San Diego hides inventive offerings like trumpet fish, red eyed snapper and mackerel pike behind the blandest facade imaginable. Go all out with the omakase; you'll be celebrating your parade of sushi with flags and banners as each offering builds to a delightful crescendo of Adzuki Ice Cream and a full stomach.
Tokkuri-Tei - Honolulu, HI
We're going to include Tokkuri-Tei as an honorary member of the Sushi Strip Mall club because for so long, it hid its gloriousness behind newspapered windows in a decrepit shop front. Guests at Aston Waikiki Hotel would follow recommendations for the restaurant, but upon visiting, turn away thinking they had the wrong address. Some of their most popular options include a tender chopped Toro with scallion roll and an exhaustive sake list that complements its wide array of sashimi and nigiri options. Tukkuri Tei does of course mean "Sake Shop," and they certainly live up to that moniker.
You may be thinking well these are just one offs. Sushi is overpriced and fancy everywhere else. I give you the LA sushi scene as a final KO to that theory. LA has several killer options for you to explore strip mall offerings at their finest. We suggest booking a weekend stay and filling your belly with excellent fish without paying a ridiculous price.
Sushi Kimaguri Ike - Super famous sushi chef opens big time restaurant. Kicks butt; trains new chefs that don't do his legacy justice. He opens a small shop in a strip mall to reclaim his dominance in the sushi scene.
Sushi Gen - Go to Little Tokyo. Find a strip mall with a long line waiting at a nondescript place. Bring no friends/spouses etc. to avoid waiting forever. Sit at the Sushi Bar. Order the omakase let the magic happen.
Sushi Park - What they don't do...Trendy Rolls, California Rolls and take out.What they will do? A brilliant omakase with luscious Toro that is way tastier than anything Joe's Pizza, their upstairs neighbor... is offering.
Last, but not least. Extend your trip an extra day and head to the San Fernando Valley. Stay at the Hotel Amarano or the Custom Hotel and the next morning, get your sushi pants on and go to Go's Park.
Celebrated by Jonathan Gold, a Pulitzer Prize winning food author, this off-the beaten highway destination will blow you away with silky sea bass, lush butterfish amongst a myriad of other options. Bootleg Bonus: Go's also used to be a rental store for VHS and DVDs. I give it 5 stars.
Do you know of an amazing strip mall sushi place near you? Tweet @thehipmunk and let us know about it!