Finding the best restaurants in a different town isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Like anything else, there are some eateries that are better than others. That statement could never be more true where sushi is concerned. When prepared properly, it can easily be some of the best food you’ve ever eaten. Even those who are staunchly against trying it become converts once they sink their teeth into some sushi made by someone who knows how to do it right.
The question is, how do you know which sushi restaurants are the best? If you are in (or near) Pasadena, California, here are 20 of the best. Some have larger, more creative menu options than others, but they all have one thing in common. The food prepared in these locations is so good you’ll want to come back again and again. Here are the restaurants, ranked from number 20 to number one.
20. Mama M Sushi (29 E Holly St)
The main menu options here are more contemporary than some of the other eateries on this list. In fact, the restaurant tends to place a special emphasis on more modern-day dishes, effectively bringing traditional sushi dishes into this century by giving them a unique flair. While you won’t find any purely traditional sushi options here, you will find plenty of them rooted in tradition. It’s a great take on the more steadfast dishes that you can find almost anywhere. Currently, you can order take-out or opt for curbside delivery, as the dining room is closed for the time being.
19. Kaviar Sushi Bar (70 N Raymond Ave, #250)
There’s a reason this location is commonly rated 4.5 out of 5 stars. They offer some of the best food in Pasadena. In fact, the restaurant has such an excellent reputation that people come from far and wide just to eat there. If you plan on becoming one of them, you should go online and reserve a table. Not only are reservations required at this upscale eatery, but they tend to book up very quickly. You can enjoy all the traditional sushi dishes your heart desires, but only if you plan ahead. Of course, they also have cooked options on their Japanese menu as well. The dress code is business casual, at the very least. If that doesn’t resonate with you, they also offer carry-out and delivery.
18. Sushi Roku (33 Miller Alley)
Reservations are required here as well. That being said, the type of food prepared here is vastly different from the more traditional options. Everything is done with a modern-day attitude here. From the decor of the dining room to the dishes themselves, it’s like eating some of the best sushi you’ve ever had, all while having the chance to try something completely new. Their formula works because they stay so busy that it’s practically impossible to get a table unless you make a reservation well in advance.
17. Aiken Sushi & Ramen (735 E Green St)
The main focus of this restaurant is to create great tasting food at prices that almost anyone can comfortably afford. They prepare a wide array of traditional sushi (including rolls) as well as cooked options. As you can obviously see from the name, they specialize in noodles just as much as they do sushi. If you’re looking for a place that prepares more common menu items without pretense, this is a great place to go. The food is always good, it’s affordable, and you can eat in the cozy dining room or enjoy take-out at home.
16. Sugarfish (146 S Lake Ave, #108)
The people in Pasadena absolutely love this place, there is no question about it. If you were to take a survey regarding the best sushi restaurants in the city, there is little question that this one would come up repeatedly. They focus on traditional fare such as rolls and sake. The menu items aren’t as extensive as some, but the food is delicious. Moreover, you can enjoy it all in their slightly upscale dining room that is as cozy as it is intimate. Of course, they also have other options such as take-out and delivery.
15. SushiStop Pasadena (58 E Colorado Blvd)
Located in the Foothill Rosemeade Market Place, this is an ideal place to go if you just want to grab a quick bite to eat without a lot of fanfare. They don’t have the most inclusive menu, opting instead for a more basic traditional offering. This isn’t a place that focuses a lot on appearances. They have a modest location that some people might even describe as unassuming. That being said, the food is amazing (and affordable), the place is clean and the service is top-notch.
14. Gin Sushi (3589 E Colorado Blvd)
If you’re looking for a restaurant that has an atmosphere as good as the food they serve, you don’t need to look any further. They have a number of different sushi items here, but they specialize in rolls (you haven’t really had a sushi roll until you enjoy one here). Their dining room is casual and cozy, made from brick and just big enough to give you some space without making you feel like you have to shout to be heard in a conversation. In short, it’s a near-perfect eatery that will leave you dreaming of more, even for non-sushi fans.
13. Takuya Japanese Restaurant (694 E Colorado Blvd)
If you don’t already know where this place is, you’re likely to miss it. That’s because it’s actually located inside Arcade Lane-Pasadena as opposed to having its own standalone location. You shouldn’t let that deter you from eating here. It may not be the easiest place to find and yes, the building is quite modest. Don’t let that make you think for even a minute that the food prepared here isn't something special. In addition to sushi, they also have noodles and rice bowls. If you’re in the mood to eat outdoors, you can enjoy your meal on the patio.
12. Kabuki Japanese Restaurant (88 W Colorado Blvd)
Most people would probably describe this place as feeling more like a club than a restaurant. They definitely know how to have fun here. The place is usually buzzing and it’s typically loud. If that works for you, great. If it doesn’t, you’d do well for yourself to try their take-out or delivery because the food is amazing. They have traditional Japanese sushi and cooked dishes. You can also take advantage of their lunch specials. They even have happy hour specials every day.
11. Sushi Enya Pasadena (124 E Colorado Blvd)
They don’t just serve sushi here, but all kinds of Japanese menu options. That makes it a great place to go when you have those in your party who simply don’t enjoy sushi. That being said, those individuals may change their minds once they try a few of the options available here. As far as the atmosphere is concerned, it’s about as basic as it gets. That means there is no need to dress up, so come as you are and enjoy.
10. Sushi Karen (633 S Arroyo Pkwy)
You might not expect much from a sushi restaurant located inside a doughnut shop, but it would be a mistake to leave this place off your list. The food is outstanding. In fact, the location routinely received 5-star reviews. They keep it basic, serving traditional sushi dishes and rolls. They don’t deliver, but it’s worth the trip. They also have some of the best prices in the city.
9. ICHIMA (325 N Rosemead Blvd)
This is a great restaurant with an incredibly cozy atmosphere. You can order online and even register to pick up your order ahead of time so you don’t have to wait in line. They have all kinds of sushi, both traditional and more modern dishes. They also have cooked Japanese fare available.
8. Yes Sushi (3500 E Colorado Blvd, #100)
The thing this location has going for it is the price. As a matter of fact, they offer some of the freshest ingredients in town at this price point, something that is easily affordable for almost every budget. The thing that really sets them apart is that their food doesn't taste like it's been prepared with the cheapest ingredients possible. Somehow, they're able to buy fresh ingredients that allow you to taste the difference, all without charging as much as virtually everyone else.
7. Go Go Sushi (2269 E Colorado Blvd)
This is an interesting name to choose for a restaurant. It makes people who are old enough to remember, recall the days of go-go dancing that were so popular in the 1970s. In this particular case, it also has a very practical sense, as the food is actually plucked off a conveyor belt when purchased. Typically, they have the types of sushi you would expect to find in a place that prepares food that can be purchased and eaten quickly, such as during the lunch rush. That includes a lot of traditional sushi rolls, all of which are available for immediate purchase. If you prefer, they do have a few tables tucked away on the side of the dining room, but most people simply grab the food off the conveyor belt and go.
6. Oji Sushi & Sake Bar (624 E Colorado Blvd)
This is a rather unassuming location to enjoy some of the most delicious traditional sushi that you'll ever eat. They have a variety of sushi rolls available that you can enjoy in a cozy environment. They also have takeout and delivery. They don't take reservations, so you'll simply have to show up and hope that you can get a table. This is one of the most popular restaurants in the city, so if you're trying to get a table during peak hours, you might be waiting a while. Rest assured, it's definitely worth the wait. You won't regret it.
5. Osawa (77 N Raymond Ave)
This place is memorable because they have an upscale interior with a bar that runs the length of the dining room, staffed with experienced sushi chefs who prepare your meal right in front of you. They use only the finest ingredients and prepare a number of custom dishes. This is one of the more expensive sushi options in town, but it’s also worth it. The upscale dining room adds to the atmosphere, making the experience that much better. Obviously, you’ll need formal attire to eat here. You also have to make a reservation.
4. Oba Sushi Izakaya (181 E Glenarm St, #106)
They have a lot of variety so you can get almost anything you want here. In addition to traditional sushi and sashimi, they also have all kinds of tapas on the menu. They also have a full bar. While they have some of the best tasting food in town, you don’t have to worry about paying too much for it, as it’s reasonably priced. It’s also a place you can go when you want a cozy atmosphere that doesn’t require you to get dressed up.
3. Matsuri Restaurant (1065 E Green St)
There is nothing pretentious about this location. It’s about as cozy as it can get. That being said, they have all kinds of traditional sushi. What if you're not in the mood for sushi? No worries, they also have noodles and other Japanese dishes. They may be known for their outstanding sushi dishes, but you won’t be disappointed in anything on the menu.
2. Noda Restaurant (546 S Lake Ave)
This is a cute, affordable little eatery where you can enjoy delicious traditional sushi in the dining room or outdoors. They have some of the best food you’ll ever eat, but it’s just as much about enjoying the right atmosphere as anything else. You can’t go wrong here. The atmosphere is both relaxing and inviting. They also offer take-out and delivery, but you would probably rather eat there where you can take it all in.
1. Tokyo Wako Pasadena (300 E Colorado Blvd, #261)
They specialize in both sushi and steaks. Moreover, they prepare all of it right there at your table. In fact, this is one of the more upscale restaurants in the city. They also have one of the most contemporary interiors that gives off a futuristic feel. You’ll have to dress well and make reservations, but it is definitely worth it.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn