So far from a coast, one might not expect to find a thriving, competitive, and delicioussushi scene in a city like Kansas City. But, as often when one makes assumptions, one would be wrong. If you’re looking for the best sushi in Kansas City, then look no further.
There are options in our great city for sushi-lovers and beginners alike. Whether you want a classic taste of sliced sashimi, creative and delightful rolls, hand-rolled maki or a taste of the beers and sakis of Japan, Kansas City can deliver. I’ve narrowed it down to my five favorites, but it wasn’t easy!
Top Five Sushi Restaurants in Kansas City
Narrowing the sushi options in this town down to just five places was tricky. I feel compelled to disclaim that this is only a tiny taste of what Kansas City has to offer its residents in the way of knowledgeably-crafted and fresh sushi. One of the beautiful things about a city this size is that it’s always ebbing and flowing – new options and vivid locales arise to surprise us all the time! This list is to get you started exploring KC’s sushi scene. This review is also entirely subjective for my whims and tastes and in no particular order.
Quickly becoming a downtown staple, Nara sits minutes from the Sprint Center, and directly off the Streetcar Route. I love Nara for it’s trendy, American-fusion vibe, energized atmosphere, and their delicious Nara roll. You can’t go wrong on their sushi menu. They have lovely sushi classics, sashimi, and creative rolls like their alligator roll! Also an excellent choice for lunch or Happy Hour (Service Industry Night is Tuesday!), Nara is a superb spot for sushi-lovers and those just dipping their toes in.
I’d order: A Nara roll, a Sexy Mama roll, and the Congo-Kai sushi (because eating conch which makes me feel like I’m in the Florida Keys!)
If you’re on the side of the state line, Westwood has a treat for you on the Kansas side. Blue Sushi boasts a sustainable sushi and sashimi menu, great happy hour deals, and shines at offering vegan and vegetarian substitutions on their list. The laid-back and airy vibe is inviting, and the fish is fresh. Large tables and great happy hour deals make it perfect for a group!
I’d order: A Sake Toro sashimi (Salmon belly from the British Isles), some Uni (a California sea urchin,) and copious of choices from their extensive Sake menu.
Low-key and unpretentious, Bob’s is likely my favorite sushi in the city. Sit at the bar and watch skilled sushi chefs cut from fresh fillets or order a-la-carte from the cozy tables. Their menu is authentic and genuine to the sushi craft, while simultaneously offering unique and more difficult to find ingredients. The sashimi and nigiri are the real stars here, and be sure to ask your server about daily specials since they change all the time! The Chef’s Choice at Bob’s will never lead you astray.
I’d order: Always, always, always ask your server. And then obey. Also, the Ama-Ebi, because I can’t resist.
Friend’s makes the list for not only their fresh and delicious rolls and sashimi cuts, but their keenly presented Bento Boxes. Yummy sushi rolls, these efficient and darling Japenese style lunch boxes, and a cozy location on the trendy 39th street make this a popular spot for lunch and take-out. (Note, their space is small! Best to plan if you’d like to dine in.) Alongside a creative list of maki, veggie, and classic sushi rolls, dinner options here include a variety of Ramen and Udon noodle soups.
I’d order: A Bento Box and a BBQ Eel Maki Roll. And A Sapporo or a Kirin Ichiban to wash it down.
A gem north of the river, this contemporary-style restaurant consistently puts out high-quality cuts of sushi and sashimi, flavorful rolls, and hibachi-style dinners. The sushi bar is the center of the restaurant, so you get a front-row seat to the rolling and serving. They boast an all-you-can-eat buffet every Sunday for twenty-five dollars, making this a fun and surprising locale.
I’d order: A house sashimi platter sampling their creative fish and roes. Octopus and Cuttle Fish, anyone?
Bonus sushi! I couldn’t leave off one of my new favorites; a charming hole-in-the-wall vibe in the Crossroads, new-ish to the neighborhood. While not strictly a sushi restaurant, they offer a full sushi and sashimi menu alongside a variety of Korean eats (my favorite is the Bi Bim Bap Bowl). I had to make a last-minute addition to this cozy locale offering tasty sushi in a fun, creative location.
I’d order: Seriously, that Bi Bim Bap bowl. Pairing your selection of sushi and sashimi makes a perfect meal.
What is Sushi?
When you think of sushi, some of you may think solely of eating raw fish – a common misconception! (Sashimi is fresh fish of its own, which we will talk about in a minute.) “Sushi” refers to the Japanese method of creating dishes with vinegared rice – often paired with seafood, vegetables, or other meats. When Japanese cuisine landed in the United States in the early 1900s, these salty rice dishes were the most palatable to the western palate.
Japanese immigrants would often pair sushi with sashimi, leading to the popular notion in Americans that “sushi” encompasses all raw fish prepared in the Japanese style. Sushi rolls containing rice on the outside even further popularized this concept with Americans.
What is Sashimi?
Sashimi is literally “sliced, raw, protein.” In this concept, it refers only to the slices of raw fish served, without the addition of rice or other ingredients. If you consider yourself a sushi newb, this might be the part where you turn up your nose, but don’t! Humans have been eating raw fish since the 8th century, and it’s not as scary as you might think.
My advice is to start with the Hamachi, a slice of yellowtail that tastes buttery and sweet. Raw ahi tuna is also a popular choice for its rich flavor and soft texture. Pick a fish you like cooked, and try it fresh!
Luckily for you, and all of us, sushi and sashimi are both available in delicious varieties and by skilled chefs and crafters. Stop in one of the above locales, or do your research and find one I missed!