On the hunt for the best California rolls in Dublin? Your search is over
Saoirse-Monica Jackson of Derry Girls fame recently described her indifference to sushi on the Dish podcast. Her argument goes that- it's just rice and raw fish at the end of the day. While sometimes it can indeed be a coagulase of clumpy rice, flavourless fish and a consortium of fillers or toppings, we would argue that not all sushi restaurants were created equal and maybe Mrs Jackson ("ooo ooo I am for real") hasn't really experienced all that sushi has to offer.
For the decade I've been delving into sushi, ever since I first sat at the conveyor belt of dreams known as Yo Sushi (feel like pure sh*t, just want her back) Japanese cuisine has been within my top three favourite kinds of food. Sushi is so versatile; it's the kind of food that can be casual, a takeaway lunch option when you've accidentally on purpose left your microwaveable leftovers at home again, or a special occasion, worthy of putting on that pair of heels normally reserved for weddings or wrestling with the Dyson Air Wrap for an hour.
Dublin doesn't exactly have an abundance of sushi spots per se in the way it does pizza spots, burrito spots, burger spots (we could go on), but lucky for us the small selection is mighty, particularly in the city centre, and all at varying price points. So while SMJ may not be impressed much, Shania Twain style, by the concept of raw fish atop seaweed-wrapped rice, I can say that we Dubliners certainly are, and here are the top 10 places to get it in Dublin:
Kicking things off with a strong contender, at Eatokyo you get a serious amount of bang for your buck. Norimaki plates all sit under €10, the same which can't be said for other locations that feature on this list. You get some choice over how many rolls you get, which is great if your love language is the opposite of Joey Tribbani's and is sharing food; you can opt for four or eight pieces of their chef-selection futomaki, ensuring you don't leave the premises without trying every rice and fish combination your heart desires.
It is the kind of restaurant where I suggest you opt to wear something with a stretchy waistband to allow for maximum comfort as you tuck in - Eatokyo is on the more casual side, so you won't feel underdressed if you decide to leave the bodycon dress or restrictive belt at home, but the tastiness of the food will assure you that date night was not wasted on this restaurant.
Throw in the friendly and efficient service, and Eatokyo earns its position as one of the best places for sushi in Dublin.
Go for? An affordable sushi feast
Eatokyo has three Dublin locations in the city, one in Temple Bar, one on Capel Street, and one on Talbot Street.
Exchequer Street, Dublin 2
Ukiyo is a self-proclaimed melting pot of food, cocktails, disco dancing and efficient service, and it does sushi that will have you craving another plate as soon as you've dropped your chopsticks.
With sharing plates, otoshi (lil apps), and the option to choose how many pieces of a certain dish you want, you are in charge of exactly how much food you get - as a believer in fuelling your body ahead of a boogie, you don't want to stuff yourself, but a little soakage is essential.
Perhaps on the pricier side (a plate of eight norimaki rolls costing a minimum of €15, and as much as €23), the price is justified by the quality of ingredients, technique, creativity and flair. If you fancy branching out from your run-of-the-mill salmon and avocado and opting for something a lil different, this is the place. One of the longest-operating sushi restaurants in Dublin, like a fine wine, this restaurant only gets better with age.
Go for? Something a bit different from your usual California roll
Ukiyo opens daily from 12pm until late.
Dawson Street, Dublin 2
You might be familiar with Maneki from roaring out Total Eclipse of the Heart at karaoke, but if you're the kind of person who finds themselves starved after belting out eighties classics, then a dinner before you start necking the sake pornstar martinis is in order.
The Dawson Street restaurant serves modern Japanese cuisine, with several kinds of sushi rolls and sashimi depending on your taste. Prices are similar to that in Ukiyo - the grander dishes such as their eight-piece Godzilla sushi roll (which is deep-fried, by the by) will cost you over €20 for a plate, but given how beautifully the food is presented, we'd find it difficult to pass up.
And if you're someone who has since left your raw fish days behind you, but still miss the sting of wasabi in your nostrils, Maneki also has a whole vegan side of their menu so you can still enjoy the non-fish aspects of sushi. In the summertime, you can also dine al fresco while people watch the crush of Dawson Street.
Go for? Some karaoke after your soosh
Maneki opens daily from 12pm and serves both lunch and dinner.
Of all the spots on this list, Musashi has taken the most of my money. I have been ordering from this place for years, eating unquantifiable amounts of eel avocado norimaki, prawn tempura, and gallons of miso soup by this point. I've sat inside for romantic meals, ordered takeaway for a night on the couch with Netflix, or met pals on lunch breaks for a speedy catch-up that involves swapping some salmon nigiri for bluefin tuna - you're never disappointed with a feast. The staff are attentive while also allowing you the privacy to enjoy your meal and the food is always made fresh to order, and tastes it, unlike that unique taste that comes from supermarket sushi.
Luckily, there are multiple Musashi locations around the city, so you're hopefully never too far from one of their sushi havens.
Go for? Sushi on a budget
There are seven Musashi locations across Dublin.
Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1
One of the signs of a great Dublin restaurant is the constant queue of people outside it, and Takara on Abbey Street Upper often boasts this trait. While the wait might put you off dining here, it is well worth it for the authentic sushi rolls and the jovial ambience inside the small but intimate space.
The service is as friendly as it is quick, rewarding your patience if you do decide to wait in a queue out the door. If you're unsure what to get given the large selection, we recommend ordering one of the sushi sets; not only are they incredibly affordable, sitting around the €13.45 mark, you get a serious amount of food. For example, we would suggest ordering the Takara Rainbow Set, which consists of two tuna avocado, two eel avocado, two salmon avocado, two tuna nigiri, two salmon nigiri, one taco octopus-nigiri, and one sweet shrimp nigiri.
Takara also has those delightfully kitsch sushi menus that come with an accompanying photograph of the dish, which is undeniably helpful no matter how seasoned of a sushi eater you are. Next time you're doing some shopping in Jervis, order Takara for a post-browsing meal.
Go for? Sushi worth queuing for
You can check out Takara's opening and delivery hours on their website.
Beloved by office workers for their budget-friendly and super-filling bento box, Zakura has a whole lot more to offer than lunchtime fare. There's a great relaxed atmosphere created by the kind and attentive staff members, it's the kind of place you can come for a solitary meal, a big group meet up or a long overdue catchup, and feel properly catered to. There are some great flavours on the menu especially if you dine in, with a great variety of seafood available from eel, salmon, tuna, squid, or yellowtail. As with restaurants like Eatokyo and Musashi, Zakura is on the more affordable side of the sushi spectrum, even offering BYOB for just a €6 corkage fee per bottle. We don't need to tell you how spenny a bottle of wine can get in this city, so the bring your own aspect of this restaurant is a great way to avoid a €40 bottle of pinot grigio to your bill.
It's a great place to head to before a big night out, with great food, efficient service and some great J-pop playing on the sound system!
Go for? BYOB sushi
There are four Zakura locations in Dublin.
Parliament Street, Dublin 2
One of Dublin's most popular food trends was the rise of burritos. Reaching max hyper-fixation in 2015, queues of students and office workers could be seen forming outside the likes of Boojum, Tolteca, Little Ass, Zambrero, and more, and while they're not quite all the rage anymore, they're still a very consistent casual lunch or dinner.
It should come as no surprise that the trend has since metamorphosed into something else, which is where Sumaki shines. The sushi burrito swaps out the traditional beans, peppers, and meat for avocado, raw fish, and shredded carrots, contained in a seaweed blanket instead of a tortilla wrap, Sumaki provides the burrito experience for the pescatarians of the world - perhaps this would appeal to Saoirse-Monica Jackson more, despite the fact she's experienced the sushi at Nobu.
Go for? Sushi burritos
Sumaki opens seven days a week from 11:30 to 20:00.
3. Tokyo Kitchen
Bow Street, Dublin 7
Tokyo Kitchen might be a spot you easily walk by, but if you're a lover of raw fish, we can't emphasise how much you ought to give this little hole-in-the-wall a chance. Usually frequented by barristers, film students and trendy types this spot off a Smithfield backstreet is worth donning the carhartt/wig for. The sushi is prepared by chefs with over a decade of experience in this art, expertly rolled and using fresh and healthy ingredients. If you're particularly daring, nothing will prove this restaurant's worth more than the daily sushi platter, a collection of nigiri, the chef's choice of norimaki, and the chef's special seafood dish, which starts at the very reasonable €12.95.
While there is no indoor seating at Tokyo Kitchen, the quality of their fish and rolls places them high on our list and great if you want to take your food away, be that on your lunch hour, or for an evening on the couch with a hot water bottle and bad TV. Dare we call this place a hidden gem in Dublin? I think we do.
Go for? Tasty sushi on the go
Tokyo Kitchen is closed on Mondays but open Tuesday through to Sunday until late. You can check out the menu here.
Parliament Street, Dublin 2
Daruma hit the Dublin food scene with a bit of a bang last year, the authentic Japanese tapas/yakitori-style restaurant is offering up something a little bit different to fans of Japanese cuisine. They have positioned themselves as an affordable go-to post-work and post-pints hangout spot, where you can catch up over some small plates and some incredible cocktails. It's a truly exciting menu, which will have you ordering nearly everything, from lotus roots chips to a4 wagyu. Experimentation doesn't stop at the food menu, the team at Daruma are genuinely creating some of the most sensational cocktails in Dublin right now, with particular emphasis on sake-based tipples.
This is as authentic as you are likely to get in the city right now, so pull up a stool, get ordering and enjoy every bite!
Go for? Sake cocktails
Daruma opens between 12.00 and 22.00 Tuesday to Saturday, and 12.00 to 21.00 on Sunday. Check out the menu here.
Queen Street, Dublin 7
Taking over from vegan café Woke Cup in September is both the newest sushi spot to Dublin, and the best. Chef Takuma Tamaoki (formerly of Galway's Wa Sushi) is behind the counter delicately forming rice and slicing aged and preserved tidy sections of fish. A lot of thought has been placed into every shelf, countertop and table, everything is thought-out and well-considered.
Omakase which roughly translates as "I'll leave it up to you" is a traditional way of serving sushi, which sees patrons sit at the bar while the chef serves them directly. Each course is seasonal and elegant, using the finest ingredients available and simple preparations. It's a dining style steeped in ritual, and in keeping with traditional sushi bars in Japan which usually don't have menus at all. Matsukawa is not for casual dining; an evening here will set you back €100pp, before you add any drinks, but true sushi enthusiasts will get a kick out of the omakase experience.
Go for? An unforgettable meal with a fellow sushi connoisseur
Matsukawa opens Wednesday to Sunday between 17:00 and 22:00; it books up quickly given the nature of the space - you can make a reservation here.
Have we missed any of the best sushi spots in Dublin? Let us know at [email protected].