Ten Best Sushi Restaurants in Palm Beach County
Despite our proximity to the ocean and the nearby bounty of fresh catches we South Floridians can find year-round, attempting to find fresh sushi in our tropical paradise can be an entirely different ball game. And the fact that we are literally leagues away from the world's best fish markets makes it that much more apparent.
But what we lack in esteemed sushi joints, we make up for with variety. We've got everything from creative chefs that light up our taste buds with downright indulgent omakase experiences, to menus rife with specialty rolls -- even buffet-style spaces that churn out sushi and sashimi on a rotating conveyer belt.
But which among them are the best in Palm Beach County? To find out, we did some sampling. Yes, our pockets have been emptied -- and our mercury levels are slightly elevated -- but man, was it worth it.
10. Sushi Yama Siam
These stylish modern Japanese eateries (there's one in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach) feature a bento-box special with a variety of choices for lunch -- a real value deal. Start with unique starter sushi plates, appetizers like squid pasta or spicy conch or octopus salad. Rolls and tempuras or teriyaki are the way to go. Boats full of sushi and sashimi serve two to five people. Off the sushi menu find plenty of temaki -- hand rolls -- and look for dozens of signature rolls like the sunrise roll, deep fried tuna with salmon, krab, cream cheese and cucumber with a sweet and spicy sauce. There are also several rice-free rolls for those looking for just the raw fish.
Lemon Grass is swank sushi spot, but even though it looks pricey, the price is right. The menu at the Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach restaurants verges on gigantic, but its easy to navigate, and unlike other multipage menus, this one hangs together beautifully and never loses focus, effortlessly drawing out Vietnamese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Thai, and Japanese threads. From the sushi bar, a gorgeously designed plate of tuna tataki is arranged like a Chinese fan; a plate of tiny whole baby octopuses slathered with a sweet and rich deep-red marinade pop when you chew them -- a visceral effect that takes some getting used to, but theyre wonderful. Vietnamese-style summer rolls are a perfectly balanced ode to the season; won-ton soup with asparagus floats puck-sized homemade chicken dumplings in a clear broth with napa cabbage.
8. Kontiki Wine and Raw Bar
Despite its remote location in the heart of Wellington, this Asian tapas and sushi house is worth the trip if you're in the mood for some creative rolls served in a fun, funky atmosphere. Aside from the varied list of sushi, sashimi and specialty rolls, the menu offers one of our favorite finds. The Kontiki sushi bomb is a highlight here, a tempera-style roll stuffed with tuna, salmon, white fish, avocado, asparagus, scallion, sesame and masago that is deep-fried and topped with the house spicy bomb sauce. It comes in a lobster version, too, if you're feeling extra fancy.
This high-class sushi restaurant is part of The Breakers resort. It's a hip, modern space with a large outdoor seating area, but the place to be is the long, theater-style sushi bar where master chefs are on display as they put together rolls and plates with efficient precision. Here, it's all about attention to detail. Forget wood chopsticks. You'll get stainless steel for an upscale touch, instead -- a perfect match for the dishes coming from behind the bar. Ask your server for a side of specialty sauces, including a tart yuzu, savory garlic soy, sweet ponzu and a spicy kimchee sauce. You'll also find a rare treat: cobia. Commonly referred to as black salmon, the fish is served over sliced cucumbers with cilantro and garnished with yellow pea shoots. After your meal meander over to the nearby Dragonfly Lounge and choose from an innovative array of cocktails, sake, domestic and imported beers and impressive wine list.
Union in downtown Delray Beach is best known for its amazing three-for-one happy hours and a party scene that begins on Thursday and rolls through the weekend. But what it should really be known for is its sushi bar, Candyfish. With more than 15 rolls to choose from, many experimental takes on sushi with non-traditional ingredients. The most popular are the Uber Sexy Steve, a combination of salmon, tuna, masago, cucumber, and cilantro topped with spicy tuna, yellowtail, avocado and jalapeno, finished with a yuzu soy sauce. Luckily, the happy hour now includes sushi -- so the half-price deal Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5-7 p.m. (and all night on Tuesday and Wednesday) makes this the best spot in Palm Beach County to score a good deal on some stellar sushi and drinks. Couple that with endless sushi and bottomless vodka or sake on Thursday night for only $29, and you can't go wrong.
5. Sushi Jo
With three locations across Palm Beach County -- West Palm Beach, Juno Beach and Boynton Beach -- Sushi Jo has a long history of serving up some of the best sushi in the area. Born and raised in Miami, owner Jo Clark started working in restaurants at the age of 13, and served his sushi apprenticeship for a decade at Yama in Lake Worth, where he worked with chefs from different parts of Japan. Clark admits it took five years before they would let him even handle the fish, but he learned everything from cutting vegetables, to preparing rice and sauces, as well as how to expertly source the highest quality fish. He opened his first Sushi Jo at the Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan, and the rest -- as they say -- is history. Celebrate with happy hour every day from 4-6 p.m., where you can order $5 rolls.
Yakitori has been a Boca Raton landmark destination in Royal Palm Plaza for those seeking authentic Japanese cuisine. Known for serving traditional Japanese dishes, and the extensive menu offers daily fresh catch appetizers and entrees. The menu has more than two dozen specialty and signature rolls, as well as an extensive offering of rice-free cucumber rolls served with the house ponzu sauce.
3. Sushi Simon
A nondescript Boynton Beach strip-mall just before the Woolbrite Blvd. bridge may be the last place you'd expect to find good sushi, but that's the deal with Sushi Simon. The eatery has earned praise from hardcore sushi fans for its ultra-fresh fish, and on off-nights you'll often find some of the area's top chefs dining out here. A three-page list of specialty rolls are rather pricey -- including the 2005 roll with Maine lobster priced at $25 -- but are worth the price. The real special, however, are the daily specials, which feature fresh-off-the-boat fish cut expertly into sushi and sashimi, or sliced thin as usuzukuri and lavished with ponzu, spicy kimchi sauce, and fresh herbs.
Owners Sam Slattery, Clay Conley and Piper Quinn have created a sushi house worth salivating over. Imoto, which means "little sister" in Japanese, is the Asian extension of chef Conley's highly acclaimed Buccan. And just like its older sister, Imoto's atmosphere is beautiful, yet unpretentious. The menu features cold sushi rolls and special sashimi with out-of-the-box ingredients like the tuna with mango, avocado mousse, and yucca. Not in the mood for the standard menu options. The Omakase chef's tasting will keep you surprised as chef Taiki serves you his personal delicacy of Asian flavors with an off-menu specialty you can't find anywhere else.
Famed local sushi chef Roy Villacrusis' new restaurant is partly thanks to restaurateur Charlie Soo, chef and owner of Talay Thai Cuisine, who had the foresight to partner with him to create a commingling of creative sushi and sashimi alongside his own modern interpretations of traditional Thai cuisine. Here, the sushi is more a creative journey than regular roll-out. The chef-driven menu rotates often depending on what's in store at the local Asian markets. Although the restaurant seats 40, you'll want to nab a spot at the four-seat sushi bar where Villacrusis dishes out a five-course tasting menu for about $10 a plate. Feeling adventurous? He won't stop until you say "when" if you can pony up per person for his omakase dinner; so far he's managed to churn out as many as 24 plates in one sitting. Here, exotic ingredients take center stage, but can push comfort zones. Most recently he's worked with Tai (Japanese red snapper) and whelk (sea snail) to offer a taste experience unlike any other.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.