Japanese-People Approved Best Japanese Restaurants in Boston

College town Boston has no shortage of Japanese restaurants, from affordable college budget spots to something reserved for let’s-go-there-when-family-is-in-town ultra luxury omakase sushi. It doesn’t hurt that Boston is one of the largest cities that offers some of the freshest seafood in the United States (New England clam chowder, anyone?). From Boston Harbor to Harvard Square, let’s find the best Japanese food that Beantown has to offer!

  1. Cafe Sushi (Sushi)
  2. O Ya (Sushi)
  3. Toraya (Sushi)
  4. Shiki (Kaiseki)
  5. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (Ramen)
  6. Yume Wo Katare (Ramen)
  7. Pabu Boston (Izakaya)
  8. UNI (Izakaya)
  9. Ittoku (Izakaya)
  10. Sakanaya (Fish Market)

1. Cafe Sushi



Photo Credit: https://www.cafesushicambridge.com/

Omakase starts at $80 per person, Cafe Sushi is one of the best omakase deals around! It’s not just the fresh sushi that makes this place famous; it’s the creativity. Chef Seizi Imura prepares each course with carefully dressed (don’t understand what this means), so you can enjoy the flavor of seasonal seafood at the best. A case in point, the red snapper is lightly seared to maximize the ‘butteriness’ of the fish, topped with cranberry sauce and a yuzu dusting. Boston Magazine picked Cafe Sushi as one of the best of Boston!


Photo Credit: https://www.cafesushicambridge.com/

What to order:

Omakase is reasonable, but you can also sample Cafe Sushi’s best with the “Sushi Dinner” which comes with 9 pieces of assorted nigiri and a roll. Their vegetarian sushi is equally delicious! Who doesn’t want wasabi oil and truffle salt on their sushi?

Restaurant Info of Cafe Sushi:

Navigation: 1105 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA
Ring: 617-492-0434
Surf: www.cafesushicambridge.com


2. O Ya


You are in it for a treat! Chefs Tim and Nancy Cushman created a sushi restaurant that perfectly balances the creative with the traditional. You’ll find magical bites such as: shiitake mushroom nigiri with truffle and honey, foie gras nigiri with balsamic chocolate kabayaki sauce (think of it as a grown up version of eel sauce), and the most photogenic of all, the negihama roll. Each dish, whether it’s nigiri, sashimi or an entree, is labor intensive; you’ll be pleasantly surprised there are so many layers of flavor to discover in each bite.

O Ya Sushi

Photo Credit: https://o-ya.restaurant/

What to order:

You can go grand with Grand Omakase for $285 with an additional $150 for beverage pairing. If that’s too much to commit to, there is plenty of sushi on the menu to choose from. If you love salmon, go with Ora King Salmon Belly with cilantro, ginger and a hot sesame oil drizzle. There are also plenty of vegetable sushi and wagyu dishes to choose from.

Restaurant Info of O Ya:

Navigation: 9 East St., Boston, MA 02111
Ring: 617-654-9900
Surf: http://o-ya.restaurant


3. Toraya


If you are on a first date at Toraya, and you both feel that you had an awesome time, there may be a chance for you two in the future. Because Toraya is not a sexy, dimly lit, trendy restaurant where you order artisanal cocktails and wagyu beef topped with caviar and truffles. Rather, it’s a brightly florescent lit sushi place in Arlington. Nothing about this place is sexy…. except for the fresh sushi, of course. Think of Toraya as a basic, reliable, genuine Japanese restaurant that is kind to your wallet. After all, isn’t that all you ask from your partner, too?

What to order:

Chirashi comes with more fish than you can name. Also their pork and fish katsu (panko breaded and deep fried cutlets) will satisfy your hunger like no other.

Restaurant Info of Toraya:

Navigation: 890 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, MA 02476
Ring: 781-641-7477
Surf: toraya.jimdo.com




Shiki is under the radar of many, but ask Japanese residents in Boston and they’ll all mention Shiki as one of their favorite and “authentic” restaurants. Specifically, they’ll probably mention Shiki’s Kaiseki lunch menu. It’s a beautiful assortment of typical dishes such as tempura, udon and sashimi presented on a tray. It’s a mom-and-pop type of restaurant, except, here, the mom and pop are nice Japanese people who want to feed you things like grilled eggplant miso glaze and cubed tuna with mountain yam.

What to order:

Lunch kaiseki plates starts at $13, but many Japanese folks are going for the $23 “Matsu” kaiseki lunch, which comes with pressed sushi and a mini savory egg custard. Pressed sushi, oshizushi, is their speciality, which means your choice of cured mackerel, shrimp or eel is pressed with sushi rice and placed in a box. It travels better, as it’s perfectly suited for take out!

Restaurant Info of Shiki:

Navigation: 9 Babcock St., Brookline, MA 02445
Ring: 617-738-0200
Surf: shikibrookline.com


5. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka



Photo Credit: https://www.santouka-usa.com/

Santouka has been known for its light and silky tonkotsu soup. Its humble beginning was actually in Hokkaido, a northern island of Japan, where the founder wanted to make delicious ramen for his family. There were only 9 seats at the first Santouka, and shio (salt) ramen was only thing on the menu. Although there are 48 locations throughout Japan and over 20 locations in the world, Santouka has kept up the same quality as if it were still a 9 seat restaurant. Its founder’s philosophy is to serve ramen that he can serve to his family— healthy and delicious, making one bowl at a time with passion.


Photo Credit: https://www.santouka-usa.com/

What to order:

Signature shio tonkotsu ramen is light and perfectly salty. It is topped with Japanese pickled plum to cut some fat from the pork bone broth. Spicy tonkotsu dipping style ramen is great for the cold Boston winter as well as for the rest of the year!

Restaurant Info of Hokkaido Ramen Santouka:

Navigation: 1 Bow St., Cambridge, MA 02138
Ring: 617-945-1460

Navigation: 66 Hereford St., Boston, MA 02115
Ring: 857-310-5194

Surf: www.santouka-usa.com


6. Yume Wo Katare



Photo Credit: http://www.yumewokatare.com/

The menu at “Yume wo Katare” is pretty simple; there’s Ra-men, Buta Ra-men and Kids Ra-men. They are all “Jiro style” ramen, which means a tonkotsu shoyu based broth with tons of veggies and medium curly noodles and garlic… lots and lots of crushed garlic. Regular Ra-men comes with 2 pieces of thick cut chashu, while Buta (meaning ‘pig’) comes with 5 pieces. They are all hearty bowls of ramen with guaranteed deliciousness for pork broth noodle lovers. But what makes Yume Wo Katare special is in its name. Although not mandatory, you’ll have an opportunity to share your dream with your fellow diners and possibly people from over the world (via their social media). Yume Wo Katare literally means “Express your dreams,” and this ramen-ya encourages you to do that, so in addition to simply enjoying their ramen, you’ll have an even more positive experience.

What to order:

Basically, there’s one thing on the menu. All you need to ask yourself is more or less pork or noodle? There’s even a kids’ size available for children under 12. Cash only!

Restaurant Info of Yume Wo Katare:

Navigation: 1923 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
Ring: 617-714-4008
Surf: yumewokatare.com


7. Pabu Boston


Pabu Boston

Photo Credit: http://www.michaelmina.net/restaurants/boston/pabu-boston/

If every chef can do what Michale Mina does, there would be no bad restaurants. Every restaurant he puts his name on is magic. Pabu is no exception. Partnered with Chef Ken Tominaga, the chef and owner of Hana Restaurant in Sonoma County and a leading Japanese food authority of Northern California, Pabu serves everything from omakase sushi to yakitori to wagyu steak. Pabu is a Japanese modern izakaya style restaurant with an upgraded menu. Start with “Happy Spoon,”and you’ll be happy you did, as this perfect bite includes uni, ikura, tobiko, ponzu and creme fraiche. But what does all that have to do with the name “Pabu?” Pabu is a Japanese pronunciation of “public house”.


Photo Credit: http://www.michaelmina.net/restaurants/pabu/

What to order:

There is something for everybody at Pabu. Want great sushi rolls? Ken’s roll with shrimp tempura and spicy tuna or Michael’s roll with bluefin fatty tuna, uni and ikura are both great. Prefer something cooked and easy? Order a tasting of robata, which comes with an assortment of yakitori, meat and vegetable on sticks, grilled over charcoal. Because it’s in Boston, there’s also a hot pot dish with lobster!

Restaurant Infoof Pabu Boston:

Navigation: 3 Franklin St., Boston, MA 02110
Ring: 857-327-7228
Surf: www.michaelmina.net


8. UNI



Photo Credit: http://uni-boston.com/

In a fancy neighborhood of Back Bay on Commonwealth Avenue, UNI attracts food lovers from all over the world. It is an izakaya style restaurant by a James Beard Best Chef awarded chef and restaurateur, Ken Oringer. UNI is by no means an “authentic” Japanese restaurant, but rather, a global celebration of Japan and Japanese inspired cuisine. Call it fusion, if you want to, but the sushi is top-notch and the dishes are sexy. Ignore the haters, because at the end of the night, you’ll be the one who has the happy stomach!


Photo Credit: http://uni-boston.com/

What to order:

Since uni is in the restaurant’s name, as you can imagine, there are plenty of uni, (sea urchin) dishes. Start with the Smoked Uni Spoon or Crispy Riceball with uni creme and have toro nigiri with uni powder dusted on them.

Restaurant Info of UNI:

Navigation: 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215
Ring: 617-536-7200
Surf: uni-boston.com


9. Ittoku


At Ittoku, you can experience a little bit of the downtown Tokyo izakaya experience in Boston. Ittoku is a fun and no frills restaurant with a menu full of small dishes to choose from. So bring friends and plan to share, because that’s what the izakaya experience is about: sharing food with friends and family and having a good time. There are many kinds of sake to choose from that go well with the typical izakaya dishes such as yakitori, sashimi and agedashi tofu. There are also house made chinmi, which literally means “rare taste,” that you won’t see at other Japanese restaurants. Try shiokara, raw squid fermented in their own innards, or takowasa, raw octopus cured in wasabi sauce. They go well with dry sake!

What to order:

The Izakaya meal must start with yakitori, grilled chicken meat on skewers. Some are more exotic than others, like bonjiri and harami, but don’t worry! There’s a graphic explanation on the menu to explain where it comes from. If you like fish, try broiled salmon belly (harasu) or yellowtail collar. They are Japanese favorites. Not feeling too adventurous? Get chicken wings and meatballs. They are Japanese favorites as well!

Restaurant Info of Ittoku:

Navigation: 1414 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02135
Ring: 617-608-3630
Surf: Facebook


10. Sakanaya

Fish Market


Photo Credit: http://www.sakanayaboston.com/

When someone asks to take B-line subway to the Allston section of Boston, a few stops from Fenway Park, just agree and ride along, because that’s where Japanese seafood market, Sakanaya is located. Sakanaya is by no means a fancy restaurant, well, it’s not even a restaurant, but it specializes in selling pre-packed sashimi grade seafood so you can take home some of the freshest fish at a fraction of restaurant price (starts at $1.50 a piece!). Tuna, uni, salmon and if you are lucky, even house cured salmon roe is available. There’s no place to eat, so bring some ice packs, and have a sushi feast at home!


Photo Credito: http://www.sakanayaboston.com/

What to order:

Whatever you see on the daily recommendation board and have it as nigiri, in a bowl or protein style, aka sashimi. Next time when you are planning a sushi party, call them, as they have awesome customizable sushi plates!

Restaurant Info of Sakanaya:

Navigation: 75 Linden St., Boston, MA 02134
Ring: 617-254-0009
Surf: www.sakanayaboston.com

*All prices, numbers and menu descriptions mentioned in the article are from the time of this article’s publishing. So keep in mind, they may have changed since then.

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