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Where to eat the best sushi in the South

Southern sushi lovers don’t have to go far for premium fish. In fact, some of the best is south of the Mason Dixon. From extravagant sushi tasting experiences to cheap, but downright delicious rolls, we’ve found some of the best sushi joints across the South.

Makoto in Miami, Florida
Chef Makoto Okuwa has over twenty years of experience cooking Japanese cuisine. He has worked with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in Washington D.C. and New York City, appeared as a competitor on Iron Chef America, and opened Sashi Sushi + Sake Lounge in Manhattan Beach, California before moving to Florida. At his restaurant in Miami, Okuwa creates playful sushi creations, such as lobster maki with ginger-pickled jicama and the "Vegan Stephen" roll, that offer modern takes on traditional Japanese dishes. 

Toni’s Sushi Bar in Miami, Florida

Toni’s Sushi Bar has been serving up top-notch sushi for the past 30 years. It was the sushi place before sushi became so trendy. Better yet, the prices are affordable — the most expensive item on the menu is the whole-tail lobster tempura for $24. Thrillist recently named Toni’s as one of the best sushi restaurants in the country.

NAOE in Miami, Florida
On the other hand, sushi lovers seeking a high-end experience in Miami should head to NAOE. The Brickell Key restaurant only seats eight diners at a time and the tasting menu begins at $200, but the price is worth the experience. Chef Kevin Corey trained under sushi master Nobuo Kase and even traveled to Japan for more training. Over the years, NAOE has earned praised both domestically and internationally as one of the best Japanese and sushi restaurants in not only Miami, but also the world. If you can get a seat, expect everything from what PureWow calls "the most decadent bento box you've ever seen" to a "never-ending concession of traditional nigiri."

Nobu in Miami, Florida 

The sophisticated sushi restaurant highlights Japanese fusion, such as yellowtail jalapeno and "new-style" sashimi, made by chef Nobu Matsuhisa. A favorite among celebrities, Nobu is slated to open a new Atlanta location in late 2019. “We don’t want to be in every single city in the U.S. We want to be in very selective cities,” Nobu CEO Trevor Horwell said in an interview with Atlanta Magazine. “It has to be a city that fits with the Nobu customer.” With Atlanta’s booming film and television industry, they feel the city is a good fit for its customers. 

Tomo in Atlanta, Georgia
Tomo Naito came to Atlanta from another Nobu location, in Las Vegas, and has quickly become one of the city’s best sushi chefs. Tomo, his Buckhead restaurant, serves up classic nigiri and sashimi, plus more decadent rolls like the Tomo Urchin — medium-rare sea urchin tempura that's wrapped in shiso and seaweed and topped with sea salt, yuzu and Tomo salsa. All of the ingredients are hand-picked by Naito himself.

Monkey 68 in Atlanta, Georgia
The owners of One Sushi + and Katana Teppanyaki & Sushi opened Monkey 68 in downtown Roswell last summer. Besides an extensive sushi menu, Monkey 68 offers diners creative Asian fusion dishes like Korean Gumbo, bang bang steak and stir-fried edamame. 

Nori Nori in Atlanta, Georgia
Make sure your stomach is empty when you head to Nori Nori in Atlanta. Unlike other sushi restaurants that offer rolls or pieces of sushi, this fish is served up buffet-style. The endless display of sushi is almost too pretty to eat, but we won’t tell if you load up your plate with dozens of pieces of nigiri. 

Uchi and Uchiko in Austin, Texas
Run by James Beard Award-winner Tyson Cole, Uchi and its sister restaurant, Uchiko, offer some of the best sushi in Austin. The restaurant has strict sustainable sourcing policies, which means only the freshest and best fish are used in its dishes. Cole’s sushi creations are innovative, but he doesn’t forget about the classics either. Named by Thrillist as one of the best sushi restaurants in the country, Uchi shines with its creative twists on the classics, such as the Machi Cure, "a concoction of smoked yellowtail, crisp yuca, almonds and pears.”

Fukumoto in Austin, Texas
Born in Japan, chef Kazu Fukumoto worked his way from dishwasher to sushi chef. He served as head sushi chef at Musashino Sushi Dokoro in Austin before heading back to Tokyo, where he learned how to create traditional yakitori. In 2015, he opened Fukumoto: Sushi & Yakitori Izakaya, where he creates sushi and Japanese cuisine in a gastropub setting. 

O-Ku in Charleston, South Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia

O-Ku’s signature dishes are innovative takes on classic Japanese fare. Along with starters and signature entrees, O-Ku’s sushi is created using ingredients from the best fish markets in Hawaii and Tokyo. The menus vary between locations, but diners will be satisfied with everything on each menu. 

PM in Nashville, Tennessee
If you’re looking for an affordable late-night sushi fix, head to PM in Nashville — the sushi bar is open every day until midnight. Some of the specialty rolls on the menu include the Godzilla (salmon, shrimp tempura, crab stick and cucumber), the Belmont (a tempura fried roll filled with tuna, salmon and crab stick), and the AM Fire Roll (a spicy crab and hamachi roll with tuna on the outside).

Sushi Taro in Washington D.C.
Frequented by Japanese embassy workers and diplomats, Sushi Taro is one of the best sushi spots in Washington D.C. According to Thrillist, the chef-guided omakase tasting menu is one of the best ways to experience the restaurant. However, if you’re looking to save some money, you can grab the Japanese beer and sushi during happy hour as well. 

Photo credit first photo: Toni's Sushi Bar Facebook

Photo credit second photo: Nobu Restaurants Facebook

Photo credit third photo: O-Ku Facebook

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Rachel Taylor is a staff writer at Southern Kitchen. She moved to Atlanta earlier this year after graduating college in Maryland, and has been a digital audience specialist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Politically Georgia, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She has lived in France and Italy, and loves to travel.

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