sushi maki and niguiri with soy sauce and wasabi with california roll

If you don’t know sukiyaki from teppanyaki or sushi from sashimi, fear not. We’re here to school you on the “raw” truth of Japanese cuisine.

Join us on a tour of some of the Valley’s most celebrated sushi destinations. We’ll also throw in a few lesser-known pearls. Most of these offer full menus of cooked and raw foods so anyone can find what they like.

Ah-So

Ah-So’s sushi is “ah, so good!” with tempura, special, baked and fresh rolls on the menu. For those who want a little flair with their meals, teppanyaki is available, too.

Location: 1919 S. Gilbert Road, Mesa
Website: ahsomesa.com

Hiro Sushi

Serving traditional sushi for lunch and dinner, this cozy spot is tucked away just east of the Loop 101 on Via Linda in Scottsdale. Rave reviews and a stunning presentation highlight Hiro Sushi. Sake and wine are served, along with beer.

Location: 9393 N. 90th Street, Scottsdale
Website: hirosushiaz.com

Kabuki Japanese Restaurant

Kabuki showcases traditional and innovative Japanese cuisine, creative cocktails and contemporary interior designs. When the Kabuki menu is in your hand, prepare for tough decisions. Items include an array of small plates, vegetable and seafood salads, sushi, sashimi, rolls, specialty rolls, teriyaki, sukiyaki, tempura, combinations, wagyu beef, noodles and rice dishes. Kabuki’s happy hour menu (available 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday) features a lineup of small plates, salads, sushi and rolls, plus cocktails, sake, wine and beer.

Location:
Glendale: 6770 N. Sunrise Boulevard
Tempe: 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe Marketplace
Website: kabukirestaurants.com

Kona Grill

Kona Grill is an Arizona staple, serving guests freshly prepared food and personalized service, all within a contemporary setting. Besides the standard pizzas, sandwiches and salads, Kona Grill offers a wide selection of award-winning sushi, including sashimi, traditional favorites and several proprietary dishes. Happy hour is 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and all day on Sunday. Reverse happy hour is 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Location:
Phoenix: 5310 E. High Street, Suite 101
Chandler: 3111 W. Chandler Boulevard
Gilbert: 2224 E. Williams Field Road
Scottsdale: 7014 E. Camelback Road
Website: konagrill.com

Ling and Louie’s

Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill is where authentic Chinese food and distinct specialties from Asia come together in a vibrant contemporary restaurant. Combining authentic Asian food with American hospitality, stylish interiors with affordable prices, familiar with new dishes, spicy with mild offerings, the restaurant is a marriage of the best of Eastern and Western traditions. Check the website for happy hour locations and specials at the two locations.

Location:
Chandler: Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino, 5040 Wild Horse Pass Boulevard
Scottsdale: 9397 E. Shea Boulevard, Suite 125
Website: lingandlouies.com

Nori

Local sushi genius Hyunwook Lee founded Nori Sushi, which offers premium dishes from land and sea. Along with a cutting-edge organic cocktail program, Nori has succeeded by offering something for everyone. Lee supports a fusion of classic sushi cuisine with jaw-dropping modern twists. Happy hour is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Location:
Scottsdale: 10115 E. Bell Road, Suite 48
Phoenix: 21001 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 48
Website: noriaz.com

Otaku

Otaku offers artfully prepared, traditional Asian cuisine. Fresh maki (rolls) sushi, sashimi, noodle dishes and Omakase are just the beginning of this incredible dining experience. The eatery serves a wide variety of sake and specialty drinks. Happy hour is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Closed on Mondays.

Location: 2430 S. Gilbert Road, Suite 5, Chandler
Website: otakusushi.com

Ohya Sushi and Korean Kitchen

Founded eight years ago as Chuhgajib Korean Barbecue, Ohya Sushi and Korean Kitchens up the ante on fun. They have two karaoke rooms for private parties, a small room for up to eight people, and a larger facility for 20. The locations also boast sushi bars, yakitori and teppan grill bars, as well as libations. Happy hour is all day.

Location:
Glendale: 4920 W. Thunderbird Road, Suite 117
Phoenix: 7000 E. Mayo Boulevard, Suite 1090
Website: goohya.com

RA Sushi

Locals know RA means party! There’s a reason they have six Arizona locations: The food is excellent and the drink variety is crazy good. Sushi includes maki, sashimi, nigiri, hand rolls, specialty rolls and samplers. Non-sushi mongers will enjoy katsu, teriyaki, chicken yakisoba, black pepper steak and other dishes, along with a variety of desserts. Happy hour is 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and again 10 p.m. to close. Sundays you can get happy 3 p.m. to close.

Location: Valleywide
Website: rasushi.com

Sakana Sushi

Sakana has been serving outstanding sushi and Japanese cuisine in the Valley since 1994. It has a simple lunch or dinner menu that features fresh fish flown in regularly from around the world. Sushi varieties come in nigiri and maki styles and a complete menu of cooked items (entrees, noodles, teriyaki, tempura, salads, soups) is available, too, many with gluten-free options. Hours vary slightly between locations so visit the website to find your favorite Sakana.

Location: Four Valley locations
Website: sakanasushiandgrill.com

Sapporo

Sapporo of Scottsdale has long been a popular destination, not just for excellent food, but for a great bar experience. Sapporo is in a word, popular, thanks to its full slate of teppanyaki meals, extensive sushi offerings and expert bartenders mixing up exotic libations. Pricing is downright reasonable, and its happy hour is from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, with reverse happy hour at 10 p.m. to close in the bar. A variety of libations are priced to keep you engaged and having a great time. Between the sushi, teppan and wide selection of dinner items, there is something for everyone at Sapporo.

Location: 14344 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Website: sapporoscottsdale.com

Shimogamo

Shimogamo specializes in small plates, but it scores big points with hearty entrees like its ribeye, salmon, black snapper and Teriyaki spare ribs. Happy hour is easy to remember: every day from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A large Sapporo Beer is only $4 and sake bombs for only $6.50. Many popular sushi and rolls are discounted, too.

Location: 2051 W. Warner Road, Chandler
Website: shimogamoaz.com

Squid Ink

Late-night sushi-cravers rejoice. Here’s a place to get sushi as late as 2 a.m. (Phoenix) and midnight (Peoria). Squid Ink is a fusion concept with items ranging from pot stickers, ramen and chicken wings to duck confit and coconut curry shrimp. The sushi menu serves up just about every crowd-pleasing sushi, rolls, and sashimi one could want, including many house specialty rolls. Happy hour daily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Locations:
Phoenix: 9947 W. Happy Valley Road
Phoenix: CityScape, 2 E. Jefferson Street
Website: squidinksushi.com

SumoMaya

At SumoMaya Mexican-Asian Kitchen, tasty tapas-style small plates meet the big, bold flavors of Latin America and the Far East. SumoMaya’s menu features only the finest, freshest ingredients and boldest flavors from across Latin America and the Far East. The modern restaurant serves up a wide variety of drinks, so diners can get not only their beer and sake, but tequila and margaritas. The social hour is 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday, and a late-night happy hour in the bar only from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Location: 6560 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Website: sumomaya.com

Sushi 101

Sushi 101 has been schooling Valley residents for more than 15 years. Founded by siblings with true talent for entrepreneurship and a passion for sushi, Sushi 101 has taken great strides to ensure only the best quality ingredients are used by expertly trained chefs. Happy hour is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with reverse happy hour from 9 p.m. to close, so you can sip on different beers.

Location: 920 E. University Drive, Suite D-101, Tempe
Website: sushi101tempe.com

Sushi Ko

Serving up tasty sushi since 1995, Sushi Ko has a full menu of appetizers, as well as soups and salads. Tempura, teriyaki, noodle and Katsu dishes as well as a list of house specialty seafood dishes are recommended. Got kiddos? Bring them here for a child’s menu and a wide variety of simple desserts. eer and sake are served, along with other adult beverages. Prices are reasonable at Sushi Ko, which is tucked away next to Chompie’s.

Location: 9301 E. Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale
Website: sushikoscottsdale.com

Sushi Station

The Kaiten Sushi, also known as “conveyor belt sushi,” concept comes to the Valley from Japan, making dining an adventure. The menu isn’t limited to raw fish, though. Various fully cooked rolls, dumplings, hand-battered tempura and other dishes are served. Happy hour is 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, during which time sushi starts at $1.50 and drinks are discounted.

Location: 20910 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 150, Phoenix
Website: sushistation88.com

Sushiholic

The sheer size of Sushiholic’s roll selection is overwhelming—as is the purveyor’s sense of humor. With names (and pictures!) like Shrimp Killer, Booty Booty, Kiss My Tuna, Godzilla Roll, Tootsie Roll, Second Climax and Viva Las Vegas Roll, you can’t help but be curious about all of them. Specialty cocktails like the Naughty Ninja and Sinful Geisha continue the fun. Salads, tempura, teriyaki, appetizers and even a kid’s menu cover all family members.

Location: 3957 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
Website: sushiholicaz.com

Yoshi Bento

The chefs at Yoshi Bento not only fill bento boxes with teriyakis, tempuras and salads. They roll sushi creations and simmer pots of Japanese noodle soups. Specialty rolls include the Las Vegas roll laden with fried salmon, crabmeat and eel, and the Scottsdale roll dusted with crunchy powder and a crown of spicy mayo. Wash it down with beer, wine, sake and green tea.

Location: 7000 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix
Phone: 480-747-8057

– Jordan Blitz, The Entertainer! Magazine / Edited for Phoenix.org