Cafe Reviews

ShinBay in Scottsdale Is the Gold Standard of Phoenix Japanese Restaurants

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Hana Japanese Eatery: Since 2007, Hana Japanese Eatery has been bringing fresh sushi and Japanese food to the Central Phoenix neighborhood. Brother and sister team Lori and "Chef Koji" Hashimoto are dedicated to sourcing the freshest fish possible and oftentimes you can catch Chef Koji carving up a whole fish right before your eyes. If you're a fan of sushi rolls, Hana has a selection of familiar and signature offerings including the Hana Roll with shrimp, crab and pickled root with tempura flakes. Make sure to check the special boards for the extra menu items such as ankimo (monkfish liver) and aji (Spanish mackerel). (5524 N. 7th Ave., 602-973-1238,

Roka Akor: The focal point of this restaurant is definitely its robata, or giant charcoal grill, but that doesn't mean doesn't also offer great sushi. There's a small but satisfying section of the menu dedicated to nigiri, sashimi, and maki rolls, as well as few quite memorable cold plates. One of our favorite dishes is the butterfish tataki with white asparagus and yuzu, which features thinly sliced fish and a drizzle of yuzu sauce. For a more impressive dinner go for the Deluxe Sashimi Platter, which features thick pieces of fish artfully arranged atop a mountain of ice. (7299 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-306-8800,

Yasu Sushi Bistro: From the outside you'd never know this strip mall restaurant is actually a cozy, upscale neighborhood stop that happens to serve some of the best sushi in town. At Yasu Sushi Bistro chef and owner Yasu Hashino offers up all sorts of sushi, from nigiri and sashimi to a list of specialty rolls. Regulars can attest that the best options are probably those found on the separate menu of daily specials. That's where Hashino showcases an interesting array of fresh options like blue crab handrolls and sanma (mackerel pike). (4316 E. Cactus Road, 602-787-9181)

PURE Sushi: This stylish spot in North Scottsdale may not be the most authentic sushi experience in town, but PURE Sushi will do a good job of satisfying your sushi fix. The sushi menu includes a lengthy list of nigiri sushi such as toro (tuna belly), uni (sea urchin), and uzura (quail egg). Less adventurous diners can opt for familiar sushi rolls, including California roll (with or without smelt egg), yellowtail with scallions, and spicy salmon. The specialty rolls are interesting creations like the Fire Dragon Roll, which features shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, cucumber, fresh tuna, cilantro, and jalapeño. (20567 N. Hayden Road, #100, Scottsdale, 480-355-0999,

Pallets Food and Bar: There are places with better sushi offerings than Pallets Food and Bar but the affordability and atmosphere at this downtown spot make it a neighborhood favorite. The restaurant and bar also serves Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine, but the sushi menu is the largest of all. There are all the favorites like spicy tuna and salmon rolls, as well as handrolls, sashimi, and nigri sushi. The best part is that the restaurant offers 15 different types of craft beer, so you can wash your meal down with a cold brew of your choice. (1011 N. 3rd St., 602-254-1168,

Hiro Sushi: For a sushi dinner that's less about style and more about great food, Hiro Sushi really can't be beat. The mom and pop restaurant comes courtesy of chef-owner Hiro Nakano, who honed his skills in Japan for more than 25 years before opening his restaurant in North Scottsdale. It's a cozy place with a long sushi bar where chefs dish up excellent sushi in all forms. Be sure to read the special boards that hang behind the bar, as that's where you'll find features like hamachi kama (yellowtail collar) or conch dressed in a sweet miso sauce. (address, phone number, website)

Fresh Wasabi: If you find yourself on the west side of town, be sure to keep Fresh Wasabi in mind. The Glendale restaurant serves fresh fish and an incredibly long list of specialty rolls. The unique creations sometimes bear sexy names including the Booty Booty Roll with shrimp tempura, cream cheese, avocado, and ell. The sushi combos are a simpler option — for example the Chirashi Sushi combo, which includes a variety of sashimi over a bowl of rice, as well as miso soup and salad. (6645 W. Bell Road, Glendale, 623-878-3374)

Sushi Roku: There are lots of places for dinner in Scottsdale, but even in the area's crowded dining scene Sushi Roku stands out. The restaurant's atmosphere transports you to a different place — namely, to Las Vegas — with its over the top décor and uber good-looking staff. Oh, and the sushi isn't bad either. During happy hour the restaurant becomes remarkably more affordable, with $3 hand rolls and $5 cut rolls. We particularly enjoy the spicy scallop handroll. (7277 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, 480-970-2121, — Lauren Saria

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria