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Raw-fish fans are flocking to these sushi restaurants from Los Angeles to Maine. By Bao Ong. The days of the California roll are numbered. Do you really want to eat a run-of-the-mill maki roll stuffed with flimsy strands of tasteless cucumber, dried-out imitation crab, and mushy avocado? Ordering one at any respectable sushi restaurant is like asking for a buttered pasta at a four-star Italian restaurant. Today, the American palate is more sophisticated than ever, and as a result, sushi's popularity continues to soar. Ingredients once considered too hard to find are now commonplace at sushi restaurants from Manhattan to Minneapolis. Just peek at the recent documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which foloows one of the most respected sushi masters, and it's clear why diners love eating everything from raw clams to rice topped with precious caviar. Sushi is not only healthy, it's also the cuisine of choice for Hollywood celebrities. Our selection has never been better. But it wasn't always this way, says Tim Zagat, who with his wife, Nina, founded the Zagat Restaurant Survey back in the 1980's. What was once considered exotic is now everyday fare for even young children. Zagat included the ratings of 34 Japanese restaurants across the country in 1990, but today there are 221 in that category. The idea of eating raw fish? Most people thought that would be a fraternity prank, says Zagat. Now there's a sushi bar on every corner. At Brushstroke in New York City, chef David Bouley collaborated with the Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka, Japan, to create tasting menus that let diners experience a range of flavors. One moment you may take bites from a chirashi bowl, a mound of rice topped with shimmering pieces of sashimi, and the next you'll dip a tender lobster tail into white miso sauce. Our list of the best sushi restaurants include a range of options. In Atlanta, the popular spot Tomo serves simple Japanese snapper with shiso and a squeeze of lemon, or for those who aren't purists, a popular spicy scallop roll is a must order. Another favorite of ours includes Urasawa in Los Angeles, where the dining experience is equal parts theater and art. While the price tag can be steep to experience some of the country's best sushi, as much as $500 for dinner, our list below is aimed at all budgets, with each experience worth the trip.

Arigato Sushi, Santa Barbara, CA
Bamboo Sushi, Portland, OR
Brushstroke, New York City
Hana, Phoenix
Horinoya, New Orleans
Kabuto, Las Vegas
Kiriko, Littlw Osaka in Los Angeles
Koo, San Francisco
Macku, Chicago
Makoto, Washington, D.C.
Masu Sushi and Robata, Minneapolis
Miyake, Portland, ME
Morimoto, Philadelphia
Naoe, Miami
O-Ku, Charleston, SC
O Ya, Boston
Roka Akor, Scottsdale
Sagami, Collingswood, NJ
Soto, New York City
Sushi Kappo Tamura, Seattle
travel+leisure, best sushi restaurants in the us, Sushi Miyagi, Houston
travel+leisure, best sushi restaurants in the us, Sushi Ota, San Diego
Sushi Ran, San Francisco
Sushi Sasa, Denver
Sushi Sasabune, Honolulu
Takashi, Salt Lake City
Tomo, Atlanta
Uchi, Austin, TX
Urasawa, Los Angeles
Yutaka Sushi Bistro, Dallas

Naoe, Miami. Dining under a chef's complete control can seem risky. But in the case of chef Kevin Cory, his omakase-style service at Naoe is worth the gamble. If you can get a seat in this intimate restaurant, you'll quickly discover that every detail is thought out, from the professional service to the family-brewed sake. A bento box is likely to come out first with treats of sardines over rice or cooked baby turnips that lightly salted. More bites of pristine nigiri are presented throughout the meal, where even seemingly simple slices of salmon are brought to life with a touch of the house-brewed soy sauce. At this shrine to sushi, the meal is meant to be a personal experience orchestrated by a chef who will leave you in trusted hands. 661 Brickell Key Drive; (305) 947-6263; (Jeffery Salter)







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