September 28, 2022

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The best sushi restaurants on Long Island

Neighborhood sushi spots abound, offering reliable, close-to-home rolls and bento boxes as often as the mood strikes. Venture further afield and you’ll get a fuller omakase experience with rarer-to-be-found imported fish and perhaps, a small plates of izakaya Japanese bar food. Here are Newsday food critics’ top recommendations for sushi:

Tiga (43A Main St., Port Washington): Port Washington’s tradition of fine sushi establishments includes this relatively new cult favorite helmed by chefs Roy Kurniawan and Dhani Diastika, formerly of Sea Cliff’s late, lamented Musu, who ply their trade in a bustling if smallish storefront. The East-meets-West menu features Scottish salmon with a soy vinaigrette, fluke carpaccio with chili paste and tuna pizza–served on a crispy flour tortilla with guacamole and nori. But it’s the signature rolls–exciting, inventive, and frequently caramelized with a torch–that are the stars of the show. The sushi is as serious as the names are fanciful: at Tiga, Billy Joel is a fine tuna-salmon-avocado combo, the Ripple is a feast of yellowtail, tuna, mango and sriracha, and the Big Mac is patty-less, a melange of crab salad, spicy tuna, tobiko and bonito flakes that Ronald himself might give up burgers for. More info: 516-918-9993, tigany.com

The Foxy Lady at Tiga in Port Washington.

The Foxy Lady at Tiga in Port Washington.
Credit: An Rong Xu

Umami (329 Main St., Huntington): It looks like a hundred other neighborhood sushi bars but this friendly, three-year-old restaurant has some tricks up its sleeve. Order the “sushi and sashimi combo,” like you’ve done a million times before, and you are confronted by a towering foodscape complete with a scallop shell amphitheater and a volcano spewing dry ice vapor. More memorable, though, is the quality and variety of fish, and the best way to experience it is by ordering the omakase (translation: I’ll leave it up to you”) for which chef Sean Chen will create a menu based on which fish are freshest and most enticing that day. A recent omakase included sea urchin from Hokkaido, toro kama (meat from the tuna’s jaw) with raw quail egg, hamachi belly with a rice-wine salsa, king crab (not crab stick), kampachi, otoro (tuna belly) and sweet shrimp —the head deep fried, the tail served raw. More info: 631-421-4726, umamihuntington.com

The chef's choice Omakase at Umami in Huntington.

The chef’s choice Omakase at Umami in Huntington.
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Stirling Sake (477 Main St., Greenport): Yuki Mori, formerly the manager of the East Village sake bar Decibel, took his act east in 2015, opening Stirling Sake a few blocks from the main action in Greenport. No surprise that the sake menu runs deep at this serene spot, and expert advice is available from the servers. Mori also oversees a kitchen that puts out an eclectic lineup of Japanese small plates — perfect to accompany sake — and as well as some of Long Island’s most savory noodle bowls. Soba come in an almost lavish broth with a chili smolder; for tonkotsu ramen, Mori braises pork collar from Cutchogue’s 8 Hands Farm and arranges it in a milky, opaque, kotteri-style broth. A lighter brew is built with yuzu broth and smoked local duck breast. As befits a sushi place in a harbor town, Stirling’s fish lineup can be ridiculously fresh — sushi master Akio Kon moonlights as a fisherman and, in season, catches much of what he serves. More info: 631-477-6782, stirlingsake.com

Tonkotsu pork ramen at Stirling Sake in Greenport.

Tonkotsu pork ramen at Stirling Sake in Greenport.
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Takumi (149-03 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Commack). Japanese-owned sushi restaurants are rare on Long Island, but husband-and-wife team Yukio and Kiyomi Okamura run one of the few, and do it with warmth and passion for their craft. Chef Yukio Okamura, who began work as a chef at age 15 in Japan — some of that time in Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market — slices fish into creamy jewels, whether kanburi (a type of yellowtail), saba (mackerel) or blue-fin tuna. While the sushi, sashimi, and chirashi are something to behold, the roster of hot dishes run deep — order one, and the chef might dash into the back to cook it himself. Chewy takoyaki (octopus balls) showered with bonito flakes, kara-age (fried chicken), or the skewers of grilled eel called unagi kogushi yaki are perfectly salty pairings for one of the many bottles of sake on hand here. Kiyomi Okamura will ask you your preference (dry, sweet, milky?) and connect you with a bottle. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, especially in winter, indulge Takumi’s call-ahead ramen bowls. Note: During COVID-19, Takumi is serving via pickup and delivery only. More info: 631-543-0101, takuminy.com

Yuki's pizza is made with thin shrimp crackers topped with...

Yuki’s pizza is made with thin shrimp crackers topped with tuna sashimi, crunchy spicy tuna and wasabi caviar at Takumi in Commack.
Credit: Daniel Brennan

Taka Sushi (821 Carman Ave., Westbury): Taka Yamaguchi offers a lesson in sushi at the bar, where the most coveted seats in his namesake restaurant are located. There’s no fussiness, no over-orchestration, no out-of-sync flavors in this modest, strip-mall setting. You immediately know why you’re here. The chef’s choice of sushi is seasonal and whimsical, and his selections might include Spanish mackerel capped with scallion and ginger, marinated mackerel, yellowtail sushi with shiso leaf, fatty tuna, the sweet shrimp called ebi, or rich, pungent uni. More info: 516-876-0033

Oysters on the half shell at Taka Sushi in Westbury.

Oysters on the half shell at Taka Sushi in Westbury.
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Bamboo (76C Jobs Ln., Southampton): In 2001, restaurateur Michael Gluckman opened a restaurant called Bamboo, which quickly gained a reputation for being a celebrity magnet, yes, but one that served the Hamptons’ freshest, highest-quality sushi. A decade after the original closed, Gluckman’s Bamboo is back and happily its fish is as impeccably sourced as ever (from Gosman’s in Montauk). Most nigiri and sashimi selections are solid choices, as are any of a number of sushi rolls (headliners include blue crab, barbecued eel, and wasabi-tinged lobster). All pair perfectly with Bamboo’s cocktails, the best of which feature fresh-squeezed juices, from the watermelon martini to the blood orange margarita and beyond. More info: 631-488-4240, bamboosouthampton.com 

Spicy tuna on crispy rice cakes at Bamboo in Southampton.

Spicy tuna on crispy rice cakes at Bamboo in Southampton.
Credit: Newsday/Scott Vogel

Kissaki (670 Montauk Hwy., Suite E, Water Mill): Nothing is usual about this new sushi-bar arrival to Water Mill, from a chirashi-don bowl topped with mounds of sea urchin, to miso butter on roasted figs, to a robot who shapes nutty koshihikari rice for nigiri sushi and maki rolls. Head chef Mark Garcia cut his chops with one of America’s sushi masters, Kaze Chan, and he is ultra-deft at combining fish from Japan with blistering knife skills for the signature omakase, wherein evocative toppings such as toasted almonds or frizzled shiitake mushrooms set the sushi apart. Kissaki, which has a flagship in Manhattan, was in planning before COVID-19 hit — but the pandemic forced the dining area to swell beyond the minimalist, 20-seat interior and into the sprawling courtyard outside. With tropical plants, strings of lights and watchful service, it’s an enchanted space. More info: 631-709-8855, explorekissaki.com

Chutoro with caviar at Kissaki in Watermill.

Chutoro with caviar at Kissaki in Watermill.
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Yamaguchi (63 Main St., Port Washington): When Yasuko and Akira Yamaguchi opened their restaurant in 1988, it was one of a very few sushi bars on Long Island; now Yamaguchi is one of six within a three-block radius in downtown Port Washington. But not only does it stick to its traditional guns in the face of fusion and ever-more-elaborate maki rolls, it continues to excel. The original location was lost in a fire in 2013; two years later it reopened in slightly nicer digs but, as always, the emphasis is on the fish: hopping fresh and prepared to amplify, rather than distract from that freshness. Make sure you inquire what the chefs recommend on any given day; fluke usuzukuri, squid with cod roe, and salmon roe with grated yam are perpetual standouts, as are “kitchen entrees” such as beef negiya-maki and pork tonkatsu. More info: 516-883-3500, restaurantyamaguchi.com

Octopus in vinegar sauce at Yamaguchi in Port Washington.

Octopus in vinegar sauce at Yamaguchi in Port Washington.
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Sushivogue (8063 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury) For several years, Valley Stream native Tommy Yeh operated what he termed an American-style sushi joint, perfecting a concept that he transported to the former Nikkei of Peru in Woodbury last year. Exhaustive is too weak a word to describe Yeh’s dependably delicious menu, which lists dozens of rolls featuring more than a hundred different ingredients combined in what feels like thousands of ways. There are rolls with localized names like Jericho (spicy yellowtail, white tuna and jalapeño), cute names Charlie Brown (coconut shrimp, cucumber wrapped with purple rice, mango, seared scallops, peanuts) and Aquaman (spicy tuna, guacamole, jalapeño, spicy salmon and Doritos crumbs). Don’t miss the Triple Crown (tuna, salmon, yellowtail with bluefin toro and wasabi salsa) or the Woodbury (king crab, cucumber, seaweed salad, lobster salad and more). Note to adventurous types: try the sushi burrito stuffed with spicy crab and salmon. More info: 516-588-9900, sushivogue.com

A Pearl Harbor roll at Sushivogue in Woodbury.

A Pearl Harbor roll at Sushivogue in Woodbury.
Credit: Spencer Vogel

Torigo Japanese Restaurant (196 Jericho Tpke. Floral Park): Torigo doubles as a first-rate sushi bar and romantic bistro, one where chef-owner Tony San is hyper-focused on sourcing the freshest fish he can find. Occasionally, San will post glamour shots of the daily catch to social media, but by the time you arrive for dinner, it will have been dismantled into small jewels for the night’s theater of maki rolls, sashimi and nigiri sushi, the latter served on perfectly seasoned rice. Ease your way there with Torigo’s excellent hot or barely-seared snacks, such as shake kama, fatty salmon collar grilled and showered with sea salt. Then swim further out to sea, at least figuratively, via three or four kinds of uni, multiple types of mackerel and all the other usual suspects, from sea bream to yellowtail, listed on a chalkboard menu. Vegans are embraced via rolls filled with avocado, pumpkin or the cooked Japanese gourd called kanpyo. Everyone can indulge the excellent sake list. More info: 516-352-1116, torigorestaurant.com

Kaisen don, a daily selection of fish served on a...

Kaisen don, a daily selection of fish served on a bed of rice, and sushi rolls, are packed for takeout at Torigo in Floral Park.
Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus