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12 Fresh Sushi Restaurants in the East Bay

Where to score the tastiest nigiri and the most sumptuous chirashi bowls

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The pandemic has hit the local sushi scene hard. In the East Bay, in particular, many of the most highly regarded spots are small, intimate omakase joints that have thus far been unable to reopen (here’s hoping for a swift return, Utzutzu and Sushi Sho).

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t excellent raw fish to be had, as many neighborhood favorites have successfully made the transition to a takeout model, whether they’re the kind of place that slings full-blown omakase nigiri sets or big specialty rolls with wacky names — both options have their time and place. Some of the area’s top Japanese restaurants (previously non-sushi division) are getting in on the action too, serving up some of the nicest-looking and tastiest sushi bentos and chirashi bowls.

Here, then, are 12 great restaurants where you can get your sushi fix, from San Pablo out to Orinda and everywhere in between.

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Koi Sushi

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Probably the most reliable sushi spot this far north and west in Contra Costa County, Koi might not be the first pick for sushi purists, as it’s mostly known for its saucy and humongous specialty rolls. That said, the nigiri here are reasonably solid and the $17 chirashi bowl is a great value. If you have a soft spot for a Lion King roll, the seared version here really hits the spot. Expect long wait times during peak hours, even for takeout.

Luke Tsai

Nori Roll

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If you’re looking for an immaculate omakase experience, that was never what this tiny and perpetually busy strip mall sushi restaurant was about — even prior to the pandemic, it was mostly a takeout spot. Nori Roll’s calling card is very fresh sashimi and nigiri, served up quickly and at an uncommonly reasonable price. The chirashi bowl is one of the better deals around.

Hanazen

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This intimate sushi bar in Orinda specializes in traditional Edomae-style sushi — simple, unadorned nigiri that shows off the chef’s knife skills and the quality and freshness of the fish. Due to disruptions in the supply chain during COVID times, the restaurant doesn’t currently offer as wide a fish selection as it does normally, but what it does sell is all very good: big (and not inexpensive, at upwards of $100 a person) trays of nigiri, a couple of different chirashi bowl options, and a pressed mackerel sushi. To ensure availability, call in your takeout order at least three days ahead of time — and, while you’re at it, inquire about the restaurant’s excellent to-go sake selection.

Yo Sushi

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At the Albany outpost of this local chain, you can order straightforward nigiri or maki rolls if you like, but customers would be better served sticking to Yo Sushi’s bread and butter: its huge selection of big, saucy, over-the-top specialty rolls, which have an artfulness all their own. Fan favorites include the “Solano” (which includes, among other things, fried shrimp, crab meat, tuna, and unagi sauce) and the “North Texas” (which has soft-shell crab as its focal point).

Iyasare

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This elegant Japanese restaurant in Berkeley’s tony Fourth Street shopping district has leaned into sushi during the pandemic — in particular, the sumptuous and prettily plated chirashi don and other assorted sushi bowls that occupy a large section of the takeout menu.

Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya

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Fish & Bird is one of a number of ambitious Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area that never used to be sushi restaurants per se — even if they had a couple of sashimi options on the menu — that have shifted gears during the pandemic. Fish & Bird had been best known for its stylish, creative izakaya dishes, but in recent weeks it has added to its repertoire a sushi bento that includes assorted nigiri and a negitoro (fatty tuna) maki roll. There’s also a sashimi plate and a very generous-looking kaisen don (with uni included) — all courtesy of Shin Okamoto, one of the restaurant’s chefs.

This lively izakaya, known for its creative small plates, was perpetually crowded prior to the pandemic. Since then, it has been one of the East Bay’s top purveyors of bento boxes, with offerings ranging from homey Japanese curry to ultra-luxe pairings of seafood and wagyu beef. It’s also leaned heavily into sushi, offering everything from nigiri combo sets to a wide range of sushi donburi.

B-Dama at Berkeley Bowl West Cafe

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B-Dama chef-owner Chikara Ono has been running the kitchen at the cafe space adjacent from the Berkeley Bowl West supermarket — an arrangement that has afforded him the opportunity to test out a whole host of new restaurant concepts, from tuna belly burgers to Japanese black curry to milk bread fruit sandwiches. Through it all, the cafe has emerged as one of the East Bay’s most affordable and convenient sources of high-quality sushi rolls and generously portioned chirashi bowls.

Chirashi bowl and bentos from B-Dama/Berkeley Bowl West Luke Tsai

This North Oakland newcomer, opened in the middle of the pandemic, has made a name for itself for its very handsome wooden sushi bentos — and, in particular, its $25 seven-piece nigiri box, which is customizable and allows for the selection of high-end options like toro and uni for no additional charge. There’s also a sashimi box and a limited a la carte menu.

This longtime Rockridge mainstay isn’t the kind of sushi restaurant where diners will find the rarest or most unusual fish selections, but for all of the staples — salmon and hamachi nigiri, simple rolls, and the like — Uzen remains one of the best in the business. During the pandemic, the restaurant is also offering full omakase sets and daily a la carte specials for takeout.

When it comes to inexpensive and reasonably high-quality sushi (both rolls and nigiri), Geta has long been the local champ — part of the reason why its tiny dining room was perpetually crowded, with a line out the door, in pre-pandemic times. Call in early to avoid long wait times, or, if you’re in the neighborhood, order in person to check out the signboard of daily specials.

Never purely a traditional omakase spot, Delage has made a name for itself as one of the most reasonably priced special occasion restaurants in the East Bay — $60 or $70 for a multi-course feast by chef Mikiko Ando that included not just nigiri (though the nigiri was splendid), but also elegant salads and cooked dishes mixed in as well. Of its current batch of takeout offerings, the moriawase box ($55) still captures some of that spirit, supplementing a mini chirashi bowl with slices of wagyu steak, a mushroom salad, and more. A more traditional omakase set and a chirashi box are also available.

Slices of seared tuna belly topped with black truffle paste and garlic chips at Delage Luke Tsai

Koi Sushi

Probably the most reliable sushi spot this far north and west in Contra Costa County, Koi might not be the first pick for sushi purists, as it’s mostly known for its saucy and humongous specialty rolls. That said, the nigiri here are reasonably solid and the $17 chirashi bowl is a great value. If you have a soft spot for a Lion King roll, the seared version here really hits the spot. Expect long wait times during peak hours, even for takeout.

Luke Tsai

Nori Roll

If you’re looking for an immaculate omakase experience, that was never what this tiny and perpetually busy strip mall sushi restaurant was about — even prior to the pandemic, it was mostly a takeout spot. Nori Roll’s calling card is very fresh sashimi and nigiri, served up quickly and at an uncommonly reasonable price. The chirashi bowl is one of the better deals around.

Hanazen

This intimate sushi bar in Orinda specializes in traditional Edomae-style sushi — simple, unadorned nigiri that shows off the chef’s knife skills and the quality and freshness of the fish. Due to disruptions in the supply chain during COVID times, the restaurant doesn’t currently offer as wide a fish selection as it does normally, but what it does sell is all very good: big (and not inexpensive, at upwards of $100 a person) trays of nigiri, a couple of different chirashi bowl options, and a pressed mackerel sushi. To ensure availability, call in your takeout order at least three days ahead of time — and, while you’re at it, inquire about the restaurant’s excellent to-go sake selection.

Yo Sushi

At the Albany outpost of this local chain, you can order straightforward nigiri or maki rolls if you like, but customers would be better served sticking to Yo Sushi’s bread and butter: its huge selection of big, saucy, over-the-top specialty rolls, which have an artfulness all their own. Fan favorites include the “Solano” (which includes, among other things, fried shrimp, crab meat, tuna, and unagi sauce) and the “North Texas” (which has soft-shell crab as its focal point).

Iyasare

This elegant Japanese restaurant in Berkeley’s tony Fourth Street shopping district has leaned into sushi during the pandemic — in particular, the sumptuous and prettily plated chirashi don and other assorted sushi bowls that occupy a large section of the takeout menu.

Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya

Fish & Bird is one of a number of ambitious Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area that never used to be sushi restaurants per se — even if they had a couple of sashimi options on the menu — that have shifted gears during the pandemic. Fish & Bird had been best known for its stylish, creative izakaya dishes, but in recent weeks it has added to its repertoire a sushi bento that includes assorted nigiri and a negitoro (fatty tuna) maki roll. There’s also a sashimi plate and a very generous-looking kaisen don (with uni included) — all courtesy of Shin Okamoto, one of the restaurant’s chefs.

Kiraku

This lively izakaya, known for its creative small plates, was perpetually crowded prior to the pandemic. Since then, it has been one of the East Bay’s top purveyors of bento boxes, with offerings ranging from homey Japanese curry to ultra-luxe pairings of seafood and wagyu beef. It’s also leaned heavily into sushi, offering everything from nigiri combo sets to a wide range of sushi donburi.

B-Dama at Berkeley Bowl West Cafe

B-Dama chef-owner Chikara Ono has been running the kitchen at the cafe space adjacent from the Berkeley Bowl West supermarket — an arrangement that has afforded him the opportunity to test out a whole host of new restaurant concepts, from tuna belly burgers to Japanese black curry to milk bread fruit sandwiches. Through it all, the cafe has emerged as one of the East Bay’s most affordable and convenient sources of high-quality sushi rolls and generously portioned chirashi bowls.

Chirashi bowl and bentos from B-Dama/Berkeley Bowl West Luke Tsai

Mujiri

This North Oakland newcomer, opened in the middle of the pandemic, has made a name for itself for its very handsome wooden sushi bentos — and, in particular, its $25 seven-piece nigiri box, which is customizable and allows for the selection of high-end options like toro and uni for no additional charge. There’s also a sashimi box and a limited a la carte menu.

Uzen

This longtime Rockridge mainstay isn’t the kind of sushi restaurant where diners will find the rarest or most unusual fish selections, but for all of the staples — salmon and hamachi nigiri, simple rolls, and the like — Uzen remains one of the best in the business. During the pandemic, the restaurant is also offering full omakase sets and daily a la carte specials for takeout.

Geta

When it comes to inexpensive and reasonably high-quality sushi (both rolls and nigiri), Geta has long been the local champ — part of the reason why its tiny dining room was perpetually crowded, with a line out the door, in pre-pandemic times. Call in early to avoid long wait times, or, if you’re in the neighborhood, order in person to check out the signboard of daily specials.

Delage

Never purely a traditional omakase spot, Delage has made a name for itself as one of the most reasonably priced special occasion restaurants in the East Bay — $60 or $70 for a multi-course feast by chef Mikiko Ando that included not just nigiri (though the nigiri was splendid), but also elegant salads and cooked dishes mixed in as well. Of its current batch of takeout offerings, the moriawase box ($55) still captures some of that spirit, supplementing a mini chirashi bowl with slices of wagyu steak, a mushroom salad, and more. A more traditional omakase set and a chirashi box are also available.

Slices of seared tuna belly topped with black truffle paste and garlic chips at Delage Luke Tsai

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