To most eaters in the Bay Area, sushi is as basic as tacos and pizza. And these days you can find sushi at $200-per-person restaurants as well as in gas station coolers, so it helps to know who's really serving the good stuff.
Given the history of Japanese immigrants coming to the Bay Area since the late 1800s, it should come as no surprise that here we have a massive selection of sushi restaurants, many with their own unique twists on beloved dishes that have evolved over the last century. SFist has already covered the stellar San Francisco sushi scene, so now it's time to survey the best of the best nigiri and sashimi over in the East Bay.
Considered to be the heir of the Yume Sushi crown, which shut its doors in 2017, Utzutzu seats only eight in a simple, somewhat stark and minimalist setting. All seating is at the sushi bar, and given how few seats are available, you will want to reserve your spot well in advance. Every piece of sushi is prepared and plated elegantly by Chef Joji. Once the omakase presentation is complete, you are able to order any items available from the omakase or other fresh fish they have for that day. It's an intimate experience all around: There are only two seatings per evening, and each seating takes roughly two hours.
1428 Park Street, Alameda
This teeny Piedmont Avenue restaurant often has a line as soon as they open with few tables inside and a small counter. Despite the snug surroundings, the staff really moves fast without any sacrifice to quality — and takeout is available too. Melt-in-your-mouth, fresh sashimi is Geta's specialty — I highly recommend the sashimi combo. It’s hard not to try a little bit of everything here, and you can do it without breaking the bank; special rolls are priced under $10, entrees under $15, and a special “GetaMen” ramen menu that’s first-come, first-serve on Sundays only.
165 41st Street, Oakland
This place is also very small and has no sushi bar so there can be a bit of a wait sometimes, but despite the small surroundings, Yojimbo makes up for it with reasonable prices and generous portions. This hole in the wall (said with affection) may not look like much from the outside, but the sleek anime art on the walls makes this place stand out in terms of atmosphere. A no frills menu with your traditional sushi menu options, alongside a customizable ramen menu. Personal favorites included the Sobber roll, the Peter Roll and the Mexican Roll. Fresh, yummy, great bang for your buck.
1221 Park Street, Alameda
There is often a long wait at Kirala’s main dining room on Shattuck given this place's long reputation for good sushi (it opened here in 1989), so be prepared. It’s not always a bad thing though — having a strong appetite when you get here will serve you well. Start with an assortment of skewers from the robata grill. After that, head for the usual suspects of sashimi, nigiri, and maki rolls, and add udon, grilled meats, and teriyaki as you wish. If the long wait gives you pause, head on over to their takeout-only branch at Epicurious Garden for a slightly adjusted but still robust menu.
2100 Ward Street at Shattuck
This cozy little North Berkeley café not only has all of your favorite classic sushi rolls, nigiri and sashimi covered, they also have an impressive selection of vegetarian/vegan sushi options which certainly helps Kiku Sushi stand out from the herd. Excellent lunch specials, affordable and generous portions also make this place noteworthy and worth your time. Personal favorites included the chirashi special, kaisen futo-maki, and the vegan baked “scallop” roll.
1316 Gilman Street, Berkeley
Smack dab in the heart of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, Kamado Sushi really brings the flavor, freshness and variety without the pretension. Another small and popular establishment (sensing a trend?), especially on the weekends, so reservations are highly recommended. Omakase at the sushi bar is the baller option, or feel free to order a la carte. The sashimi here is out of this world. Just heavenly. Other highlights included the miso glazed black cod, grilled squid, and the miso eggplant.
1400 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
To say that this is a unique dining experience is a major under-statement. Eating at Sushi Sho is a truly intimate, personal and educational meal, if you’re up for it. Brought to you by sushi master Aki Kawata, this spot is in keeping with the traditional Edo- and Kansai-style sushi. There are two key things to note: a reservation is required — the seating is all at the sushi bar and there are only two seatings per night — and there is a $60 minimum charge per diner which will be no problem if you choose one of the omakase options. Chef Aki not only prepares your sushi for you, but will patiently explain everything about the fish, the preparation and the proper manner in which to consume your sushi. As each patron gets this same level of interaction with Chef Aki, be prepared to stay for about 2 hours. You won’t be sorry as you linger and savor each delectable bite.
10749 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito
As any Bay Area resident is highly aware, late-night food options here are few and far between. Kansai, located in North Oakland on Telegraph Avenue, is a reasonably priced casual sushi choice that serves until (gasp) 1:30 a.m. Their menu is vast, so whether you’re in the mood for something spicy, fried, baked or grilled, you will find what you’ve been craving after a few drinks up the street at The Avenue. They also have a solid happy hour with some fantastic sushi and drink specials, so you will not be breaking the bank. Is this the fanciest sushi restaurant on this list? No. But does it deliver in terms of tastiness, variety and overall quality? Yes! Personal Favorite: The Tiger Woods roll.
4345 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland
So you know you love sushi, you have a sophisticated palate, and you’re looking to elevate the whole experience a bit. Why not sit back, relax, and let a sushi chef make the selections for you? They are the experts after all. Enter Delage – an ever-changing omakase (aka prix fixe) menu inspired by seasonal ingredients and flavors, in a warm and rustic atmosphere. This place is perfect for celebrating a special occasion, impressing your date or just treating yourself to an eclectic and immensely satisfying 8 course tasting menu (add-on options available too). And at $70 per person, it’s a fine dining experience without that heavy-duty fine dining price tag. It’s another cozy place with limited seating and limited walk-in options, so to be sure to make a reservation ahead of time!
536 9th Street, Oakland
This little Rockridge gem has a reputation for highly authentic and fresh sushi while still being moderately priced. Whether you choose to do the omakase option or just order a sampling of nigiri and rolls, coupled with the minimalist chic décor, Uzen is definitely a favorite with locals. This is another tiny one with limited seating and bar seating, so it is worth making a reservation. I personally find it impossible not to go nuts with the nigiri orders, specifically their unagi, amaebi, and the halibut with quail eggs — yowza! So decadent, but you’re worth it.
5415 College Avenue, Oakland
Celebrating 10 years in the heart of downtown Walnut Creek, Sasa is an elegant affair, serving up inventive Japanese small plates alongside unique and fresh cocktails. Sasa boasts of fresh daily fish delivery straight from Tokyo’s own Tsukiji fish market and Oahu’s Fish Auction, so you know they are not playing around with quality. The dining room is bustling and high energy, and can get a little busy on the weekends so consider making a reservation. From the raw bar, I’d recommend ordering the tuna parfait, scallop ceviche, and the beautifully presented Hokkaido roll. And if that’s not speaking to you, their menu features an eclectic mix of fresh veggie, meat and cooked seafood dishes as well. Pair it with a colorful signature cocktail or sake flight, and you will be feeling no pain by the end of the night!
1432 North Main Street, Walnut Creek
In case you work up an appetite after shopping at the Trader Joe’s next door, Ozora boasts over 60 different sushi rolls on its menu. The portions are generous, so given the vast menu, it’s a great place to order a few items to share. Or don’t! Highly recommend the Chuck Norris roll, the savory sesame spinach salad, and the Asparagus Beef appetizer. The place also offers a solid happy hour, plenty of large TVs, a live DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, and if you check in on Yelp they even offer a free piece of mochi ice cream.
785 Oak Grove Road, Concord