It’s time for my annual list of the most anticipated sushiya openings for the upcoming year.
It’s one of my favourite pieces of content. It’s also getting harder.
Well, I usually piece this thing together by consolidating industry whispers with whatever sushiya openings from the previous year were delayed (spoiler: it’s always a lot) and mix in all the “most anticipated restaurant openings in _______” that exist on the internet.
Unfortunately, the latter has become a feeding ground for every PR firm. Are you a hospitality group that’s just added a glitzy sushi spot with the “BEST CRISPY RICE IN TOWN”? Odds are you’ll be featured.
But you know who doesn’t show up? The places you should be paying attention to.
Take for instance, the forthcoming Sushi Nishinokaze in Montreal, which appeared on precisely zero of these curated lists.
Well, not exactly true. It appears on the most important one.
This year’s list features 11 sushiya (down from 14 last year)
That’s not to say the openings are abating – anecdotally, the chalkboard Omakase birthrate is astronomical – but the dearth of sushiya has made it harder to standout.
I was going to include two more, the new Wegman’s Omakase (a real thing) and Sushi Nakazawa Los Angeles, but I’m trying this thing where I avoid cynical PR stunts.
Most importantly, I make zero representations that any of these places will actually be any good, so save your angry emails.
Thanks for reading.
I’ve avoided Ito’s original location in lower Manhattan, but the sushiya helmed by Masashi Ito (ex of Sushi Zo, a sushiya I reviewed here) and Kevin Kim has received its share of accolades. So, of course I’m going to notice when such a sushiya plans a second location for the 67th floor of a hotel in Las Vegas, one of my favourite cities.
Ito Las Vegas will be housed at the new Fontainebleau, inside something called the Poodle Room (I’m not making this up), targeting a $400 omakase for 20 courses.
As a side note, I’m shocked there haven’t been more higher-end sushiya openings on the strip. Money to burn + vacationers + a petri dish of flaunting = an inviting atmosphere.
I’m a little skeptical about Juno, a forthcoming six-seat Omakase-only counter in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood. It’s not just the ethos of the sushiya, which promises Tokyo-meets-Tulum (as in, Mexico), but its aspiration to be the first gluten-free omakase. Uhhh, may need a food scientist here, but isn’t nearly every ingredient in sushi – including the shari (rice) – already gluten-free? Alas. London needs more sushiya, and therefore I’m intrigued. The plan is 15 courses for 180 GBP.
Makoto Okuwa has already built a diverse portfolio of Japanese restaurants. He has an eponymous Bal Harbour sushiya that I enjoyed. He runs a food hall in DC called Love, Makoto. And sometime in 2024, the second location of Makoto will open at the Grand Hyatt in Vail. Vail, also known as “Aspen for not-assholes”, is in desperate need of more sushiya.
I wouldn’t normally put Nobu on this list, but Toronto has been talking about this opening for 5 years. Seriously, here is an article from January 2023 talking about how Nobu would “finally open in Toronto this year”. Woops!
Anyways, as a native Torontonian, I can say there’s nothing my people love more than an American chain arriving 10 years too late, so here you go.
Atlanta isn’t just one of my favourite cities – I spent considerable time there in my early 20s – but also, beyond a select few, strangely lacking high-quality sushiya. Hopefully that starts to change with Omakase by Ito, an upcoming sushiya on the 8th floor of Spring Quarter, a development north of 10th street near something called the downtown connector. The operator is Fuyuhiko Ito, well-known for Buckhead’s MF Sushi and Umi.
Little peak behind the curtain here. Kansas City has taken a lot of shrapnel in The Sushi Legend Universe. We don’t need to re-explore the past, but I think the anger started about the time that some local Kansas City hack stole Ben Zobrist’s home run in the 2015 ALCS.
Anyways, this is another city that deserves better quality sushiya. David Utterback – of Omaha’s renowned Yoshitomo – did a pop-up there recently, and now Sushi Kodawari, a sushiya from Karson Thompson, launches early this year. Thompson’s story is interesting – he’s former attorney that made a career change during COVID. We’ll see how that works, but KC is certainly ready for it. Ps: Kodawari means the relentless pursuit of perfection.
Tokyo’s Sushi Mitani is notorious for three things: Excellent sushi (duh), a multi-year wait for reservations, and their wine pairings. There has been no official confirmation that they are opening an outpost in New York City, but a legend I trust tipped me off. Since I have zero journalistic standards, up it goes on this list.
It probably deserves a larger article, but here’s what The World’s 50 Best says about its Shinjuku honten (flagship):
Comprising just eight seats hidden behind a wooden door marked with a sign no bigger than a bathroom tile, you could easily walk past this gastronomic giant without blinking an eye. Yet this is the sushi fan’s equivalent of El Dorado. Reservations are famously taken only from 10am on January 1, with most years booking up within the hour. Yasuhiko Mitsuya has a particular interest in techniques that originated in Tokyo’s Edomae period and much of the fish he uses is house cured.
I shouldn’t even be putting Namba on this list. You won’t be able to eat there unless you’re a member, and you can’t become a member unless you pay $10,000. And once you pay 10 large, the Omakase is apparently $400 to $500.
But here’s the thing. Hidefumi Namba is one of the most revered Shokunin (masters) in Japan. His eponymous sushiya, Sushi Namba (Nanba) Hibiya,is one of Tokyo’s most popular. His obsessive management of the temperature of not just the shari, but also the Tane (essentially the toppings), is the stuff of legends/random Tabelog reviews.
Woops: Did some (very deep) digging. Turns out Namba-san won’t actually be behind the Miami counter, except for a month around opening and one week each quarter (I’ll believe it when I see it). Instead, it will be run by his apprentice, Yuma Takanashi. Apprentices opening their own shops is entirely normal. Less normal is literally every article insinuating it will be Namba-san itself. So I’m leaving this up to avoid anyone get duped. Hate dupes.
Sushi Noz recently received a second Michelin star – which I covered live like a real journalist right here – and it will hope to receive similar acclaim in Los Angeles next winter. It’s unclear who the Itamae at this location will be, but if anyone knows, drop me a line at email@example.com.
I reviewed the original here.
Now we reach my most anticipated sushiya on this list. In 2021, I visited Sushi Nishinokaze in an unassuming strip mall in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. I loved it.
And then in 2022, despite overwhelmingly positive reviews, Itamae Vincent Gee unexpectedly closed the restaurant.
He spent the next year refining his craft in Japan, an extraordinary move. How many of us would respond to success by taking a year off to get better?
His return, also called Sushi Nishinokaze, opens this fall in the Mile End neighborhood of Montreal. Just in time for the Habs annual march towards the first overall pick.
Sushi Sho – the group responsible for some of the planet’s most coveted sushi experiences – is coming to New York City from its Waikiki, Hawaii location helmed by Keiji Nakazawa, one of the world’s great Sushi Shokunin. A little birdie tells me February.
Will it do gangbusters if it comes despite a city saturated with options? Yes. Here’s what I wrote when I visited Tokyo’s Sushisho Masa in 2016:
“If you’re unfamiliar, Masa-san trained for years under Keiji Nakazawa, who currently operates Sushi Sho in Honolulu. When people talk about real sushi legends (rather than just *cough* bloggers with a taste for raw fish *cough*), Nakazawa’s name is front and centre. Sushisho Masa is named in tribute.”
I wrote a detailed preview of Sushi Sho’s venture to New York City here.