Where to Find the Best Japanese Restaurants in Boston
Where to Get Amazing Food in Boston for under $20
Where to Get Amazing Food in Boston for under $20
Whether for sushi, omakase, ramen, or izakaya vibes, Boston has a Japanese restaurant to fit the mood. For special occasions and casual nights out—and even staying in—you can expect fresh seafood and steaming bowls of umami goodness. With both budget-friendly and splurge-worthy meals, from modern and traditional spots alike, we’ve rounded up the best Japanese restaurants in Boston.
Best Japanese Restaurants in Boston
Formerly a family restaurant for nearly 40 years, Cafe Sushi Shoten has reinvented itself as a Japanese specialty and sake shop that continues to capture hearts and satisfy sushi cravings with takeout. The Harvard Square spot maintains strong relationships with both Japanese and New England seafood purveyors, providing super fresh and unique flavor combinations like Madai Fresco (Japanese sea bream with wasabi oil, lemon and rock salt) and Salmon Tosa (a salmon and avocado maki roll topped with katsuobushi). Fun fact: the vast majority of the menu is gluten-free. Take me there.
Ebi Sushi is your quintessential neighborhood sushi joint. No need to save for a special occasion; this Union Square spot remains affordable, delicious, and not to mention, super stylish with some sweet wall murals. The expansive menu serves everything from beautiful sashimi to non-sushi items like eight-hour pork belly buns, donburi bowls, and mochi ice cream. This casual spot is great for groups who want to order a little bit of everything, or those nights when you want to stay in and enjoy our favorite Miso Salmon Roll from the comfort of your own couch. Take me there.
Head over to Inman Square to the hole-in-the-wall Momi Nomni for chef’s-choice sushi and top-shelf sake. Chef-owner Chris Chung takes monthly reservations at Momi Nomni for nigiri omakase dinners ranging from 14 to 24 pieces featuring high-quality seafood from Japan and the U.S. Dining in is a chef-guided experience, but with 24 hours’ notice, you can preorder sushi, rice bowls and other a la carte dishes to-go such as A5 wagyu and Miso Roasted Fish Collar of the day. The chef’s omakase is even available for takeout. For the most up-to-date dishes and last-minute omakase availability, be sure to check Instagram. Take me there.
Below street level and through the tropical cocktail oasis of Shore Leave, No Relation is tucked away in an intimate room. Here, culinary thrillseekers will have a front-row seat to an inventive, 14-course omakase led by Shore Leave chef-owner Colin Lynch. Opt for beverage pairings of sake or wine, or go all in for the super-premium sake pairing to really enhance the dining experience. Reservations for this (not-so) secret nine-seat sushi bar are required and paid for in advance; be sure to follow No Relation on Instagram for last-minute seat openings. Take me there.
A legendary player in the East Coast sushi game, O Ya remains a crown jewel of the Boston dining scene, even 15 years after its debut. Known for beyond-stunning nigiri, the Leather District restaurant only offers an extravagant omakase experience of 20 courses, featuring sushi and sashimi as well as cooked dishes. The juxtaposition of the dark, minimalist dining room to the colorful, indulgent, James Beard award-winning bites is the perfect backdrop for a special occasion or annual splurge. Take me there.
Omakase translates to “I’ll leave it up to you,” and we’re happy to say the word at Umami Omakase. Chef Gary Lei, an Uni alum, takes the lead to bring diners on an 18-course culinary journey at this Porter Square Japanese restaurant. From assorted sashimi and sushi to decadent bites like Japanese A5 wagyu, foie gras, and truffle chawanmushi (a savory steamed egg custard), each dish is presented beautifully. In addition to the tasting menu, there are sake tasting flights with three, four, or five different sips—a treat for both sake lovers and novices alike. And for a fancy night in, omakase as well as a la carte options and sake are available for pre-ordered takeout. Take me there.
Originally a small sushi bar within Ken Oringer’s bygone fine-dining game changer Clio, Uni came into its own several years ago. It’s always been a special place, serving the freshest seafood from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market and from local New England fisherman, along with thrilling cocktails. With innovations like Foie Gras Nigiri, Spicy Negihama sushi roll with gochujang-leek miso, and the legendary Maine Uni Spoon, a meal at Uni is sure to be an unforgettable one. Take me there.
Davis Square favorite Sugidama is a cozy, casual Japanese tavern with an extensive menu. (Note: the restaurant is currently closed and poised to reopen in March 2023 in a new neighborhood location.) House-made soba noodles are served both hot and cold; we love the bowl of Sukiyaki, a super-umami soup of smoky-salty pork, soft tofu, scallion, and a poached egg. Beyond the noods, there’s plenty more to choose from, including sushi and yakitori (grilled skewers), like the temptingly textural Beef-Enoki yakitori combo of short rib and mushroom. Cocktails, meanwhile, use top-shelf spirits despite relative-bargain prices. Take me there.
Chef Masuo Onishi opened his ramen shop in Davis Square after more than a decade of experience in Osaka, Japan, with the intriguing idea of only being open for 1,000 days. Well, 1,000 days have come and gone, but Tsurumen 1000 remains committed to quality and authenticity. Noodles, broth, and sauces are prepared daily from scratch for each meticulously crafted bowl. The Signature Shoyu, for example, features thin noodles and clear chicken broth with soy sauce tare; while the Maze Soba gets flat noodles and chicken oil and garlic sauce, each with its own set of toppings. To experience the ramen shop firsthand, Tsurumen 1000 is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Take me there.
The passion is evident in every fresh, quality noodle bowl from Yume Ga Arukara. Located inside an open-to-the-public food hall on Lesley University’s Porter Square campus, Yume Ga Arukara keeps things simple with just four options to try the handmade udon noodles: Cold Niku Udon, Spicy Cold Niku Udon, Hot Niku Udon, and Spicy Hot Niku Udon. The noodle shop offers dine-in on a first-come, first-serve basis, as well as takeout. Take me there.
The perpetual line outside Yume Wo Katare is a bit reminiscent of its noodle house-neighbor, Sapporo, but otherwise this is a very different ramen experience—and equally worth the wait. The massive, piping-hot bowl from Yume Wo Katare is an absolute umami bomb of fat noodles and a porky, 24-hour broth that’s showered in garlic. But what really makes this Porter Square place unique? If you order a “free dream,” you’ll be asked to stand up after eating and share your hope, goal, or fantasy with the crowd. It’s a strange and essential dining experience with some of the best ramen around. Take me there.
The animated, musically-centric izakaya Hojoko is nestled in the Fenway neighborhood as the hotel restaurant of the Verb. From restaurateurs Tim and Nancy Cushman of O Ya fame, Hojoko sources similar specialties for sushi and small plates, yet it’s more of an everyday place. The menu is a mix of Japanese bar food like Karaage Fried Chicken, robata-grilled specials, Funky Chicken Ramen, and the Hojoko Wagyu Cheeseburger, with maki rolls and wacky takes like Wasabi Roulette (order if you dare). Pair with a stiff frozen cocktail or punch bowl to share with friends. Take me there.
Boston’s first dedicated sake bar, The Koji Club demystifies the nuanced drink with great approachability. Founded by certified sake somm Alyssa DiPasquale, The Koji Club’s highly-curated list spans flavors from effervescent and floral to rich and fruity, paired with Japanese snacks including a family recipe for pickles served with white rice. Part of Brighton’s Charles River Speedway marketplace, The Koji Club also teams up with local food businesses for regular special pop-ups. On weekends, the tiny sake bar hosts ticketed tastings, karaoke nights, and more unexpected fun. Take me there.
Founded on the pillars of food, community, and collaboration, Pagu is an izakaya-meets-tapas restaurant just outside of MIT. Chef Tracy Chang is not only inspired by her travels around the world, but also on experiences right at home. The Central Square dinner menu is dynamic with dishes like Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, assorted bao buns, and Roasted Big Eye Tuna Collar for the table, along with Spanish classics and creations. Even the beverage program is creatively influenced: Take the Kyoto Temple, for instance, with green tea-infused Japanese whisky, fino sherry, and applewood smoke. As far as the community is concerned, locals love bringing home meal kits and more from the takeout Pagu Market, and suburban pickups are also frequent. Take me there.
Ruka at Downtown Crossing’s Godfrey Hotel has made a name for itself by honing in on Nikkei, a cuisine that blends Peruvian ingredients and Japanese techniques. From unique sushi rolls to wok-fried dishes, expect sweet, hot, earthy, and bright flavor combinations. Take the Hamachi Ceviche, for example, mixing charred jalapeño, coconut, leche de tigre, and avocado with Okinawan chips and sushi rice. The fusion flair extends to the “resto bar’s” beverage program, with a riff on the classic Pisco Sour called the Aki Sour, made with Japanese whisky, applejack, lemon and baking spices; and a “Tea Service” section filled with serves-two cocktails. Take me there.
Located at the Back Bay Four Seasons Hotel a couple stories above street-level, Zuma is part of an international collection of swanky Japanese restaurants with locations ranging from Dubai to Mykonos. The high-end address of One Dalton Street welcomes jetsetters and locals alike with a sumptuous setting and izakaya-style menus for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Three lively, open kitchens offer a wide variety of authentic, if not quite traditional Japanese cuisine, including sushi, sashimi, and robata-grilled dishes. Try the Maguro no Tataki (seared tuna) with chili daikon and ponzu sauce, and Beef Skewers with shishito pepper and smoked-chili soy. Take me there.