With new sushi bars and ramen shops constantly opening all over the valley, it is difficult to narrow down the best places to eat. However, after factoring in quality of ingredients, authenticity, and atmosphere, we present to you our five favorite Japanese restaurants in Phoenix.
Feel free to add your favorites to the comments section below. We are always looking for new places to try!
1. Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe
Cherry Blossom is a charming cafe tucked into an unsuspecting strip mall off of Camelback and 10th Street. The Japanese food is delicious and authentic, and they additionally offer a variety of Italian menu items.
The Japanese menu is expansive and includes sushi, hot plates, and rice dishes. However we recommend ordering one of the many noodle dishes, as this is the cafe’s specialty. A few personal favorites are the Ebi-Ten Udon Soup, Shoyu Ramen, and Ika Yakisoba. They also offer a reasonable happy hour from 3-6pm on weekdays if you are interested in sampling a variety of appetizers and drinks. Save room for dessert, as the cake and pastry options are delicious!
While the staff is friendly, the service isn’t always the fastest. The atmosphere is comfortable, though, so we recommend spending ample time during your visit.
2. Nobuo at Teeter House
Located in Phoenix’s Heritage Square, Nobuo at Teeter House has become a famous site for high quality Japanese cuisine. The seasonal menu offers innovative lunch and dinner options, always prepared with fresh ingredients.
Nobuo is a great place to visit on special occasions, as the prices reflect the high quality. The venue is small, however, so couples and small groups work best. If you are planning a visit at least two weeks in advance and are willing to pay a premium, call the restaurant and request the Omakase. This allows you to “sit back and experience Nobuo’s legendary, multi-course omakase where the James Beard awarded chef dreams up a dining experience right before your eyes.”
When ordering off the regular menu, we recommend the Grapefruit & Hamachi. Nobuo is also one of the few restaurants in the valley to serve well-made Okonomiyaki, a savory pancake-type dish popular throughout Japan.
3. Dozo Izakaya
Dozo may seem an unlikely choice for the list, as it certainly does not match Nobuo’s quality or Cherry Blossom’s popularity. But it’s a great option for those living in the East Valley as well as patrons on a budget who enjoy Izakaya style Japanese cuisine.
We recommend visiting during Happy Hour (5:00-6:30pm Mon-Sat) if you are in the mood for sushi and reasonably priced house sake. The best menu items, however, are the Izakaya items on the dinner menu such as the Gyu Kushi Yaki (grilled beef) and Okura Bekon (bacon and okra). Dozo additionally offers uniquely authentic items such as Oden (fishcake soup) and Takoyaki (round octopus and flour snacks). If you’re in the mood for a more substantial dinner, the Oyakodon or various curry dishes always hit the spot.
Dozo is an ideal spot when you’re looking for comfort food, affordable pricing, and a relaxed atmosphere. As an added benefit, they are happy to cater to patrons with dietary restrictions. Don’t hesitate to ask about gluten-free options, lactose free desserts, vegetarian menu items, etc.
4. Tampopo Ramen
Tampopo Ramen recently won the “Best Ramen” award in the Phoenix New Times, and we couldn’t agree more with this choice. The small unsuspecting restaurant is somewhat hidden in a Tempe shopping center, but it has become increasingly well-known as of late.
The ramen is prepared fresh on-site, and the menu offers a variety of delicious options. The Tonkotsu Ramen is probably the most popular choice (for good reason,) although you can’t go wrong with any of the ramen options. We suggest coming hungry, as the restaurant offers kae-dama, or extra noodles, for $1.50 if you have leftover broth.
Be sure to save room for ice cream or a red bean dessert! Tampopo is also located in the same shopping center as the popular Gold Bar Cafe, which is a great alternative for dessert and coffee options after your visit.
5. Yasu Sushi Bistro
Located in North Phoenix, Yasu Sushi Bistro is a straightforward Japanese restaurant with fresh ingredients and a variety of tasty menu items. Chef Yasu Hashino has a real passion for great food and ensures the food is high quality and unique.
The bistro is of course famous for its sushi, but Yasu also features many items cooked on a Sumibiyaki, or charcoal grill. We recommend trying both! As many items are offered “tapas-style” with small portions, it is easy to sample many items during a single visit. The green bean appetizer is always a favorite.
In addition to the excellent food, Chef Hashino takes pride in offering authentic Japanese beer and wine selections. This far surpasses the normal house sake and 1-2 Japanese beer choices at most restaurants in the valley.