Food & Drink

Nice rolled in rice: Locals recommend their favorite sushi spots in Manatee County

Sushi: A Japanese dish that has become Americanized to the point that you can buy it ready-made at most grocery stores.

Sushi scholars (yes, that’s a thing) told food culture magazine First We Feast that the two cultures continue to trade ideas on the subject. Some restaurants in Japan now offer U.S.-style sushi, and some American restaurants are getting back to the traditional format of the dish.

However they eat it, folks seem to agree that it makes for a tasty and intriguing meal.

We asked members of our Facebook group “Manatee Eats” where to get the best sushi in Manatee County; here’s where they recommend.

Before we get started, some quick terminology:

Maki sushi: Rice and fish (raw or cooked) or other ingredients rolled with seaweed. Best eaten with your fingers.

Nigiri sushi: Rice topped with raw fish — no seaweed involved. Best eaten with chopsticks.

Sashimi: Thinly sliced raw fish or meat; no rice. Sashimi is not sushi, but it’s often sold alongside it.

Also remember that it’s customary to tip your sushi chef in addition to tipping on your bill.

If you’ve never tried sushi or you are still unsure about how to eat it, check out this video before you roll up to the sushi bar:

sam oh jung sushi
The “Nina Roll” at Sam Oh Jung in Bradenton is a California roll wrapped in avocado and topped with baked crab. Sam Oh Jung

Sam Oh Jung

Sam Oh Jung is an Asian fusion eatery in Bradenton that delivers on three regional cuisines: Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

Sushi occupies most of the menu, and it’s where the restaurant truly shines.

Nigiri and maki sushi is artfully crafted and plated with a visual pop. Sam Oh Jung also offers some unique rolls (try the avocado-wrapped and baked-crab-topped “Nina Roll”) and hard-to-find ingredients like uni (that’s sea urchin — specifically, sea urchin gonads).

Details: Sam Oh Jung is at 6032 14th St. W., Bradenton.

Info: facebook.com/samohjung.

Thai Wasabi

Thai Wasabi in Bradenton offers Thai food and sushi for lunch and dinner.

The sushi menu is extensive and divided into cooked and raw categories for convenience.

One special offering is the “Manatee Roll,” which is made with tempura salmon, carrot, scallion, cucumber, roe, avocado and spicy mayo. You can order it mild, medium or hot.

The sushi chefs of Thai Wasabi are not afraid to share some of the secrets of their craft, either. Restaurant staff created a YouTube video series titled “Sushi in 60 Seconds” that details how to make several popular rolls.

Details: Thai Wasabi is at 5250 State Road 64 E., Bradenton.

Info: thaiwasabi.com.

sushi hana yellowtail roll
The “Angel Yellowtail Roll” at Sushi Hana in Bradenton is rolled with with spicy yellowtail and avocado, then topped with more yellowtail and scallions. Sushi Hana

Sushi Hana

Sandwiched between a Chinese restaurant and a sub shop, this Bradenton sushi spot is easy to miss.

You wouldn’t want to do that, though.

Step inside and you’ll find a cozy interior and a whopping sushi menu.

Some standouts are the “Kamikaze Roll” (made with crab, asparagus, avocado, topped with salmon and deep-fried); the “Handsome Boy Roll” (rolled with spicy tuna, spicy salmon and cucumber, topped with white tuna and jalapeno and wrapped in soy paper); and the “Christmas Roll” (made with tuna, eel and avocado and topped with salmon and crunchy bits, plus seaweed salad and flying fish roe for a red-and-green finish).

Details: Sushi Hana is at 4274 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton.

Info: sushihanabradenton.com.

Other recommendations

Rice Bowl Asian House, 7305 52nd Place E., Bradenton.

Hideko Sushi and Thai, 737 Eighth Ave. W., Palmetto

Yuniku Endless Sushi & Hibachi, 8341 Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota

Kiku Sushi & Grill, 7338 Cortez Road W., Bradenton

Mizu Sushi & Hibachi Express, 1859 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Bradenton

Stone Bowl Pan Asian Express, 5516 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton

Samurai Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, 4446, 3611 First St., Bradenton

Fusion Sushi in DeSoto Square mall, 303 U.S. 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton

Pier 22 Restaurant, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton

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Ryan Ballogg covers arts, entertainment, dining, breaking and local news for the Bradenton Herald. He won first place for feature writing in the Florida Press Club’s 2018 Excellence in Journalism Competition. Ryan is a Florida native and graduated from University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
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