4 Best Japanese Restaurants Near Raleigh
Japanese cuisine has developed over centuries of social and economic changes in the country. Originally, the Japanese shunned meat and their dishes were based around rice, fish, and vegetables. However, since the late 19th century, meat-based dishes have become more common.
Japanese food, particularly sushi, is now popular around the world, and Raleigh is fortunate in having many high-quality Japanese restaurants. These are just four of the best that Raleigh has to offer.
City Market Sushi
The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
Waraji Japanese Restaurant
Sono, located on Fayetteville Street, has a vibrant, modern and upscale feel. The color red has a great deal of symbolism in Japan, with meanings including fertility and wealth, and the color abounds in Sono. The sleek bar is great for people-watching while you’re enjoying a cocktail.
The varied menu has plenty of gluten-free options. The Japanese word “omakase” means “I’ll leave it to you,” and at Sono, you can leave it to the chefs. Order Omakase and they will create fresh dishes for you, based on your taste.
This sushi restaurant on Blake Street is a must-try. The interior is dark and modern and, although it can be quite noisy, it retains an intimate atmosphere. The service is friendly and efficient. There is no bar but, if you have to wait for a table, they will serve you drinks in a small seating area.
The menu is extensive and includes a selection of lunch boxes, which are a good way of trying a variety of dishes. The specialty rolls are a feast for the eyes as well as your mouth, and the Ultimate Rainbow roll, in particular, stands out. For dessert, the green tea crème brûlée is highly recommended.
For a completely different sushi experience, try The Cowfish on Six Forks Road. They really do create fresh sushi and burgers under the same roof and call it “Burgushi.” The multicolored walls feature off-beat artwork, and the music is an eclectic mix. A huge aquarium dominates the center of the restaurant and actually contains cowfish.
There are some weird and wonderful combinations on the menu but, if you’re not sure what to order, the friendly and very knowledgeable staff will advise you. The bar serves equally off-the-wall cocktails and martinis like The Hot Stoner and The Cucumber Mint-ini.
Located on Duraleigh Road, Waraji doesn’t look much from the outside, but the bright interior, Japanese-style furnishings, and modern artwork give it a lovely ambiance. You can choose to eat at the bar or at the tables. Owner and chef, Masa, was born in Japan and prides himself on the authenticity of the cuisine.
On the menu, you’ll find more than 30 appetizers, nigiri and maki sushi, sashimi and many specialty rolls, including delights such as the Sweet Dragon, Scary Jerry, and Spiral Ecstasy. Waraji also boasts the largest selection of sake in the Carolinas, with around 60 varieties. You can also sample a variety of Japanese rice-based beers.
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