The best Japanese restaurants in Rome
Every time I go to a new country I have to try the sushi, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of sushi in Rome, which is among the most popular foods. Below I have listed some of the best Japanese restaurants I’ve visited where you can devour fantastic sashimi, rolls, soup and sake!
Via dei Serpenti, 27 (Monti)
Hasekura is conveniently located in the Monti neighbourhood, in fact I found this place after walking around the Colosseum for hours and had that oh so familiar sushi craving. Hasekura is a little pricey, but wow the sashimi was some of the best I have tasted – fresh melt-in-your mouth texture. The small sushi plates are beautifully presented and go down well with their delicious jasmine tea. I also recommend trying the fish soba (noodles in a miso broth) which was bursting with delicate flavours. The restaurant is quite small but the elegant decor adds to its authentic character. I was fortunate enough to go at lunch before it got too busy, but I would recommend booking if you are going around dinner time.
Via del Gazometro, 54 (Testaccio)
Sakana is located in a peaceful area away from the centre, but don’t be fooled as it was very busy! Sakana is on par with Hasekura in terms of freshness and quality of the food. The restaurant is traditional but also has some innovative ‘fusion’ dishes to try – the menu boasts a large variety of rolls, salads and rice dishes. I would definitely recommend the spicy tuna and salmon, with some Gyoza (Japanese dumplings) on the side. If you don’t want to overdo it with the carbs then opt for a salad – I tried the tofu one and it was delicious. An added bonus is sitting at the conveyer belt where you can pick and choose what dishes to try. Or if you’re like me, you can sit at the sushi bar and spend hours indulging in small talk with the chefs whilst watching them make artwork out of sushi. I should also mention the service was superb – prompt and friendly!
Doozo Art Books and Sushi
Via Palermo, 51 (Esquilino)
Not what you would usually expect from a sushi restaurant as this place doubles as a bookshop and art gallery. I’m so glad I stumbled upon Doozo as it was a real treat and great value for money. It’s a good idea to go at lunch time when you have some time to spare as the service can be slow but it also gives you time to explore the bookshelf and the array of artwork. I suggest trying the fried vegetable tempura and ordering a sushi bento box (which includes an assortment of nigiri, rolls, rice and miso soup). Doozo also runs exhibitions and regular classes in ceramics and sushi making. The best feature of Doozo is its quaint garden where you can sit and read one of the books whilst sipping a Japanese beer or Green Tea. A hidden gem of a place and I can’t wait to go back!
Passeggiata di Ripetta, 15 (Centro Storico)
Rokko is an excellent place for an evening dinner as it has a broad range of Japanese dishes on offer if you want something more than sushi/sashimi. I tried the salmon which was cooked to perfection, mouth-watering in fact! The seafood salad was also amazing, especially polished off with a glass of plum wine. The drinks menu is vast with various liquors, wine and a variety of cocktails. The restaurant is large and the walls are gardened with authentic oriental decorations. Definitely worth a visit!
Via della Fontanella di Borghese, 48 (Centro Storico)
When you hear “Zuma”, it’s inevitable your eyes will start to sparkle. Internationally renowned for its top quality contemporary Japanese cuisine and izakaya dining, it wouldn’t feel right if they hadn’t conquered a place in the Eternal City too. And what a place! In the heart of Rome’s Tridente area, inside the luxurious Palazzo Fendi, you’ll find Zuma’s unmistakable design and food. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Zuma, think uber trendy, sleek design, where food and cocktails are the protagonists. The sushi and sashimi are as fresh as they get, but the warm dishes are also to die for. A must-order? The shrimp and black cod gyoza. If you’re up for an aperitivo, you can’t miss out on their rooftop bar where mind-blowing cocktails, crispy tempuras, a terrific view and a cool crowd mix to create the perfect experience. Reserve in advance for dinner!
Via della Mercede, 35/36 (Centro Storico)
This is where Japanese people come to enjoy their national cuisine. And I can assure you, Hamasei is a guarantee when it comes to sushi, sashimi and traditional Japanese cuisine. Located just a stone’s throw away from the Spanish Steps, this restaurant offers an authentic Japanese experience and only the finest of raw fish cuts. The design is elegant and reflects Japanese culture with a slight Western influence. Whether you stop for lunch or dinner, don’t leave Hamasei without trying the urafutomaki, the sashimi morikomi and the exceptional tempura. For lunch, the various bento boxes come at a bargain considering their quality. Just a heads up, the kitchen closes at 10.45pm, so don’t get your dinner reservations too late!
Via Goffredo Mameli, 5 (Trastevere)
With its cute eateries and characteristic trattorias, Trastevere is among the most cherished neighbourhoods of Rome. But there’s another side to the Trastevere you know of, and you’ll get a taste of it when you step inside the ultra trendy Japanese and fusion restaurant, Somo. A sleek and fancy design awaits you, accompanied by dimmed lights, a DJ and musicians playing their saxophones. If you’re searching for a great ambiance, Somo delivers. But its food is also top quality. Choose from a variety of traditional Japanese food, or go with their fusion dishes. Since we’re talking about sushi, the sushi set is a must order! The salmon, red shrimp and California rolls are great, not to mention their sea bass and lime roll! And of course, a round (or two) of cocktails is a must!
Via degli Scipioni, 243 (Prati)
In the trendy Prati neighbourhood, you’ll find one of Rome’s all-time favorite sushi restaurants, Zen. Sleek and contemporary designs along with two different dining formulas await you. If you’re searching for something casual, sit at the sushi-go-round Sushi Bar and grab the plates of your choice. Each dish is marked with a different color, indicating the price. While if you’re up for a more proper dining experience, sit down in the beautiful restaurant to go on a Japanese culinary journey. The sushi and sashimi at Zen is a guarantee, you’ll only find top quality fish cuts that will literally melt in your mouth. If you’re a sushi boat fan, definitely go with the Chef boat, composed of an amazing selection of raw fish: from red shrimp and prawns to oysters and sea urchins. While the second is filled with nigiri, sushi, sashimi and hosomaki prepared with the catch of the day! If you want to embark on a Japanese tasting journey in a contemporary and trendy setting, definitely make a reservation at Zen!
Via Giuseppe Giulietti, 21 (Testaccio)
Sushisen is a piece of Japan in the heart of Rome. Located in the Testaccio neighbourhood, everything from the service to the setting and food, mixes together perfectly to give you that Japanese experience you were searching for. If you haven’t reserved, your only option is the sushi-go-round bar, where you will taste different kinds of Japanese delicacies in a more causal ambiance. While if you’re searching for the ultimate dining experience, make sure to have reserved well in advance, this place books up fast (and for good reason)! Starting with the menu, the Chef places a lot of attention to seasonal products, so expect varying dishes each time. The sushi rolls are amazing, you’ll find a selection of both traditional rolls as well as Sushisen’s signature rolls. Don’t forget to try the Ebiten Pistachio roll and the temakis!
Kiko Sushi Bar
Piazzale del Verano, 90/91 (San Lorenzo)
Venturing outside Rome’s most popular neighbourhoods has its pros. And if you’re a sushi lover, venturing into the the San Lorenzo neighbourhood, into Kiko Sushi Bar, will definitely turn out to be a great decision. At this restaurant, tradition meets design in a lovely contemporary space where Japanese food is the protagonist. Master Atsufumi Kikuchi – known for mixing traditional Japanese cuisine to New York cuisine – makes his creations come to life at this charming restaurant, where with each dish you’ll embark on a culinary journey across oriental flavors. Sit down at the sushi bar or in the main dining room to taste some of the freshest sushi in town. The menu is extensive, especially in the sushi and sashimi department! The salads are also to die for, you can’t not order the signature Kiko salad! And definitely don’t miss out on the rainbow rolls! From tempura to sushi, sashimi and miso, Kiko Sushi Bar has it all! There’s also a wide selection of oriental beers, sake, whiskey and more!
Via Marianna Dionigi, 56 (Prati)
This Japanese restaurant in Prati mixes elegance with a contemporary setting that is able to take you to the orient. The dark interiors create a contrast with the lighting creating a relaxed and refined setting. But it isn’t just the cool design that’s great at Taki, their menu is a triumph of Japanese dishes, ranging from cold and warm dishes to classic sushi, sashimi and nigiri. A special note should go to the Wagyu beef which comes directly from the central Japanese alps from the Gifu Prefecture. To pair with your experience, a great wine selection awaits you. Great for special occasions.