If there’s one thing I love, it’s Sushi, maybe more than I love Alan, but it surely was love at first sight when to my surprise Alan brought Sushi (and my favourite smoothie) to the beach on our first date. I remember telling him I’ll get the wine since that’s one thing I don’t like experimenting with, but more on that in another blog post!
My love for sushi surely wasn’t love at first sight. Way back in the Summer of 2006 I was on a trip to Latvia representing Malta in the European Youth Parliament. One evening we had a stand up reception at this local eatery in Ventspills and the only thing the waiters were coming round with were these weird looking thing on a platter. I didn’t want to try it, it didn’t seem at all appetising, and I didn’t know what it was. About an hour later I was starving, and knowing there weren’t any restaurants in the area, I asked what it was, and I was told “Fish”. Now coming from the middle of the Mediterranean, I do love my fish so I said, what the heck, I’m gonna try this! The next waiter came round, and sure enough I took one and put it in my mouth. I remember it was chewy, had a weird flavour, and I nearly chocked trying to swallow it. Two weeks later I was back in Malta and I was telling my mom about this weird fish which I hated, and I remember her telling me that it must have been Sushi by the way I described it.
Fast forward quite a few years later, and one of my closest friends, Claude wanted to try this sushi restaurant in Malta. I must admit, I wasn’t all that excited, but he persuaded me, and I fell in love <3
Sure enough, years after my first experience with sushi I came to learn that it was Tako Nigiri, and till this day, it’s pretty much the only thing I don’t eat when we’re out eating Sushi.
When we’re abroad, we make it a point to visit some sushi restaurants, and so this is a collection of the 10 best sushi restaurants we’ve been to around the world:
This restaurant was buzzing on a weekday. I came across it whilst walking in their adjacent garden, and I thought lets try it, thinking I’m gonna have something along the lines of a fish and chips from it’s name – but boy was I surprised when they asked if I wanted the full menu, or the Sushi menu… “Sushi menu please” I said with a huge grin on my face! The result was this picture above, a bottle of vino, and an amazing desert (Tiramisu).
9th place: Oshi, Limmasol, Cyprus
The food here was divine. This was our first plate of Tuna and Salmon sashimi. What we remember most about this restaurant though was the table. The table was an interactive screen where you can order your food and drinks, watch a live cam from the kitchen, call your waiter, or read some interesting facts about the different rolls and the different type of fish they use. Definitely worth the experience.
8th place: Hashi Sushi, Gdansk, Poland
This was a place we found on our second night of our week long trip to Gdansk. We first made fun of it’s name (Yes, we are Maltese after all!). Alan then pointed out that they have a “special” on the menu where instead of your food being served on a plate, it can be served in the next room on a naked woman which is known as Nyotaimori, something to feast on both with your eyes as well as your taste buds as he so politely put it. Needless to say, we didn’t try their special, but they sushi was still the best we’ve tried in Poland, and we ended up going again after 2 days.
7th place: Sushi King, Napa Valley, California, USA
Napa was one of our stops during our West Coast winter road trip honeymoon in December 2016/January 2017. It was one of the fewest stops I haven’t been to yet, and me being a lover of wine, this was the place I was looking forward to the most as we had a week full of wine tastings and tours around vineyards planned ahead. However, during our first night there I ended up in hospital for the whole week, and after over a week of barely eating anything, Alan decided to cheer me up with lunch – and he took me to this place! My stomach wasn’t 100% there yet, so all I ate were not even a quarter of what you see in the picture – but that was just enough to make it this high up on my rank as boy was I blown away.
6th place: Osaka, Japan
I wish I remember the name, or the area we were at when we stumbled upon this restaurant, but all I remember was that we were in Osaka, the made us wait in their waiting area outside the restaurant long enough that Alan fell asleep (then we realised that more than half the tables were empty inside), and the price tag on these 2 plates were out of this world expensive – but damn was it worth it! Every bite seemed like it was melting in our mouths.
5th place: Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan
If there’s one thing we both love when exploring a bit city, is their fish markets. So off we went to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, and to date it is still our favorite one (but more on that in another blog too). This street vendor called us aside and ushered us to a little alley and told us to go through this tiny door (both in width and in height). You’d think you’re about to loose a major organ or two but you still enter out of curiosity and find yourself in a tiny room with no more than 6 chairs in front of the Chef’s work station, and 1 Chef behind. We left it in his hands to give us whatever he wanted, after all, we were in Tokyo, and I ended up with this amazing plate whilst Alan had a string of different Nigiri’s on his plate. Both were amazing and one of the best we’ve had in Japan (I might have stolen one off his plate when he was chatting with the Chef).
4th place: Sasa Asian Pub Caca, Sofia, Bulgaria
I was alone in Bulgaria on a business trip as Alan was in the middle of an Electoral Campaign back in Malta so he couldn’t join. I spent 5 days in Bulgaria, and apart from the one lunch I had at a typical Bulgarian restaurant, the rest of my meals, both lunch and dinners, were in fact Sushi This was one of my favourites, I found it on my second night, and I was back the next day for lunch to try something different off their extensive menu. If it wasn’t for my rental car being clamped in front of the restaurant, I would have been back, but that put me off parking in that area again.
3rd place: Sanzen, Tokyo, Japan
Our last night in Tokyo we were wondering around the area of our apartment when we see a narrow side-road filled with shops, so we went in and found this little number in the middle of it. The place was empty (but so were others as it was already late by now). The waitress had already gone home, the Chef couldn’t speak a word of English, and we couldn’t speak a word of Japanese, so out came out phone and our translation app. We asked him to feed us whatever he wanted. He came out with a chart to rate how hungry we are so he’ll know how much he should make, the chart was from “peanuts” to “elephant” – of course we both went for the elephant, and this guy kept feeding us one nigiri after another. He only did Sashimi and Nigiri’s, no rolls, and whenever we told him we loved one of them, he’ll try the same type of fish in a different style so we can have variation on fish we loved too. Result: Language barrier, no problem – just sit down and eat what the locals give you!
2nd place: SushiBa, St. Julians, Malta
We were at the cinema just a few meters away from this place one day when I saw on Facebook that a new place called SushiBa was opening that very same night. I didn’t need to convince Alan to go as he quickly jumped up and said “that’s where we’re going after this movie”. I remember walking in and only seeing Nick, the owner, and thinking “Nah, this isn’t going to be good – he isn’t even Asian, he’s Maltese!”. We sat down anyways, Alan got chatting with him, the guy recognised Alan from TV and out came his wife from the kitchen, Chef Donna and I thought to myself “Ahh, she’s the Asian one”. We tried various different rolls that day, and decided to go back 2 days later to try more, and we keep going there every time we want Sushi in Malta now. Their menu is always upgrading, which keeps regulars like us on their toes. Donna also takes requests to tailor make whatever I like that isn’t on the menu, and they are both just so nice! I love sitting on the other side of Donna’s work station and watch her work – it always fascinates me to see how passionate she is about the art of sushi making.
and the WINNER is…. Sakana, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Alan wanted to get off the Strip as I always tell him there’s a whole city on either side of the strip (it was his first time in Vegas compared to my 8th), I wanted Sushi – a bit of research online and we found glowing reviews about this place. We parked up-front and I was already thinking “those reviews are probably from friends and family, or bought” – bright neon lights covered the façade with words like “sushi”, “open”, “welcome”, a bunch of Japanese words, and a few more “sushi”. We went in, and the place was literally packed! The waiters barely had any space to go in between tables. We wrote our name on the waiting list – and we sat outside waiting to be called. We were number 17 on the waiting list, and sure enough, table by table, patrons went in. Table number 12 was about to be called – but then the waitress said that the available table was only for 2 people, so being the next in line as a party of 2 (as the others were groups of friends, or families), we skipped the queue and in we went. It works similar to an all you can eat – but different at the same time. You pay a fixed rate, which wasn’t cheap, especially for Vegas, and then you choose whatever you want from the menu. You can order however many times as you want. We first ordered 4 different things just to test it out, and soon after ordered more. The next day when Alan asked what I wanted for lunch, I went “Sushi” and off to this place we went again, but this time for lunch. It was still packed, but without the queue out-front. The ambiance is typical Japanese, the price wasn’t cheap as I said, but it was fair for what we got in return, the service was amazing (but then again, everywhere is like that in Vegas), and the food was truly to die for.
Bonus rank: Home-made Sushi by Tiffany
Whenever I have a whole day to myself, I like to indulge and surprise Alan with a bit of home-made sushi. When we’re at restaurants I like to sit in front of the Chef’s area to be able to observe and learn their techniques, in fact, SushiBa’s Chef has been a great inspiration to my home-made sushi as she also explains what she’s doing if she isn’t super busy. Whenever I have a go in the kitchen, this is the sort of plates we end up with in the end!