Best sushi in Charlotte? Here’s the definitive ranking of Charlotte’s top 10 sushi spots

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Here’s a list of Charlotte’s top 10 sushi restaurants and what to order at each spot.

As our city grows, so does our sushi scene — from new hotspots like O-Ku to neighborhood hidden gems like New Zealand Cafe. Here’s a look inside Charlotte’s top sushi restaurants.

[Honorable mentions: Upstream, Sushi 101, Jade, Yamazaru, Room 112 and Soul]


#10 Baku

Vibe: Upscale and stylish Japanese restaurant across from SouthPark mall. Excellent sake selection as well.

What to order: Baku Signature Ice Bowl ($55) – Chef’s selection of seasonal sashimi and nigiri.

baku-ice-bucket-charlotte

Baku’s Signature Ice Bucket


#9 Sushi Guru

Vibe: Simple space next to Rooster’s in SouthPark (does a big takeout business as well).

What to order: Guru Roll ($15) — Tuna, lump crab and avocado drizzled with their signature spicy aioli, flash baked and topped with fried garlic and shallots.

guru-roll-from-sushi-guru-charlotte

Guru Roll (right) is outstanding and the fried garlic on top gives it a smoky taste. On the left is the Tuna Lover Roll which isn’t nearly as tasty as the Guru Roll.


#8 Nikko

Vibe: Upscale restaurant in the heart of South End known for its dancing owner.

What to order: Red Dragon Roll ($13) — Shrimp tempura rolled in rice; avocado, eel on top. Eel, shrimp tempura, cucumber, tuna avocado, spicy eel sauce.

nikko-red-dragon-sushi-roll-charlotte

#2 sushi restaurant atmosphere behind O-Ku. Prices are a little high, but rolls are delicious and it’s walkable to multiple other South End spots. It’s also a close drive to Uptown or Montford. 


#7 Pisces

Vibe: Lounge feel with black leather seats in the Metropolitan.

What to order: Screaming “O” Roll — Spicy tuna, shrimp tempura roll, topped with seared tuna, jalapeño and spicy screaming “O” sauce ($14).

[Agenda story: Strategies to maximize the $11 all-you-can-eat sushi lunch special at Pisces]

screaming-o-sushi-roll-at-pisces-charlotte

Pisces is also well known for their cocktails and all-you-can-eat sushi lunch special. 


#6 Koishi

Vibe: Low-key neighborhood restaurant in an old Pizza Hut located in the heart of Cotswold.

What roll to order: Cherry Blossom ($10.95) — Tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, avocado in soy paper, with special sauce.

koishi-sushi-cotswold

Where else can you eat sushi in a former Pizza Hut?

cherry-blossom-roll-sushi-koishi-charlotte

Beautiful roll. Nice to have 10 pieces. 


#5 Bonsai Fusion

Vibe: Simple space inside of Uptown’s 7th Street Public Market.

What to order: Tuna Poke Bowl ($8 small/$14 large) – diced tuna and avocado, edamame, tossed in a ginger soy sauce with masago, shallots, green peppers and scallion served over rice and topped with finely cut scallions.

[Agenda story: Bonsai expands its trendy sushi menu with more sushi burritos and new poke bowls]

sushi-poke-bowls-at-bonsai-fusion-uptown

Poke is raw fish salad. It’s a traditional Hawaiian dish. And it’s freaking delicious. The Poke Bonsai menu includes Tuna Poke, Salmon Poke, Seafood Trio, Yellowtail Poke and Tofu Poke.

sushi-burrito-from-bonsai-sushi-charlotte

You also need to try Bonsai’s Sushi Burritos. What’s wrapped inside this gorgeous OG aka The Hulk sushi burrito tortilla? Spicy tuna, edamame hummus, spring mix, carrots, beets, cilantro, jalapeño, avocado and a little chipotle honey sauce.


#4 Ru San’s

Vibe: No-frills restaurant in Dilworth.

What to order: Firecracker Roll ($9.95) — Fresh tuna and salmon rolled with sushi rice. It’s flash-fried until crispy brown. The salmon is slightly cooked and the tuna remains rare. Served with a kimchi mayo sauce on the side.

[Agenda story: Ru San’s all-you-can-eat sushi lunch buffet is the IKEA of sushi and you’ll love it]

rusan's-firecracker-roll-charlotte-sushi

Firecracker Roll is delicious, but do to it’s size, it’s hard to eat each roll in one bite — and we all know chopping sushi rolls with chopsticks is social suicide.


#3 Cowfish

Vibe: Modern, clean design located near SouthPark mall. Excellent patio and lovely fish tank.

What to order: Mark’s Roll ($15) — Fresh tuna, jalapeño, cream cheese, kani, scallions inside, coated with panko and flash fried. Topped with Japanese mayo and sriracha. Served with ponzu dipping sauce.

mark's-roll-cowfish-charlotte-sushi

Cowfish’s most popular non-tradition roll? The All-American Bacon Double Cheeseburgooshi ($15) — Seasoned Certified Angus Beef, yellow cheddar cheese, white cheddar cheese, applewood bacon, and red onion, wrapped in soy paper and potato strings then flash fried. Topped with ketchup, mustard, dill pickle and Roma tomato. Served atop Cowfish sauce and comes with house seasoned fries.


#2 New Zealand Cafe

Vibe: Small, neighborhood restaurant in an unsexy shopping center off Sardis Road.

What to order: Rainbow Roll ($8.95)— California roll draped with tuna, salmon, white fish, shrimp and smelt roe.

new-zealand-cafe-sushi-bar

Inside New Zealand Cafe, you’ll find a small bar, high top tables and a few larger tables. When I visited at 4 p.m. on a weekday, I was shocked to find so many customers. 

rainbow-roll-at-new-zealand-sushi

In terms of value, I’d rank New Zealand #1. It’s melt in your mouth good with very reasonable prices. 


#1 O-Ku

Vibe: Modern, elegant interior space in South End’s Atherton Mill. It’s definitely the most upscale and beautiful of all our sushi restaurants.

What to order: Rainbow Roll ($14). Seafood wrapped, filled with snow crab, cucumber, avocado, masago, and shiso dust. Lime zest rainbow tobiko, spicy aioli, eel sauce, togarashi.

[Agenda story: You’re going to want to eat your way through O-Ku’s new spring menu, including a $25 roll]

o-ku-sushi-charlotte

O-Ku Sushi hit the ground running in Charlotte. The same restaurant management group owns Oak Steakhouse in SouthPark and has plans to open an Italian place in South End. Another popular O-Ku roll to try is their Potato Roll ($13) – tempura shrimp, avocado, kiwi, black tobiko.

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Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).