The 16 best sushi restaurants in Charlotte

The 16 best sushi restaurants in Charlotte
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Craving sushi? Here’s a list of Charlotte’s 16 best sushi restaurants and what to order at each.

People’s choice: In a recent survey sent to around 50,000 daily Agenda newsletter subscribers, our audience voted these as the best sushi restaurants in Charlotte: No. 1 O-Ku, No. 2 Ru San’s, No.3 New Zealand Café, No. 4 Cowfish, and No. 5 Yamazaru. O-Ku won by a landslide, doubling the votes of Ru San’s which came in second place.

Best sushi deals in Charlotte:

  • Ru San’s $12.50 all-you-can-eat sushi buffet
  • Sukoshi: Half off any remaining sushi in grab-and-go coolers from 5-7 p.m. daily
  • Rockin’ Rolls Sushi Express: All-you-can-eat conveyor-belt sushi for $12.99 at lunch and $16.99at dinner.
  • O-Ku: Half-price sushi rolls 5-7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays
  • Pisces: $12 all-you-can-eat sushi lunch special, every weekday Umami: $19.99 all-you-can-eat sushi
  • Mr. Tokyo: $12.99 all-you-can-eat sushi and hibachi at lunch and $18.99 at dinner
  • Akahana Asian Bistro: Buy one get one sushi rolls all day everyday
  • CO: Half-price sushi from 4:30-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Upstream: $24.95 all-you-can-eat sushi from 4:30-7 p.m. at the bar on Thursdays and $18 all-you-can-eat sushi lunch

Note: Charlotte best sushi restaurants are listed below in no specific order (this is not a ranking).


(1) O-Ku

Best overall sushi restaurant in Charlotte

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: Red Dragon Roll ($14) — tempura shrimp, avocado, spicy crab mix, eel sauce and crunch. Their other two most popular rolls are the Salmon & Lemon Roll and the Spicy Rainbow Roll.

Deal: Half-priced sushi from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday.

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red-dragon-sushi-roll-from-oku

O-Ku’s Red Dragon Roll

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O-Ku’s Salmon & Lemon Roll (left) and Rainbow Roll (right). 


(2) New Zealand Cafe

Most beloved sushi restaurant

Vibe: It used to be a hidden gem, but not anymore. This small restaurant is located in an unsexy shopping center off Sardis Road. Inside New Zealand Cafe, you’ll find a small bar, high top tables and a few larger tables. It’s often crowded, even during weird hours.

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

sushi at new zealand charlotte

sushi at new zealand in charlotte restaurant

sushi roll at new zealand cafe in charlotte


(3) Ru San’s

Best sushi buffet

Vibe: No-frills restaurant in Dilworth.

What to order: Fire Cracker Maki Roll ($9.25) — 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.

Deal: $12.50 all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. It’s popular, very popular.

rusan's-firecracker-roll-charlotte-sushi

Ru San’s Firecracker Roll


(4) Soul Gastrolounge

Coolest sushi restaurant

Vibe: Located in Plaza Midwood, Soul is one of the top overall restaurants in Charlotte and it’s got arguably the coolest vibe. Expect rotating DJs come on around 9 p.m. on weekends. It’s cozy inside, always busy, and also one of the best cocktail bars in Charlotte.

What to order: Dancing Tuna Roll – seared tuna and avocado topped with spicy tuna, jalapeño, tobiko, and finished with sriracha mayo and wasabi mayo ($14).

bar at soul gastrolounge in plaza midwood charlotte

lobster sushi at soul gastrolounge

My Maine Lobster Roll – tempura lobster, spicy tuna, salmon, avocado, finger lime and crab with spicy mayo and eel sauce ($17)

sushi roll at soul gastrolounge tuna charlotte

sushi in soul gastrolounge charlotte

Soul’s Dancing Tuna Roll


(5) Nikko

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

What to order: Dragon Roll ($15) — shrimp tempura rolled in rice; avocado, eel on top. Eel, shrimp tempura, cucumber, tuna avocado and spicy eel sauce.

nikko-red-dragon-sushi-roll-charlotte


(6) 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.

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.

mark's-roll-cowfish-charlotte-sushi


(7) Yamazaru Sushi & Sake

Vibe: Cozy, intimate spot with reasonable prices near Sycamore Brewing in South End

What to order: Hamachi Lover Roll ($14) – Negi hamachi with kimchi aioli, crunchy hamachi wrap, jalapeño, ikura and wasabi yuzu sauce. Other popular rolls include their Gladiator roll (shrimp tempura) and Yamazaru roll (crab salad, tuna and spicy baked eel). Wash it down with their Spicy Mule made with homemade ginger beer.

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Hamachi Lover roll at Yamazuru

sushi rolls ayamazaru in south end

tuna roll at yamazaru in charlotte


(8) Pisces

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

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

Deal: $11 all-you-can-eat sushi lunch special.

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


(9) 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


(10) Yama

Vibe: Casual and cozy spot near YAFO in SouthPark.

What to order: H&M Roll ($14) — tuna, avocado, topped with tuna, tempura flakes, masago, spring onions and spicy aioli.

yama-sushi-restaurant-in-southpark

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H&M Roll at Yama in SouthPark


(11) Sukoshi

Vibe: Fast-casual sushi restaurant in the heart of Uptown for the grab and go crowd.

What roll to order: Tuna “Wrap It Up” roll ($13) — big eye tuna, spicy tuna, cucumber, sweet soy and Sriracha aioli.

Sushi burrito order: “The Big Eye” ($15) which includes tuna, mano, asian pear, masao, seaweed salad, ika salad and wasabi soy.

Daily Deal: To get rid of the day’s sushi and keep everything fresh, Sukoshi offers 50 percent off any remaining sushi in their grab-and-go coolers from 5-7 p.m. daily.

space-at-sukoshi-charlotte

tuna-roll-sukoshi-charlotte

Tuna Wrap It Up roll at Sukoshi


(12) YUME Ramen & Sushi Bar

Vibe: Newly built spot in South End’s Gold District with a casual feel but commitment to quality (and the price points to match).

What to order: Sakura ($13) – flower shaped roll with salmon, tuna, avocado and tobiko.

Fun order: Sora Box Sushi (it’s literally box shaped) — tuna, ungagi and avocado.

Background: Husband-and-wife owners Tony Yum (chef) and Rosena Tong (manager) were both born in Hong Kong and ran a restaurant in San Francisco before moving to Charlotte.

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(13) Zukku Sushi

Vibe: This Tampa-based sushi spot has a stall inside Optimist Hall. It’s pricy, but the sushi delivers.

What to order: Lobster Volcano Roll — spicy tuna, asparagus, crab mix, avocados, perfectly tempura fried whole lobster tail tossed in spicy mayo, masago, green onions, sesame seeds, served with sweet eel sauce ($24.95).

lobster sushi roll at zukku sushi optimist hall charlotte

Zukku Sushi’s Lobster Volcano Roll


(14) CO

Background: This well designed modern Asian restaurant has 7 locations including two in Charlotte — Park Road Shopping Center and Waverly.

Rice-less roll: Fiji Salmon Roll — spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber, sweet ponzu, togarashi, green onion and micro greens (normally $14).

Must-order roll: Kung Fu Crunch Roll — salmon, avocado, cream cheese, scallions, topped with spicy tuna, unagi sauce, spicy aioli and tempura flakes (normally $13.50).

Deal: Half-price sushi from 4:30-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays

sushi-at-co-charlotte

CO’s Kung Fu Crunch Roll


(15) Koishi

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

What roll to order: Cherry Blossom — tempura shrimp, spicy tuna and avocado in soy paper, with special sauce ($11.95).

koishi-sushi-cotswold

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

cherry-blossom-roll-sushi-koishi-charlotte

Koishi’s Cherry Blossom roll


(16) Upstream

Vibe: Upstream is an upscale global restaurant in SouthPark’s Phillips Place shopping center.

Details: Snap, Crackle & Pop — spicy tuna, avocado, mango, rice crunch, eel sauce and spicy aioli.

Deal: $24.95 all-you-can-eat sushi from 4:30-7 p.m. at the bar on Thursdays and $18 all-you-can-eat sushi lunch.

dining-room-upstream-charlotte

sushi-from-upstream-charlotte

Upstream’s Snap, Crackle & Pop roll


Looking for more Charlotte food and drink guides? Here’s a complete list of Agenda guides including best burgers, best bars, best new restaurants, best weekly specials, best pizza, best cocktail bars, and best brunch.

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