Once an exotic delicacy, sushi can now be found everywhere from steakhouses to supermarkets. Among Long Island's hundreds of sushi purveyors, however, are 10 standouts that insist on the very freshest fish, and then elevate it with preparations ranging from reverent to creative.
Note: Most dishes mentioned are samples of the restaurants’ menus and may not be available at all times. Seasonal changes and dish substitutions are common.
Arata Sushi (18 Cold Spring Rd., Syosset): Jimmy Lian, a Nobu veteran, prepares colorful, flavorful sushi here, as well as inventive riffs on the Asian-fusion theme. Lian works like a diamond cutter for results that are pristine and precise. Recommended: omakase -- or the chef's choice of what's best from the market that day -- which may include sushi of diverting combinations such as white tuna with salsa verde and fluke with onion salsa. Also look for ceviche-packed fish tacos; the salmon "invincible sandwich;" maguro tuna "invictus;" shrimp shumai. Perennially packed, Arata's staff will subtly discourage lingerers. More info: 516-921-8154
The roasted peanut avocado roll, below, and Ume Shiso roll, above, are served at Arata Sushi in Syosset.
Ginza (45 Carmans Rd., Massapequa): Impeccable fish imported from Japan anchors the adventurous meals at Ginza, an opulent, imposing, ambitious spot where eye-catching presentation is the order of the day. The fatty and medium-fatty tuna are the top, but don't overlook Japanese snapper, called madai; baby yellowtail; horse mackerel; live orange clam; or toro tuna tartare. Give a nod to spirited sushi rolls that don't smother the stellar fish, but highlight it with just enough adornment. If you're feeling indulgent, the chef's selection is not to be missed. More info: 516-882-9688, ginzali.com
The Ginza sashimi and sushi platter features king salmon, yellow tail tuna, blue fin toro, live scallop, uni sea urchin, Alaska king crab, and a variety of sushi at Ginza in Massapequa.
Hana (14 Haven Ave., Port Washington): Sleek, handsome and behind a bamboo facade, Hana serves up splashily fresh seafood from both Japanese and local fish markets. The multicourse omakase is a showstopper, and chirashi, or scattered sushi on rice, is minimally adorned and gorgeously cut. The chefs source at least three kinds of mackerel: "Blue skin" horse mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and Japanese mackerel; they also slice amberjack, striped bass, and other raw fish to perfection. More warming plates include miso-braised black cod; pork buns; wagyu A5 rib-eye; and a succulent roasted lobster with garlic butter and risotto. More info: 516-883-4262, hanaportwashington.com
Crisp duck is served at Hana in Port Washington.
Koiso (540 Westbury Ave., Carle Place): Kyoko and Kikumatsu Mitsumori are the mom and pop who own this old-school Japanese restaurant, one that feels slightly caught in time. Kikumatsu buys much of his own hopping-fresh local fish in Freeport, then expertly slices it with knife skills honed over 40 years. He's not interested in creating complicated rolls, so your best bets here are the simplest: nigirizushi, sashimi, chirashi. Kyoko is responsible for the cooked menu, including huge homemade gyoza (folded in house, and fried on one side), ramen and donburi, or rice bowls. More info: 516-333-3434
Nasushigi, eggplant with ginger and scallion, served at Koiso in Carle Place.
Nikkei of Peru
Nikkei of Peru (55 Shore Rd., Port Washington): Hermanto and Lina Jong's rousing fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine pack Nikkei of Peru in both Port Washington and Oyster Bay almost every night. The Jongs both once worked in the Nobu empire, and some of Nikkei's 42 seats are at the sushi bar; wait for one for the full experience. Starters such as ceviche and flash-fried kale with Asian pear salsa pave the way to inventive raw fish. The "inspiration" menu pairs silky fish with toppings such as chimichurri and threads of crisp onion, and sashimi tacos come with tomatillo salsa. On the hot side, try the steamed monkfish liver with sweet miso sauce and caviar or braised short ribs with jalapeño salsa. (Other location at 94 South St., Oyster Bay.) More info: nikkeiofperu.com
Yellow tail sashimi with jalapeno served at Nikkei of Peru in Oyster Bay.
Taka Sushi (821 Carman Ave., Westbury): Taka Yamaguchi offers a lesson in sushi at the bar, where the coveted seats in his namesake restaurant are located. There's no fussiness, no over-orchestration, no out-of-sync flavors in this modest, strip-mall setting. You immediately know why you're here. The chef's choice of sushi is seasonal and whimsical, and his selections might include Spanish mackerel capped with scallion and ginger, marinated mackerel, yellowtail sushi with shiso leaf, fatty tuna, the sweet shrimp called ebi, or rich, pungent uni. More info: 516-876-0033
The White Dragon roll with yellowtail, avocado, and wasabi jalapeno sauce, served at Taka Sushi in Westbury.
Shoshaku (68 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck): Inside this jewel box of a Japanese bistro, raw fish is only one facet of a menu that plumbs many corners, from noodles to hot and chilled snacks known as izakaya, as well as thoughtfully chosen sakes. Really fresh nigiri sushi and sashimi are the main draw, though, even if there are no seats at the sushi bar. Unusual cuts flown in once per week, and listed on a chalkboard, might include ira, a rich, chewy tuskfish, or itoyori dai, a buttery sea bream. The $68 omakase platter delivers heaps of briny goodies, from custardlike uni to velvety mackerel and a giant fried prawn head whose insides you should absolutely scoop out. If you tire of sea creatures, segue to creamy mentai udon, slathered in butter and mayo and laced with cod roe (mentaiku), a comfort-food daydream made real. More info: 516-780-0677, shoshaku.com
Misty beef at Shoshaku in Great Neck.
Tiga (43A Main St., Port Washington): You'd think that Port Washington didn't need another sushi bar (three of the town's best, Hana, Nikkei of Peru and Yamaguchi, are already on this list) but Tiga has been mobbed since Day One. Credit cult sushi chefs Roy Kurniawan and Dhani Diastika, formerly of Sea Cliff's late, lamented Musu, who ply their trade in this chic, bustling storefront. The East-meets-West menu features Scottish salmon with truffle vinaigrette, cold-smoked tuna tartare with yuzu zest and fluke carpaccio with chili paste. Rolls are similarly inventive and, on occasion, get caramelized with a torch. More info: 516-918-9993, tigany.com
The soy cured salmon at Tiga in Port Washington.
Torigo Japanese Restaurant
Torigo Japanese Restaurant (196 Jericho Tpke., Floral Park): Torigo feels like a romantic Japanese bistro, and chef-owner Tony San is almost fanatical about sourcing super-fresh fish for sushi, posting glamour shots of raw fish on his Facebook page. Four kinds of uni, multiple types of mackerel and all of the usual fish suspects -- from salmon to sea bream -- adorn the sushi menu, which is written on a chalkboard behind the sushi bar. Ease your way there with Torigo's excellent hot or barely seared snacks, such as isomaki fry -- fluke and slivered scallions rolled into seaweed, battered and then lightly fried. It's akin to a tempura sushi roll, but much more delicate. More info: 516-352-1116, torigorestaurant.com
At Torigo in Floral Park, they serve a play on the Japanese sweet called monaka. It features salmon roe and uni (sea urchin) sandwiched between two crisp wafers.
Yamaguchi (49 Main St., Port Washington): For more than 30 years, owners Akira and Yasuko Yamaguchi have been serving sushi that is focused and unadorned, and have attracted a devoted following accordingly. Their creations delight purists seeking simplicity and clarity, whether precisely cut fatty tuna, maguro tuna, yellowtail, mackerel and scallops, and just about any sushi or sashimi your host or hostess suggests. The fluke usuzukuri, squid with cod roe, and salmon roe with grated yam are also standouts, and if you've ever hankered for lobster katsu, then you've found your place. More info: 516-883-3500, restaurantyamaguchi.com
Dubin mushi soup with mushrooms is served in a teapot at Yamaguchi in Port Washington.