Landlocked Utah with its arid desert climate isn’t the first state that springs to mind when I think of sushi, seafood, or Asian cuisine. Instead, I always think of border states, particularly on the southern and east coasts.
However, Salt Lake City made me reconsider. The city has some of the best Chinese and Japanese food I’ve ever eaten.
Salt Lake City is the largest metropolitan area in Utah and the Mormon capital of the United States.
18 W Market St, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Takashi, a restaurant named for the head chef Takashi Gibo, regularly gets hailed as the best sushi restaurant in the area. Takashi and its neighboring bar are on Market Street, just over half a mile from Temple Square with its gorgeous six-spired Mormon temple.
I recommend ordering a sashimi combo or a nigiri combo, so you can taste several delicious specialties at once.
I had to wait an hour for a table, but it was well worth it to taste some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. The restaurant is always busy, so plan on being there at least a couple of hours in total. Fortunately, you can enjoy drinks next door at Post Office Place while you wait.
722 S State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Sapa is a little over a mile from Temple Square.The restaurant has elegant decor and a high-end menu suitable for fine dining.
They rent the Vietnamese tea houses in the garden courtyard for private dining and events, and you dine outdoors to enjoy the distinctively Asian atmosphere.
The spicy tuna rolls and Umimasu were delicious. I suspected the food would be stellar because this is another restaurant where you should plan to wait a while for a table.
1080 E 1300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Kyoto has an extensive menu with a wide range of choices. I struggled to decide what to order from the dozens of options.
Most Asian restaurants have vegetarian and vegan rolls and other options, but Kyoto has more than most.
The Rainbow Roll had the freshest fish on top, and the salmon and yellowtail on the sashimi platter melted in my mouth.
An appetizer salad made with seaweed and squid made me wish a restaurant in my area served the same thing.
The restaurant was noisy and full, but the staff smiled and welcomed us in. Kyoto has a great atmosphere and some of the best sushi in Salt Lake City.
12 W Broadway, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Itto Sushi is a more casual dining experience than some others on this list. The staff work behind counters and wear baseball caps in some smaller locations.
The menu is a long list of everything you want at an Asian restaurant. They even list riceless rolls in a separate section of their menu.
I loved the rich Titanic Roll with its tempura shrimp and crab mixed with cream cheese, spicy mayo, and spicy eel sauce. The Cherry Blossom tasted light and elegant by comparison with only avocado, tuna, and salmon.
2910 Highland Dr., Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Sushi Groove is a fun and laid-back restaurant with $2.50 sushi specials and live music. Don’t miss this casual dining experience that offers some of the best sushi in Salt Lake City.
If you’re in the mood for specials on a chalkboard instead of a fancy and extensive menu, Sushi Groove is for you.
I loved the spicy tuna and tempura asparagus. Sushi lovers should look at the Hardcore Combo with a miso soup starter, sashimi, nigiri, and assorted pokki.
If rolls are more your style, skip the traditional rolls and choose the Groovy Rolls to enjoy something you won’t find elsewhere. My favorite was the Maui Wowi with barely seared tuna, crunchy tempura bits, avocado, and mango.
3947 S Wasatch Blvd, Millcreek, UT 84124
Kobe Japanese restaurant’s two locations are in strip malls, but once you’re inside, the atmosphere feels a little more traditional with servers in kimonos and appropriate decor. I enjoyed this casual dining restaurant with its long menu and lots of spicy options.
The Hell Fire roll combines spicy tuna, jalapeño, and a spicier sauce to top it off. I probably haven’t had a spicier roll than that before, but it was delicious.
My other favorite was a roll they call the Pink Flamingo, with tempura shrimp and crab wrapped with cucumber, avocado, and spicy aioli. The eel sauce and soy paper made this roll unique.
1980 W 3500 S, West Valley City, UT 84119
Fat Fish, located in West Valley City, is a Japanese and Vietnamese fusion with a fun atmosphere with its modern yet industrial design and painted murals.
I enjoyed the sashimi combo to sample three types of fish, all fresh and delicious, and the Firecracker Calamari with jalapeños and onions.
My favorite thing at Fat Fish, though, was hands-down the Pho. Nobody does Pho like a Vietnamese restaurant, and this was some of the best I’ve had.
The Pho Dac Biet contains brisket, tripe, and meatballs, and it smells and tastes like everything you want from Pho.
4546 S 815 W Suite 107, Taylorsville, UT 84123
The Executive Chef Ty Hoang crafts delicious Asian food that looks beautiful on the plate at Chopfuku. This restaurant offers fine dining dishes in a more casual atmosphere than you might expect. Make reservations before you go.
I loved the Angry Bird’s shrimp tempura and smoked salmon with cream cheese, avocado, tempura flakes, and sweet chili sauce.
The red snapper coated in panko crumbs on top of a California roll was something I tasted from a friend’s order and would order for myself next time I’m there.
488 East 100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Hamachi has a traditional sushi bar atmosphere with a new-age flair. The tonkatsu ramen was delicious, and they served some of the best sushi in Salt Lake City with their sashimi combo.
The yellowtail was particularly tasty, but you don’t get to choose the fish when you order any sushi combos. If you want one fish specifically, you have to order it alone.
The poke bowl with tuna, salmon, and yellowtail came with a bright, tangy citrus and sesame dressing that worked beautifully with the mango, cucumber, and avocado. This restaurant also offers bento and sushi lunch specials for a reasonable price.
165 S W Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
If you’ve been to any Benihana restaurant, you can expect the same experience as the one in downtown Salt Lake City. This chain restaurant’s hibachi grill dining experience is always fun if you’re seated with friendly people and your chef is on point.
One of my favorite things to order at Benihana is the Benihana Lemonade, and it was as fresh and delicious in Salt Lake as anywhere.
The pan-fried beef gyoza dumplings are always a great starter, and the sushi sampler will keep you from having to make difficult menu decisions.
If you’re in the mood for soup, skip the miso this time and go for Benihana’s classic onion soup that’s been a staple since 1964.
1166 E 2100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
If you love rolls, you’ll have to toss a coin to pick one or two at YellowFinn, because the menu is long and full of great Asian food.
Adventurous diners might try one that I enjoyed called the Magnum PI, named after the classic TV series. The roll has candied macadamia nuts that give it a unique taste.
The dessert menu offers more than standard mochi and ice cream, too. Don’t miss the delicious Tempura Banana served with whipped cream, caramel, and chocolate sauce on top of ice cream.
I also had too much fun ordering a spicy dish with a spicier name off their regular roll menu called a Screaming Orgasm. You’ll get pepper-seared tuna with garlic ponzu, green onions, and wasabi mayo.