Tokyo - Tsukiji: Daiwa Sushi
Uogashi Yokocho Chuo Ku, Tsukiji, 5-2-1, Tokyo 03-3547-6807 open 5:30 AM to 1 PM Closed on Sundays, National Holidays and second Wednesdays.
Tsukiji area is best of the best: Tsukiji is where Tokyo's fish market is located. All the dealing happens in the early mornings 4AM to 8AM.
The price of a sushi-grade Tuna in Tokyo: 20,000 yen per kilogram. Convert to dollars, it's not surprising to see how the price of a fish gets up into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Tokyo - Shibuya: Midori of Umeoka Sushi
4 shops around Tokyo 1-12-3 Dogenzaka (Mark City East, 4th Floor) 03-5459-0002
Among Tokyo's best is Midori of Umeoka Sushi, which usually has long lines but is worth the wait for its great prices, interesting side dishes (try the maguro pinta yaki, garlicky grilled tuna cheek), and smoke-free dining room.
Midori-zushi (Sushi) -- 5458-0002 -- Dogenzaka 1-12-3, Mark City East 4F
The newest branch of a famous sushi shop, popular for their high-quality fish and reasonable prices (Y3-5000 with a few drinks). Open 11am-10pm daily.
Bay Area: Toshi's Sushiya
11 E. El Camino Real, Menlo Park. (650) 326-TUNA
Toshi's niche is carved from high-quality, traditional Japanese food and beautiful presentation. Except for California rolls, diners looking for American-style sushi with clever names and all too many ingredients should look elsewhere.
The demure 36-seat El Camino Real storefront is easy to miss, next to its big, boisterous neighbor, the Oasis Beer Garden. But the good news when you do find it is twofold: ample parking in the back and a location that means you can avoid downtown Menlo Park traffic. Toshi's is just a few blocks north of Stanford Shopping Center.
Every morning, chef-owner Toshi Sakuma drives to IMP Foods in San Mateo to buy raw seafood from the area's premier wholesaler. He almost always gets toro, the fatty tuna belly that looks like salmon and tastes like butter. Customers have been known to order 10 pieces of toro on rice pads, or nigiri sushi. These cost $6 each.
A more rational way to sample this delicacy would be the negi toro roll ($8.50), six pieces of sticky rice and white-streaked tuna belly wrapped in nori, the strips of toasted green seaweed offering just a bite of resistance.
Toshi's other claim to fame: there is a famous sushi poster for which this Toshi created the displays.
San Francisco: Hamano Sushi
1332 Castro Street near 24th St. San Francisco, CA 94114 415-826-0825
Here is yet another Noe Valley restaurant that attracts people from outside the neighborhood. Dinner only. Also has a good collection of Japanese sake.
Recommended Dishes: Rainbow caterpillar roll. Although the enormous neo-California rolls are beautiful to look at, stick with the fresh, generous nigiri or sashimi. The rolls are a good bargain but too complex and filling. Don't pass up the great appetizers like the nasu dengaku eggplant -- the miso sauce resembles chocolate.
Honolulu: Yanagi Sushi
762 Kapiolani Blvd. Honolulu, HI 96814 808-597-1525
Typically crowded, and its practices merit the attention. Even celebrities visiting from Japan prefer Yanagi. Sushi is superb, and other authentic Japanese menu specialities can be had. The best on Oahu. Reservations strongly recommended.