Japan and New Orleans have a long history. Beginning in the 1890s, Japanese entrepreneurs became involved with Louisiana's cotton and rice industries. After a few decades of doing business, Japan opened a consulate in New Orleans in 1922, and the Japan Society of New Orleans was founded in 1928. Soon enough, Japanese culinary traditions became a part of the unique gumbo pot of flavors that make up New Orleans food.
There are so many enticing Japanese restaurants in and around New Orleans today. From strictly traditional to modern twists, these Japanese restaurants are just the best in town just for having a casual dinner or to celebrate International Sushi Day.
The Best Japanese Food In New Orleans
1. Yakuza House
2740 Severn Avenue, Metairie, https://yakuzahouse.com
Yakuza House specializes in handrolls, but don't let that stop you from missing out on the rest of their menu. They're Donburi bowls with options like pork katsu and karaage are excellent. They also offer noodles like their mushroom udon carbonara, bao buns, Japanese sandwiches, gyoza, and more.
The sushi menu has a long list of sashimi and nigiri to choose from. The offer temaki sets with a range of options from nibbling portions to "hangry" portions. These classic and creative Japanese dishes will have you coming back again and again.
2. Rock N' Sake
Multiple Locations, facebook.com/rocknsakenola, rocknsake.com
Rock N' Sake has two locations in the greater New Orleans area, but they are no longer connected. The original Rock N' Sake location (823 Fulton St.) was opened in 1998 by Tanya Hailey and Duke Nelson who still own the high-end, much-beloved sushi restaurant. The Metairie location (2913 Metairie Rd.) was sold by Hailey and Nelson a few years ago so that they could focus more on the NOLA location and other pursuits.
Whichever location you go to, you are guaranteed to have something delicious and fresh. In NOLA, enjoy the Snap Foie Gras (red snapper topped with seared foie gras finished in a honey truffle sauce). In Metairie, take a seat on the cute patio to dine on a Purple Ninja Roll with tuna, salmon, snowcrab, avocado, cucumbers, tomato, purple pickled onions, smoked sea salt, ginger-infused soy sauce.
3301 S Carrollton Ave. (504) 488-1881, mikimotosushi.com
It may not have a huge dining room, but Mikimoto is often packed with diners who swear that this is the best sushi in the entire city. The sushi and sashimi offerings are the popular items, but the appetizers, soups, rice dishes, and even desserts all have excellent qualities. It's no wonder Mikimoto has been in service since 1999.
The One-Course Dinner options actually have several additions. The Beef Teriyaki comes with soup, house salad, and pan-fried or white rice. The sushi rolls are divine! Try the signature South Carrolton Roll: tuna tataki, avocado, green onion seaweed and rice roll with wasabi roe, chili pepper, and snow crab on top.
2325 Veterans Memorial Blvd. (504) 833-7477
Shogun has been a staple of Metairie's multicultural food scene since opening in 1982. The unassuming restaurant with the signature blue roof is popular with families celebrating something big. They love to gather around the entertaining hibachi grill tables to get dinner and a show. But hibachi is not all that Shogun has to offer. This menu is massive and has something for everyone.
Shogun has some of the freshest sushi in the area. It's especially nice when you get it alongside other house specialties as part of the sushi dinner combinations. Take for example the Sashimi and Tempura Dinner that includes soup, salad, fruit, steamed rice, assorted sashimi and shrimp tempura.
5. Kyoto II
5608 Citrus Blvd. (504) 818-0228, facebook.com/Kyoto2Nola
This wonderful restaurant is tucked into a strip mall in Elmwood, and it has amazing, authentic Japanese food that is hard to find elsewhere. The regulars love the lunch specials because they are great deals. From Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., you can select from a wide variety of specials like Chicken Teriyaki Bento and Sashimi Lunch at low prices.
For dinner, check out the Chef's Creations. You'll find delicacies including the Funky Margarita Roll with your choice of crawfish or spicy tuna wrapped with tuna, fresh salmon, and a guacamole topping and the Ankimo Exotic with steamed fish pate topped with ponzu and smelt roe.
5130 Freret St. (504) 899-6532, origaminola.com
Origami is popular with the college crowd and young families who enjoy the excellent prices and long list of options for sushi, vegetable-only sushi, soups, and small plates. The sushi rolls range from traditional to innovative. You're probably familiar with a Spicy Tuni Maki roll, but have you ever heard of the Godzilla Our Way? It's a deep-fried roll with cream cheese, avocado, shrimp tempura, snowcrab, crunchy avocado, and spicy mayo.
The veggie rolls are perfect for those who don't like fish. Try the Green Dragon Roll with seaweed, cucumber, asparagus, avocado, and sesame seeds. You'll want to try a Mochi of the Day for dessert.
601 Poydras St. (504) 608-3474, neworleans.servingsushi.com
Tsunami Sushi is an award winning restaurant. Its location in the heart of the CBD makes it a popular stop for lunch for workers in the area. The lunch specials are served quickly and give you a lot of food for a great price. When you come back for dinner, you'll want to start off with some small plates to whet your appetite. The Pork Tonkatsu, Thai Spaghetti, and Baked Salmon are excellent choices.
The specialty dishes are truly a sight to behold. The Sunflower is a dish made with sashimi slices of seared tuna drizzled in spicy ponzu sauce with tobiko, masago, scallions, and a quail egg which is arranged to resemble, you guessed it, a sunflower!
8. Sake Café
Multiple Locations, sakecafeonmagazine.com
Sake Café has spread out around town to serve all of those who love the sushi and the atmosphere that Sake Café provides: Metairie (4201 Veterans Memorial Blvd.), Elmwood (1130 S Clearview Pkwy.), and New Orleans (2830 Magazine St.). And the extensive list of signature cocktails isn't half bad either! You can get great deals om those cocktails, appetizers, and traditional sushi rolls during the daily happy hour from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sake Café does not shy away from infusing Japanese dishes with multicultural flavors. The Tropical Salmon small plate is fresh salmon with banana garnished with sesame seeds, onion, red pepper, and tropical sauce.
9. LUVI Restaurant
5236 Tchoupitoulas St. (504) 605-3340, luvirestaurant.com
LUVI serves an interesting mix of Japanese/American fusion dishes during dinner hours out of a cute former house on Tchoupitoulas Street. From raw bites to fried favorites, this menu has items that you've definitely never heard of. There are even a few vegan options like the Panfried Vegan Lover Dumplings with bok choy, mushrooms, and green bean noodles.
Those who are ready for an adventure will want to choose the Feed Me. It's a selection of Chef Hao's three favorite raw dishes of the night. Otherwise start off with the Homemade Miso Soup and Crawfish Wontons then order the Bam Bam Chicken in sweet chili sauce.
10. Ajun Cajun
8433 Oak St. (504) 866-7077, ajuncajun.com
The chef at Ajun Cajun just couldn't help but infuse his traditional Japanese fare with some Cajun spice. The poboys and plates are a perfect example of this Asian/Cajun marriage. The poboys are served on Dong Phuong French bread. Try the Yakiniku PoBoy with thin-sliced ribeye beef and onion sauteed in garlic sauce.
The steaming bowls of ramen are another popular choice for the diners. Tonkotsu is served with chashu braised pork, bok choy, bamboo shoots, green onion, and seaweed, and it pairs amazingly with a side of Cajun Fries with Pink Sauce.
Where To Get Japanese Food In New Orleans
Sushi and ramen, teriyaki and sashimi, these Japanese restaurants of New Orleans are the best of the best. Even if you choose not to indulge in meat, you can find so many vegetarian and vegan options now, all retaining the excellent flavor that makes Japanese food so craveable. The history of Japanese Americans in Louisiana is something to be proud of, and these restaurants are the continuation of their story.
If you can't go out to one of these great restaurants, you can make your own Japanese dinner at home using ingredients from one of the Asian markets in town. Did we miss your favorite Japanese restaurant? Let us know where we should go!