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Best Sushi

Sakura Teppan Steak & Sushi
6534 E. Tanque Verde Road

READERS' PICK: Sakura takes the sushi bar to new heights (bar-stool height, that is), with an atmosphere that's so congenial and casual, even first-timers won't feel intimidated. Over the past few years, Sakura has earned the unique designation of being Tucson's premiere "sushi sports bar," with fresh fish served up under the equally fresh big-screen TV. As the name implies, they also have plenty of flame-broiled fare for the less adventuresome.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Finding sushi in this town used to be about as easy as coaxing water from stones--but those days are long gone. It seems as though sushi joints are jumping all over town these days, and one of the newest and brightest kids on this block is Yuki Sushi & Japanese Restaurant, 7153 E. Tanque Verde Road, a small, modern restaurant located within a modest shopping center on Tucson's far east side. The royal red carpet is rolled out for each and every guest as soon as they enter the building, beginning with a shouted greeting in Japanese from the sushi chefs hard at work behind the counter. Seating at the sushi bar itself is limited, so if you're there at peak times, chances are you'll have to sit at a table and forego the pleasure of watching a master at work. A colorful and ocean-fresh sailing theme is demonstrated throughout the airy space, providing welcome distraction as you wait for your sushi to arrive tableside. Everything at Yuki's is done with a grand flourish, a fact particularly well-illustrated by the rather unusual wooden serving platter (shaped like a miniature Oriental schooner) which is able to hold a phenomenal amount of food. All the fish used at Yuki Sushi is tender and tastes fresh from the sea...so much so, that we can't recommend a single item at the exclusion of all the others. Our only advice is to watch the specials of the day for some of the freshest and most innovative sushi creations. Service is crisp and attentive, and the rest of the menu, which features traditional Japanese cuisine (sans raw fish), is extensive and fully tempting. Hone up on your chopstick skills and dive in!

CLUE IN: Tucked away in an old Broadway strip mall, Bunbuku Japanese Cuisine (4520 E. Broadway Blvd.) boasts a cozy ambiance, an array of Japanese noodle and cooked-meat dishes, reasonable prices, and generous portions of its fresh-catch sushi. The chef, known to his customers only as Jun, is a man who knows his fish; ask him what he's recommending that day, and he'll steer you to the best choice among delicacies like salmon, yellowtail, tuna and eel. Jun's specialty dishes, such as "dynamite" (a concoction of crab, salmon roe and other delicacies) and "yummy roll," reflect his passion. There's good reason for him to call his fit-for-four-eaters extravaganza "the love boat." Homesick Japanese students hang out here on Friday and Saturday nights to feast on the ocean's bounty, and sing karaoke in their native tongue; and after a sake or two, you may be inclined to belt out a rendition of "My Way" or "Rockin' Robin" your own bad self.

CLUE IN: Sushi-Cho Restaurant, 1830 E. Broadway Blvd., is a perennial favorite among UA students and long-time locals for its sheer value. Nowhere else in the city will you be able to stuff yourself with fresh sushi and sashimi without completely blowing out your bank account. Sushi-Cho serves up all the popular standards like yellowtail, spicy tuna, salmon, sea-eel, cucumber and California rolls, plus most of those veteran-only specialties like sea urchin and octopus. They also have an extensive menu of Japanese entrees, all of which are served in the same abundance as their sushi platters. A congenial staff and lively clientele make this a buzzing midtown spot for lunch or dinner.

Case History

1997 Winner: Sakura Teppan Steak & Sushi
1996 Winner: Sakura Teppan Steak & Sushi
1995 Winner: Sakura Teppan Steak & Sushi

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