Finding a decent Japanese restaurant in Rome can often prove challenging. However, if you happen to be in the Monti area, there's a cute restaurant a lovely garden in the back which makes dining al fresco during Rome's balmy summer months fantastico! When you walk into the restaurant, you might be thrown off by the fact that it appears that you've stepped foot in what seems like a Japanese cultural center. While that's partially true (the store has a little bookshop and art gallery), there's also a lovely restaurant where you can feast your eyes and your stomachs on some mouther-watering sushi, sashimi, tempura, udon and other cooked dishes. BUS: 40, 64. METRO: Repubblica, Cavour.
Local Expert tip: The restaurant's chef, Endō Kazuhiko has appeared various times on Italy's famous cooking channel Gambero Rosso.
Makoto Ristorante Giapponese is a sushi restaurant that has captured the hearts of budget concious locals looking to enjoy the savory cuisine without breaking the bank. What makes Makoto so special aside from the sushi being good, is that it's among the first to allow diners to eat as much as they want for one flat fee. That's right. You won't be forced to count your Makis and Temakis here worrying about the bill. You can order and eat as much as you want as long as you wat everything on your plate. We're not talking buffet style either. Everything at Makoto is fresh and made to order on the spot. Lunch costs 15 euro and dinner will set you back 19 euro excluding drinks and dessert. BUS: 492, 309. METRO: Tiburtina
Local Expert tip: Make sure not to leave an extra food or scraps on your plate, as an added surcharge will be tacked onto your bill if you do.
When it comes to international food, Rome is still trailing behind its big and bold metropolitan sister-cities in Europe, like Milan, London and Paris. As with all things in Rome, the city needs a little extra time to make way for change. But that's not to say that finding foreign food in the Ancient City is absolutely obsolete. Over the last few years, Sushi and Japanese food has been welcomed with open arms by Romans, making the cuisine trendissimo. Indeed, little by little sushi restaurants around Rome are sprouting up like mushrooms. A Roman favorite is Daruma sushi, a chain of take-away sushi shops and dine-in restaurants. There are currently 4 dine-in take-away sushi shops and 3 restaurants in the EUR, Piazza Bologna and Prati neighborhoods. The newest shop to join the family of Daruma restaurants, which opened in December is located right in the heart of Centro Storico at Piazza Parlamento, a prime spot for politics. Who knows? Maybe we'll be seeing Mr. Berlusconi there some day.
Local Expert tip: You can place your order directly from their website or even call for delivery.
Ginza Gold is a hip, modern sushi restaurant located near Piazza Barberini. The decor inside is chic with sleek black wood and stone paneling, and gold and red accents throughout the restaurant. Ginza is both a sushi and Japanese restaurant. Therefore, there's wide array of dishes made on the grill in case your party has some non-sushi eaters. Ginza attracts a long list of Italian celebs and starlettes. The restaurant is very elegant and is the perfect setting for a romantic dinner or a special occasion. The restaurant also does take-out, private dinner parties with your very own personal sushi chef and cooking lessons.
Ristorante Giapponese Rokko is one of the few sushi restaurants around Rome actually run by Japanese owners. In 1991, Hiroko Sasaki and her husband Toru, opened the Japanese restaurant Rokko in the heart of the centro storico. Since its opening, the restaurant has changed locations a few times thanks to its increasing popularity which enabled it to move to a larger location with more ample space. Its kitchen is run by the famed Japanese chef Takehisa Haraguchi who mastered his sushi skills from the prestigious culinary school Tsujigakuen in the city of Osaka. The sushi, sashimi, tempura and the gyokaino salad are all good here. METRO: Popolo, Spagna
Local Expert tip: The Rokko Restaurant also makes its own signature Japanese rice which can be purchased in several stores around Rome including gourmet food store, Castroni's.
The Monti neighborhood is a haven for great ethnic eateries and plain ol' good food. Among the amazing restaurants located in this area is the famous sushi and seafood restaurant F.I.S.H. (Fine International Seafood House). While this restaurant isn't Japanese or a 'sushi' restaurant per se, F.I.S.H definitely serves up an excellent sushi and sashimi appetizers along with an array of delicious seafood pastas and crudi (raw seafood). The restaurant is a mix of Mediterranean and fusion flavors. Though, it's a bit pricier than most, but the quality of its fish definitely makes it worth while. Try an assortment of their seafood dishes such as fish carpaccio, scallop, tuna tartar, shrimp, and wash it down with some aromatic and fruitful white wine, Gewürztraminer and you're set.
Local Expert tip: The raw oysters are also a must try here.
Just a hop, skip and a jump from the Pope's house and Vatican City is a trendy little sushi restaurant called Zen. Like Hamasei, Zen has both table seating if you come with friends or if you choose to dine alone, you can sit at the bar near the sushi chefs. Zen was the first sushi restaurant in Rome with a conveyor belt where diners can pick and choose their rolls, sashimi or other goodies as fast as the sushi chef puts it out there. Zen is definitely one of the top notch sushi restaurants around town which means you will pay a pretty penny here. It's a well heeled crowd here and a bit hoity toity. While the portions aren't as big here, rest assured that all of its plates are full of flavor. METRO: Ottaviano. BUS: 81, 492.
Local Expert tip: The restaurant also puts on special events and often displays original contemporary and Japanese pop art on its walls.
Located in the heart of the characteristic neighborhood Monti just a stone's throw away from the Colosseum, is a small Japanese restaurant called Hasekura that's popular with Italian celebrities and Japanese expats. Hasekura is just one of the many ethnic eateries tucked away in this lovely neighborhood. The restaurant is run by an italo-japanese couple. The interior of this restaurant is nothing to brag about but the restaurant's loyal customers care more about its good tempura, sushi and sashimi. Its chef, Ito Kimiji from Northern Japan (Akita) makes sure his customers palates are always pleased. METRO: Cavour. BUS: 40, 64.
Local Expert tip: The miso soup with clams and seaweed is a must try.
Hamasei is one of the best known sushi restaurants in Rome as it was one of the first to open in the Eternal City. This fru-fru restaurant opened up in 1974 in Rome and has a long standing clientele of italiani per bene (affluent Italians) thanks to its prime position just near the Spanish Steps. The restaurant is typical of most sushi restaurants back in the States where one can eat near the sushi chef and watch him as he prepares your roll fresh. Its decor is sleek and modern. For a characteristic Japanese tearoom type of atmosphere, one can reserve their private room with such decor at an additional cost. Sushi, Sashimi, Tamaki and Tempura are all delicious here. So good, that it earned its way into the Michelin Dining Guide. Though beware, portions here can be decidedly smaller here. METRO: Spagna, Barberini. BUS: 53, 52, 492, 80.
Local Expert tip: The lunch menus are a better bargain here and give you more bang for your buck.
If you're not on the hunt for good sushi, you may not hav any reason to come to this neighborhood. Albeit, Genkai sushi and japanese restaurant is a bit of a schlep from the city's main attractions. But if you're really over all of the pizza and pasta and jonsing some good sushi, then traveling half way across Rome is certainly worth it. It's one of the best around town. The restaurant like most of the Japanese restaurants in Rome are run by Chinese and Korean owners. However, the sushi chefs are professionally trained in Japanese cuisine and certainly know how to make a good roll. The restaurant is big with lots of seating. Though, don't be fooled, it does get jam packed over the weekends. The seating in the back of the restaurant resembles a characteristic Japanese tea room with sliding panel doors to close you and your party in a private booth. When dining here, one must absolutely try: Sake Tataki Salmone, Genkai Special Sake (a salmon roll with cucumber, avocado and salmon eggs on top), Genkai Special Avocado and the Sake Salmone (a Spicy Salmon roll cooked in the oven). BUS: 93, 63, 38, 80 METRO: Conca d'Oro.
Local Expert tip: For dessert, definitely try the gelato alla piastra con frutta (gelato thrown on the grill with fruit).