Kansas City has great food. The top dogs in the restaurant scene are obvious — the barbecue joints and the steakhouses serving KC strips. Then there’s the Italian restaurants dotting the map and Mexican spots as far as the eye can see. But there’s another type of food in Kansas City on the come-up: KC sushi.
Sushi is a healthy option exploding with unique flavor. It can be vegetarian and vegan friendly. It’s relatively cheap and quick, but it’s still prepared with quality. All of these factors combined have made KC sushi a popular new choice for a bite to eat, especially for some of the younger demographics in Kansas City.
If you’re a connoisseur of sushi in Kansas City, then you may already know where to go. But for the KC sushi newbies, we’ve created this guide to help you find some of the best sushi restaurants in Kansas City.
What is Sushi?
Everyone has a general idea of sushi. It’s raw fish, wrapped in some seaweed, and there’s some rice in it too. But sushi is actually much more than this, and its origin story shows the effort and ingenuity of sushi’s creators.
As with many great foods, the origins of sushi are mysterious and disputed. It is often associated with Japan, and the Japanese do lay claim to it. There is even a Japanese folklore story about the woman who first invented sushi, and the spread of sushi to other parts of the world almost certainly came from Japan. However, the oldest mention of sushi (or something like it) in an Asian culture can be found in a Chinese manuscript dating back to the fourth century.
In either story, as is the case with so many of our greatest foods, sushi was discovered by people living in poverty who were pushed to find creative ways of preparing and preserving food. The sushi roll accomplishes both purposes. The general structure of the roll — cooked rice wrapped in seaweed with raw seafood in the middle — causes the fish to undergo a fermentation process that adds both flavor and preservative power.
The first iterations of sushi were simple. Sushi menus have become more creative as the years have passed, and it has grown into a popular dish all over the world. You can find some of these delicious recipes at sushi restaurants in Kansas City.
How Did Sushi in Kansas City Become Popular?
The world outside of Japan didn’t experience sushi until the 1970s. The two main reasons for this: worldwide shipping and refrigeration. Once we figured out how to send fish across the oceans without allowing them to spoil, it was game-on for a sushi boom.
The first American sushi restaurants were in Los Angeles. After that, they popped up in New York and Chicago. Eventually, sometime in the late 1900s, sushi restaurants in Kansas City began serving adventurous Midwesterners.
KC Sushi Restaurants
Where you can find sushi restaurants near me in Kansas City today? You have several choices.
- KC Sushi: Looking for all-you-can-eat sushi in Kansas City? Head to KC Sushi in the northland and load up your plate to your heart’s desire.
- Oishi Japanese Cuisine & Bar: Oishi is on the Kansas side of the metro area at the corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Quivira Road. The bar serves tuna, salmon and California sushi rolls.
- Sushi Mido: Staying in Kansas, Sushi Mido is a great place to grab cheap sushi in Kansas City.
- Sushi Uni: This KC sushi restaurant has an expansive menu with great options for sushi experts and beginners.
- Prime Sushi Bar: Head to this south Plaza dining spot for an upscale experience and a great sushi happy hour in KC.
- Sakae Sushi: This is a local sushi spot in Parkville that serves up creative, delicious dishes.
- Drunken Fish: Need late-night sushi? Drunken Fish is open until 1:30 am on Friday and Saturday in the heart of the Power and Light District.
- Blue Sushi Sake Grill: Blue’s menu features sushi, sashimi, nigari, and Japanese-inspired entrees with gluten-free and vegan options.
- Friends Sushi & Bento Place: Friends Sushi’s diverse menu brings fresh dishes to Kansas City’s 39th street.
- Ra Sushi Bar Restaurant: Ra serves its signature rolls and Japanese cuisine alongside cocktails and live music.
What to Order at Sushi Restaurants in Kansas City
Sushi is a new and adventurous meal for a lot of people, and it’s the go-to dish for others. We’re going to break down dishes to try at sushi places in Kansas City by level of experience. Pick the one that best describes you and give it a try.
This is My First Time: The California Roll
The California roll is a classic that you can find on any KC sushi menu. It’s made of imitation crab, avocado and cucumber, wrapped in rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It’s the prefect on-ramp to sushi, especially if you’re not quite ready to try raw sushi in Kansas City, and it’s delicious.
I’ve Been Here Before: The Spider Roll
Up the ante on the traditional California roll with a spider roll. This sushi wrap is made with crab, avocado, cucumber and spicy mayo. It’s got a delicious kick to it, and you can find it at most Kansas City sushi restaurants.
I’m a Sushi Expert: The Dragon Roll
Ready to try some eel? This sushi roll is made with eel, crab, avocado, cucumber and eel sauce. The crab, avocado and cucumber are wrapped inside the rice, and the charred eel is placed on the outside of the rice. This is going to be a unique, hopefully delicious adventure for you.
It’s okay to start with the simple rolls and work your way up, or even to stay with the simple rolls as you keep coming back to KC sushi spots. There’s plenty of sushi to enjoy, so get out there and give it a try.