For me, sushi wasn’t introduced seriously into my life until I began dating my boyfriend who comes from Japanese heritage. As a child, he spent his summers with his grandmother making sushi for lunch and exploring the wonderful flavors that can be rolled into a perfect circle of seaweed and rice. Since we began dating I have been to countless sushi restaurants in various zip codes and have also had my fair share of crafting my own rolls. Once I moved to Flagstaff three years ago, I was initially introduced to Karma, but since then have realized that Karma isn’t the only sushi place offered. So here I am, taking a day to indulge in the four main sushi joints Flagstaff has to offer.
The four places reviewed include Karma Sushi Bar Grill, Hiro’s Sushi Bar & Japanese Restaurant, Go Sushi and Teppan Fuji Restaurant. Once seated at each place, I ordered the same three rolls: Philadelphia, California and a Spicy Tuna Roll. Each spot was judged on construction (if the roll falls apart or not), flavor, size, pricings, wait time and the atmosphere.
Karma Sushi Bar Grill
Karma Sushi is what most would say is the No. 1 sushi joint in Flagstaff. Between its location, menu variety and the fact that it’s been named the Best of Flag’s Best Sushi since 2010, it’s no wonder why it’s Flagstaff favorite. However, I must say, when you remove the location, the venue is simply average. For starters, to eat at Karma you must utilize the pay to park system downtown. Although, I must admit Karma excels in the realm of happy hours. The location offers Happy Hour Monday through Saturday 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and all day on Sundays. They also offer a reverse happy hour Monday through Saturday 9 p.m. to close. All menu items range from $3.50 to $22 and there is a large variety of gluten free and vegan options.
In terms of the atmosphere, during the daytime, a large skylight located in the center of the restaurant gives a nice natural vibe. However, when the sun goes down the venue is dark and moody making it the perfect place for date night or for a low-key night with friends.
Moving into the actual meal, it took roughly 10 minutes for the rolls to make it to our table after ordering. The Philadelphia Roll came in at $8.50, the California at $5 and the Spicy Tuna at $7. Out of the three the Philadelphia was by far the best. In terms of composition, the delivery was clean and the only thing I noticed is that the rolls weren’t rolled very tightly, and they had a tendency to fall apart.
Overall, due to the wait time, the rolls themselves and the price point I would give Karma a score of a 6/10. The sushi wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing or the best I’ve ever had. It was simply average.
Hiro’s Sushi Bar & Japanese Restaurant
Now it’s time for the sushi joints that hide in Karma’s shadow, and first up is Hiro’s. This place is often overlooked as it is located within the University Plaza Shopping Center, however their sushi is quite tasty.
To start off, the atmosphere of this place is dark and intimate. The darker setting allows you to zone in on your meal completely and forget what time of day it is.
In terms of menu items, Hiro’s offers $1 off Sapporo Draft Sunday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. There are daily lunch specials ranging from $8 to $15 and all menu items range from $2.50 to $37. The restaurant has minimal gluten free and vegan options, but they do exist.
The meal itself took roughly 12 minutes to make its way back to the table after ordering. Out of the three rolls, I think the best was the California. In comparison to Karma, the California from Hiro’s is made with krab salad versus a larger piece of a krab stick. Both Spicy Tuna rolls from Karma and here lacked spice and in my opinion, the Philadelphia roll here was average.
The pricing of the rolls was by far the most expensive out of all sushi restaurants visited. The Philadelphia came in at $8, the California at $6 and the Spicy Tuna at $8. All in all, I give Hiro’s a 7/10. Although the pricing was higher than Karma, the construction of the rolls and the customer service is what gave this spot an upper hand of Flagstaff’s favorite.
Flagstaff’s newest addition to the sushi world — Go Sushi. This spot is definitely new, and it shows upon walking in. However, their food and customer service make up for the work in progress. Once the restaurant is complete, there is no doubt in my mind that this will be the best sushi spot in Flagstaff.
Due to the fact that this place has recently opened, happy hours and daily deals are absent, but I was informed they are a work in progress. The venue itself is bright as there in a surplus of natural light flooding in through the front windows. The walls are well decorated, and the place is overall bright and light.
Getting down to the meal, this restaurant was quick to deliver our meal coming in around 5 minutes for the wait time. However, I must admit — the wait time depends on the time of day. This location has a very limited amount of staff and the wait time is inconsistent due to the volume of customers, which is certainly something to work on.
The No. 1 difference between this location and all the other locations visited is the composition and ingredients within the rolls. The display per roll was elegant and well composed. The ingredients were a major standout at this location as the cucumber screamed “I’m fresh” with each crunchy bite and the Spicy Tuna Roll was indeed spicy — something both locations prior lacked. In terms of pricing, Go Sushi is right in the middle of Karma and Hiro’s. Menu items range from $2.50 to $18.50 with the California Roll cashed in at $5.95, the Philadelphia $8.50 and the Spicy Tuna was $6.95.
According to their server, the rice served here is gluten free but everything with krab contains gluten.
Due to the rolls themselves and the pricing, I rate Go Sushi with a 9/10. The only reason I don’t give them a 10/10 is because I do feel the restaurant should establish consistency in wait times as well as finish the renovations that come with creating a new business.
Teppan Fuji Restaurant
The place of dining the Kardashian and West team choose when they visited our tiny mountain town. Teppan Fuji was my last and final stop of the day. Before I can share with you my thoughts, I must share my favorite thing about this place that will surely blow your mind. From 11 a.m to 2:30 p.m. the restaurant offers all you can eat for $15.95 daily. That’s right, you can eat as much as you want for just under $16.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk atmosphere, pricing and food. The atmosphere of this place is similar to Hiro’s; it’s dark and intimate. Both this spot and Hiro’s have televisions for those who choose to enjoy them.
Outside of the all you can eat, the pricing of this restaurant ranges from $1.95 to $58.95. The bill at his spot came in the lowest — the Philadelphia is $5.99, the California $5.49 and the Spicy Tuna cashes in at $6.99. The rolls were also delivered in no time at all arriving at the table in just a little over 4 minutes.
It wasn’t until this spot that the Philadelphia Roll provided by Karma was overthrown. The Spicy Tuna here also came in as a close second to Go Sushi’s on the spice level. Therefore, due to how this sushi joint stacks up to the others, I feel it is 8/10 trailing very closely to Go Sushi.
All in all, I feel that each sushi place has something for everyone. Karma offers the largest variety of gluten free and vegan options. Hiro’s gives slightly better sushi in terms of quality but is on the pricier side. Teppan Fuji has a killer lunch deal and low prices. And finally, Go Sushi has flavor, décor and the friendliest staff.
In terms of the best place per roll, Go Sushi takes the gold for both the California and Spicy Tuna Roll while Teppan Fuji delivers the best Philadelphia Roll.