Japan reopened its borders late last year, welcoming visitors to the East Asian island who rave about its culture and hospitality. Of course, the food, which spans much further than raw fish, is considered one of the best cuisines in the world.
In 2017, the Morning News wrote about the history of Japanese food in Dallas. One of the first Japanese restaurants, according to the paper, was Royal Tokyo on North Greenville Avenue in 1973. But one of the biggest pioneers of Japanese cuisine in Dallas is Teiichi “Teach” Sakurai, a Japanese-born chef who worked at Royal Tokyo for four years and introduced Dallasites to raw fish and soba noodles. He opened Teppo Yakitori and Sushi Bar in 1995, Tei Tei Robata Bar in 1998, and Tei-An in 2008. He sold Teppo and Tei Tei Robata in 2001.
Now you can find ramen, sushi, sashimi, soba noodles, and bento boxes in almost every nook and cranny of North Texas. Markets, too, are sprinkled throughout for inspired home chefs. For those who want a taste of Japan, here’s our alphabetical list of the best restaurants to check out.
The downtown Plano bistro is known for bento boxes and pressed sushi, but its menu also spans sushi, sashimi, and grilled meats. In 2022 it won a recognition from the James Beard Awards, evidence that its Japanese offerings easily competes with any other in Dallas.
1007 East 15th St., Plano.
Slurpy egg noodles and hot broth is the specialty at Ichigoh, a ramen spot that was formerly Tanoshii. Whether it’s the milky paitan broth topped with scallions, menma, and a spritz of yuzu juice, or the soup-less ramen bowls, each is hearty and warms you up.
2724 Commerce St.
For years, Mr Max has been North Texas’ essential izakaya, serving grilled chicken, crisp takoyaki, and cheap mugs of Japanese beer. If you want to sit at some tables you will need to slip off your shoes. Reservations, by phone only, are a very good idea.
3028 N. Belt Line Rd., Irving
The tiny sushi bar in the West Village serves handrolls filled with cuts of fresh fish wrapped in delicate seaweed. Every Wednesday there are two omakase seatings that feature a menu of small plates and seasonal seafood and vegetables.
3699 McKinney Ave., Ste. 305.
A meal here proceeds in two phases: first, the kitchen will cook a series of delightful appetizers. Then you’re in charge. This is a yakiniku experience, with a grill at the center of your table and top-quality meats on the way.
2939 Main St.
You’ll find a stunning omakase menu at Shoyo in Lower Greenville, thanks to Nobu alums Jimmy Park and master chef Shin Kondo. The tasting menu is unexpected, experimental, and unlike any other Japanese cuisine in Dallas. Also: Park swears that his menu has improved significantly since last year.
1916 Greenville Ave.
Far North Dallas’ best-kept secret is this little spot, where the regulars are in little hurry to tell the rest of Dallas just how good Sushi Robata is. Sushi Robata serves a little bit of everything—sushi, ramen, grilled items, dumplings—but it is all good, across the board. Not all generalists are this accomplished.
4727 Frankford Rd., Ste. 313
When Tatsu Dallas joined the dining scene, it quickly became one of the city’s most desired reservations, and for good measure. Chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi’s sushi bar inside the Continental Gin Building is a serene space with only 10 seats for omakase. One experience could be more than 18 courses of carefully sliced fish, perfectly cooked rice, and traditional Japanese hospitality.
3309 Elm St., Ste. 120.
Sakurai’s Japanese influence lives on in Tei-An, one of the best restaurants in Dallas and the country. Established as a soba noodle house in 2008, the restaurant in One Arts Plaza also serves omakase and daily seafood specials.
1722 Routh St.
Another consistent 50 Best winner, this legacy restaurant from Sakurai has been serving delicious Japanese-style grilled meats since 1998. Other menu items include fresh octopus and smelt, along with daily specials that include sushi samplers and more.
2906 N. Henderson Ave.
Yutaka Yamato presides over this Uptown sushi counter. You can build a whole meal just off the card of specials, but the simple, elegant rolls are winners too.
2633 McKinney Ave., Ste. 140