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Top 5 Sushi Restaurants

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With sushi being one of my favorite go-to meals, naming favorites is not an easy task. There are so many things to take into consideration. Are you looking mainly at the freshness of the fish? What about the selection of makizushi? And what about the rice? I tried to take all of these things, along with atmosphere and overall dining experience, into consideration when picking my top 5 favorite sushi places.

5. Crave Sushi I will admit that Crave can sometimes be hit-or-miss. The deep-fried Philly Roll is an unnecessary variation on a classic. However, when they hit, they really hit. A New York sushi joint that puts a Flamin' Hot Cheeto Roll on an otherwise upscale menu has to make the list. I will happily go to Crave just for this roll, though I also enjoy some of their other more creative endeavors, such as the 4 am Roll with unagi, kiwi, strawberry, and a pomegranate glaze. And you have to love that they offer sushi until 4 a.m. on Saturdays.

4. Osaka Osaka is always a good choice when you're looking for a quality product at a decent price. It's one of my friends' favorites, and I love the freshness of everything they do. The Crunch Roll is amazing simply for the fact that the sushi roll remains cold despite all the crispy fried bits they pour on top. Osaka is laidback, pleasant and affordable. Plus you get a freebie at the beginning and delicious green tea ice cream for dessert.

3. Soma Sushi Soma was one of the first places in Houston that really did the trendy sushi thing well. The place is hip and glamorous with a good location, and on top of that the food is actually good. The rolls are top-notch, such as the famed Crazy Irishman, with shrimp tempura wrapped in crabstick with green onion, sesame oil and "soma sauce." The sashimi is also excellent, such as the decidedly decadent beni toro - fresh salmon belly. The selection is plentiful, and I have yet to be disappointed with any of my sushi choices.

2. Sushi Raku As stunningly chic as this place is, you might expect the food to suffer from over-attention to atmosphere. But that is so not the case. Pepper tuna is one of my favorite "test" dishes - something simple that I like to order to see how well a restaurant can prepare it. I have never been disappointed with the freshness and delicacy of Raku's version. I particularly enjoy it in a salad form with baby greens, sliced grapes, pumpkin seeds and crumbly goat cheese. Their daily special rolls are always exciting and help me avoid the pitfall of ordering the same thing every time. Plus the authentic fresh wasabi and tan pickled ginger are excellent accompaniments.

1. Kata Robata Executive Chef Manabu "Hori" Horiuchi has been making sushi since he was 18 years old, and you can taste this experience in every bite. Try the scallop with foie gras and you'll see what I mean. Soft, tender scallop mixes beautifully with rich, earthy foie gras for a uniquely decadent taste experience. Even fish-adverse diners can find sushi to love, such as the Pork Belly roll with avocado, egg, and jalapeno teriyaki sauce. The restaurant is modern and elegant, yet simultaneously casual and relaxed, service has yet to fail, and the prices are reasonable, especially considering the quality of the ingredients, which is evident in every bite.

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