Duluth was a late adopter to sushi. Although sumptuous vinegared rice rolls showed up as a special menu item at a few places around town in prior decades, it wasn’t until 2006 that Zen House opened on the city’s border, technically in Hermantown, and became the first consistent, daily sushi source. Zen House added a second location in Downtown Duluth in 2009, but Hanabi Japanese Cuisine opened at the start of 2010, immediately becoming Duluth’s sushi king. It’s also the best Asian restaurant in town, having garnered 36.6 percent of the vote in Perfect Duluth Day’s poll.
The employee-owned restaurant recruited staff from New York and the Twin Cities area, and quickly landed a shining reputation for sushi, fusion rolls and other seafood. There is no shortage of options, with 25 different specialty rolls on the menu – and you don’t have to stick with what’s on the menu.
Each dish is a visual work of art, in addition to being a tasty delight. Diners can sit at the sushi bar and watch the artistic process up close, from start to finish. There’s also a full bar with sake, shochu and Japanese beers.
Most of the dishes are on the spendy side, but a few lower-cost items dot the menu, such as the lunch combinations.
Honorable mentions for best Asian restaurant go to Pak’s Green Corner, which took 25.4 percent of the vote, and Taste of Saigon, which took 22.5 percent.
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