The Best Japanese Restaurants in São Paulo

Sushi, São Paulo | collectmoments/Flickr
Sushi, São Paulo | collectmoments/Flickr
Photo of Euan Marshall
3 June 2017

São Paulo is known for having the largest community of Japanese people outside of Japan itself, a result of a massive wave of immigration at the start of the 20th century. As such, Japanese cuisine is incredibly popular in the city, with many dishes making their way into São Paulo’s own culinary culture. São Paulo has an amazing selection of incredible Japanese restaurants, you just need to know where to look. Here’s a guide to some of the best spots the city has to offer.


Restaurant, Sushi, Japanese, $$$
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In the neighborhood of Paraíso, just south of Avenida Paulista, São Paulo’s main thoroughfare, we have the excellent Shin-Zushi, a wonderful sushi restaurant owned by renowned chef Ken Mizumoto. While most of the city’s traditional Japanese restaurants are fairly small, Shin-Zushi stands out for its comfortable, spacious, and beautifully decorated dining room. As the name suggests, Shin-Zushi is all about sushi. The menu does offer some hot dishes, but they only serve as a distraction from the main event. Speaking of the menu, it is entirely in Japanese, so you can either take a leap of faith, or order the sushi tasting menu. Look out for the heavenly otoro nigiri – nigiri sushi made with bluefin tuna belly that melts in the mouth.


Restaurant, Sushi, Japanese
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Seven blocks away from Shin-Zushi and tucked inside a small shopping gallery is the equally excellent Kan. Once again, while there are hot dishes on the menu, Kan is all about the sushi. There are only a handful of tables inside, so take a seat at the counter and watch the master chef, Egashira Keisuke, in action. Order the tasting menu, which includes 12 pieces of nigiri sushi (ordering a la carte can get quite expensive), and let Keisuke-san transport you to Japan. The highlight here is the uni nigiri (pictured), a light and creamy delicacy which is made from – promise not to freak out? – sea urchin gonads.

Izakaya Issa

Bar, Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, Japanese, $$$
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Izakaya Issa Restaurante in São Paulo
Izakaya Issa Restaurante in São Paulo | © Izakaya Issa

Technically, this does not belong on a list of the best Japanese restaurants in São Paulo, as Izakaya Issa, as the name suggests, is an izakaya, which is a type of informal Japanese sake bar. However, Issa more than deserves its place here as it serves some of the city’s best Japanese food. Located in the heart of Liberdade, São Paulo’s Asian neighborhood, Izakaya Issa has a cozy, traditional setting. There aren’t many tables, but providing you are not in a large group, it is recommended to sit at the bar and let the owner and chef Margarida Haraguchi take care of you. Be sure to order some takoyaki – delicious, made-to-order octopus balls which are truly to die for – or the tonkatsu, which is a deep-fried pork cutlet and classic Japanese comfort food. While you’re at it, try the shochu, a traditional Japanese spirit.

Jun Sakamoto

Restaurant, Sushi, Japanese, $$$
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Named after its Michelin-star chef owner, Jun Sakamoto is a truly unique gastronomical experience. But be warned: it comes at a price. Jun Sakamoto is one of São Paulo’s most exclusive restaurants, only serving a small number of customers each night, so book your visit well in advance. The restaurant is so exclusive that it has no sign, meaning the maître d’ will need to buzz you in after confirming your reservation. The restaurant itself is unsurprisingly small, yet cozy and intimate, with the whole experience feeling like Chef Sakamoto is inviting you into his very own dining room. Chef Sakamoto serves what is probably the best sushi in the city, but the high price tag means this one should probably be reserved for a special occasion.

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Restaurant, Sushi, Japanese, $$$
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While the other restaurants on this list invest in traditional techniques and decoration, Kinoshita stands apart by adding a fusion twist to classic sushi in a modern and elegant setting. Located in the neighborhood of Vila Nova Conceição, only a few blocks from Ibirapuera Park, Kinoshita is an excellent option for those looking for something a little different, while not compromising on quality. Head chef Tsuyoshi Murakami has become something of a celebrity in Brazil, and since 1978 he has been wowing customers with incredible dishes at Kinoshita. Order the tasting menu and keep an eye out for the delicious wagyu beef carpaccio.


Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, Sushi, Japanese, $$$
Map View

Situated in a charming and somewhat hidden semi-detached house in the leafy neighborhood of Jardins, Aizomê serves up delicious Japanese food with an exciting menu put together by award-winning head chef Telma Shiraishi. Everything that comes out of Aizomê’s kitchen carries a little piece of Chef Shiraishi’s personality, from delicate, rare ingredients to interesting flavor combinations. There is plenty of sushi and sashimi on offer, but it is the hot dishes that stand out here, particularly the delicious portobello mushroom tempura. The main dining room, where customers are seated with a privileged view of the kitchen, is fairly small, but there are a number of private dining rooms which can be reserved for larger groups.

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