Home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, São Paulo’s Liberdade neighborhood has an abundance of restaurants for the avid sushi lover. Although there are many restaurants serving sushi throughout São Paulo, here is where you’ll find the oldest establishments serving to the Japanese community as well as visitors alike. We have picked five restaurants worth checking out when in the Liberdade neighborhood.
Bar, Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, Japanese, $$$
Very popular among the Japanese community, the Izakaya Issa has also become very popular with those learning to appreciate Japanese cuisine. Their sushi and sashimi options are not the regular ones seen in the more “westernized” restaurants and both sushi and sashimi as well as hot entrées are very good here. Start out with the otoshi, which is a selection of four appetizers which change daily, so the customers are always surprised. The cuts in the combination sushi/sashimi platters are always extremely fresh and well presented.
One of the oldest restaurants in Liberdade still operating, the establishment puts clients in the mood for Eastern cuisine already at the entrance, where a golden Buddha welcomes those entering. The restaurant is cozy and you will eat listening to oriental music. Like many restaurants in the area the menu has pictures so as to make it easier to choose. The combination platters can be served for one or more people, or you can order a la carte. The restaurant is a bit pricey but the ingredients are always fresh and entrées are prepared to perfection.
The Yamaga has been around for many years, and is a favorite among Japanese residents and visitors alike. The sushi platter does not diverge much from the regular fishes you find at other restaurants, but the cuts are extremely fresh and delicious. One of the most popular is the squid sushi which has a sweet sauce and is sprinkled with sesame seeds. Here you will not find any “westernized” sushi with avocado, mango and mayonnaise. In addition to sushi and sashimi the Yamaga has one of the best yakisobas in town. If you want something special, ask to be seated in a private room with the Tatami rugs on the floor.
The Sushi Isao is a buffet-style restaurant, which will please many people since, for a fixed price, you can eat all the sushi and sashimi you want. On the other hand, not everyone likes the buffet-style when it comes to raw seafood. The fish cuts, however, are very fresh and the choice is above what you might expect for an all you can eat, with roe, octopus, shrimp, squid and – hard-to-find even in a la carte restaurants – oysters (when in season).
Popular with both the Japanese community living in Liberdade and western folks looking for good sushi, the Sendai is both a treat for the palate and for the eyes. Clients across the room will observe as the wooden boats with the combination platters of sushi and sashimi pass by to other eager and hungry customers. The seafood is exquisitely cut, and although a bit more expensive than other restaurants in the area, it is worth the money and the time. The house announces at the front that it does not have the all-you-can-eat option.