Savor the Sushi in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
You can’t visit the Alabama Gulf Coast without dining on our fresh local seafood, and it doesn’t get any fresher than sushi.
This traditional Japanese dish is often polarizing at the dinner table - either you love it, or you hate it, without a lot of wiggle room in between.
But the sushi scene in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is as vast as our 32 miles of white-sand beaches. With access to the freshest seafood right out of the Gulf, local restaurants have turned up the heat on crafting unique sushi creations that dazzle visitors and locals alike.
Here’s everything you need to know to savor the sushi in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach!
Speak the Sushi Lingo
First things first - what is sushi, really? Most people think of it as raw fish but pick up any sushi menu and you’ll find that the world of sushi is as deep as the Gulf of Mexico. The term “sushi” actually refers to the sticky, vinegared rice that accompanies many dishes, but the term now refers to an entire culinary tradition. There are cooked rolls, vegetarian and vegan options, and yes, raw choices.
If you aren’t familiar with the lingo, looking at a sushi menu can be a bit intimidating. So, you know how to order and what to expect on your plate, here are some common sushi terms to know before you dive in:
- Maki - Maki means “roll” and is the type of sushi you’re probably most familiar with. A maki roll combines seafood and other ingredients rolled with sushi rice and seaweed (nori) and sliced into bite-sized pieces. They can include countless combinations of raw or cooked seafood, vegetables, sauces, and seasonings.
- Futomaki - meaning “fat roll,” futomaki is the largest of the maki rolls. They’re usually made with several ingredients rolled into a tight layer of nori and cut into thin bite-sized pieces.
- Hosomaki - the smallest maki rolls are made with one or two ingredients and rolled tightly in a strip of nori. They’re cut thin and usually served with wasabi and soy sauce. Tuna rolls and salmon rolls are popular versions of hosomaki.
- Uramaki - Also called an “inside-out roll,” uramaki is served with the sticky sushi rice on the outside. The inside of the roll is filled with ingredients wrapped tightly in nori. These rolls are typically garnished with seasonings like sesame seeds or garlic and can be quite messy. The popular California Roll is a type of uramaki.
- Nigiri - The opposite of a maki roll, nigiri is served as a thin slice of fish atop a hand-crafted ball of sushi rice. Depending on the species, the fish may be served raw, grilled, or marinated.
- Sashimi - This simple dish features thin slices of raw fish that are elegant in their simplicity. It technically isn’t considered sushi since it’s served without rice but is a popular choice on American sushi menus. It’s typically eaten with chopsticks and a yummy dipping sauce.
The 4 Best Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Spots for Sushi
3. Mikato Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar
A popular hibachi restaurant, Mikato also boasts a large variety of expertly prepared sushi dishes. Their creations feature fresh seafood caught daily in the Gulf, making it one of the freshest sushi options in the area. Their robust menu includes classic and vegetarian options as well as daily chef’s specials that are plated to perfection.
4. Aji Sai Asian Cuisine
Aji Sai specializes in Asian cuisine that’s as affordable as it is delicious. Their modern take on the culinary classics includes hand-rolled sushi dishes crafted from the freshest ingredients in the area. Their classic rolls are just $5 each, making it the perfect spot to try several different options. They’re best known for their delicious vegetarian options; try the sweet potato roll for a yummy blend of fried sweet potato and crunchy tempura.
Sushi-d out? Check out the top restaurants in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for the top 100 mouth-watering spots on the Gulf Coast!