Girlfriends on a sushi night in Gulf Shores, AL

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 5 Best Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Spots for Sushi

Coast Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Gulf Shores, AL

Now that you’re a sushi specialist, it’s time to get out and try the best sushi the Gulf Coast has to offer. Here are the best places to dive into great sushi in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

1. Coast Restaurant & Sushi Bar

If you’re looking for world-class sushi with a view, look no further than Coast Restaurant & Sushi Bar. Known for having some of the best sushi in the area, the restaurant features stunning waterfront views and a large menu full of popular and traditional choices. 

From a large variety of unique maki rolls to carefully prepared nigiri, even discerning sushi lovers will find something new and delicious to try here. Wait times are longer for sushi dishes (but so worth the wait), so check out their menu ahead of time to get your order in when you arrive! 

2. Big Fish Restaurant

For a diverse and delicious sushi menu, add a stop at Big Fish in Orange Beach to your vacation itinerary. In addition to traditional favorites, dive into unique offerings like Chili Garlic Sashimi. Feast on fresh tuna and avocado tossed with cilantro and chili garlic sauce served in a wonton cup and drizzled with sweet soy reduction. The Pork Gyoza (pan-fried dumpling) is not to be missed, either. The elegant atmosphere at Big Fish elevates your entire dining experience.

3. Master Joe’s

Chefs Joe Ou and Chen Lee bring their traditional Japanese training to American ingredients to create some of the best sushi in Orange Beach. Each dish is as beautiful as it is delicious, making it hard to disturb - but harder to resist! The menu features plenty of popular choices like the California Roll or Bama Roll, but you’ll want to try one of their specialty options. With unique blends and culinary precision, their one-of-a-kind creations are a can’t-miss sushi experience!

Girlfriends dining at Big Fish in Orange Beach, AL

4. 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. 

5. 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!

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