Despite being surrounded by the arid, ocean-free expanses of the Sonoran Desert, Tucson sushi restaurants still find ways to distinguish their craft. But to stand out in the crowd, it’s not enough just to source the freshest fish around—it also takes bold flavors to win the hearts of local maki devotees. Here are the orders worth making at five top-notch Tucson restaurants. All-You-Can-Eat Sushi at Sushi GardenSushi Garden has yet to meet an appetite it can’t quell. Voted Best Sushi in Tucson Weekly multiple years in a row, the restaurant offers all-you-can-eat feasts that let diners enjoy steady helpings of select maki and nigiri without ever having to pause for air or conversation. There are a few rules to keep in mind: don’t share, and don’t ask for takeout. Otherwise, leaving here hungry is practically impossible. Y and J Rolls at Kazoku Sushi & Japanese CuisineThe flavor-packed Y and J rolls are not only named for Chef Seogmin Youn’s two sons, Yeohoon and Jihoon, but they also have their own personalities. Spicy mayo lends a slight kick to the Y roll’s tamago, cucumber, and fried sweet-potato combination. On the more savory side, there’s the J roll with a toothsome combination of spicy kani, avocado, and cucumber beneath a layer of crisp tempura flakes. Try one or both—unlike with children, it’s OK to pick a favorite. Mango Tropical Roll at Ginza SushiThe Mango Tropical maki forgoes seafood altogether. Instead, it wraps up avocado, cucumber, and radish sprouts and gets topped with mango before a dusting with sea salt and shichimi. And much like the other dishes at this izakaya, Ginza’s sushi rolls pair best with a healthy pour of sake. Tucson Cowboy Roll at On a Roll The twist at this eatery is all the southwestern flair that chefs seamlessly mix into their traditional Japanese dishes. Take the Tucson Cowboy roll: it seems like your typical spicy tuna roll until you see that it’s crowned with even more slices of fresh tuna … plus dollops of chipotle aioli. Sesame-Crusted Shrimp Roll at SushiMatsuAt first, this roll’s tempura-fried shrimp, fresh tuna, cucumber, avocado, and nutty sesame seeds seem like simply elevated traditional fare. But add in a coating of matcha green tea and a pinch of sea salt and this humble roll is suddenly one of the most intriguing—and delicious—orders you can get at a sushi restaurant in Tucson.
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