I love sushi. While it may not be everyone’s favorite, I consider sushi to be the ultimate eating experience. The unique textures and tastes in each roll form a playground for the senses. But while sushi’s popularity has been steadily rising in the United States, there is a big misconception about sushi that often gets overlooked. This “Japanese” delicacy actually originated in China.

As early as 400 BC in China, raw fish was kept in rice so that the natural fermentation process of the rice preserved the fish. Then, months later, when the fish was eaten, the rice was discarded. It wasn’t until 1,000 years later that the tradition was introduced in Japan. Preferring to eat the rice with the fish, Japanese people began to eat the preserved fish before the fermentation was over, when the fish was partially raw and the rice still had some flavor; sushi, as we know it today, was born.

History aside, sushi is one of the healthier meals out there. Between the nori (seaweed), the rice, the fish and whatever veggies are added to the roll, it’s hard to find a more balanced meal. The only problem with my passion for sushi is that the fish come from the ocean, and I live in Wisconsin. While we may give Minnesota a run for their money on the lake front, the nearest ocean is quite far away. This means that the sushi you’ll find in Madison could be a letdown. But with that in mind, I want to include a rundown of the sushi places in Madison that I frequent and what makes them great.

Restaurant Muramoto

Restaurant Muramoto has two locations in Madison (King Street off Capital Square and Hilldale Mall) and features my favorite sushi in the city. The freshness is unbeatable as is the quality of ingredients. I go to Muramoto for the lunch special. On any weekday during lunch, you can get the chef’s choice of three rolls of sushi (one from each of three tiers of complexity) for only $10 (If you go to the King Street location, you can pick your rolls for $12). It can be pricey if you go for dinner, but it’s well worth it.

Located at 225 King St.

Wasabi

Located on State Street right off the University of Wisconsin campus, Wasabi is a close second to Restaurant Muramoto for me. The deciding factor was Muramoto’s lunch special. Having said that, Wasabi is fantastic, and if you’re looking for a dinner spot, the choice between Wasabi and Muramoto is a toss-up. I usually go with a friend and split about five rolls.

Located at 449 State St.

Takara Japanese Restaurant

Popular among college students as a destination for sake bombs, Takara is also on State Street, only a block away from Wasabi, with another location on Whitney Way. I consider Takara to be on a slightly lower tier than Wasabi and Muramoto, but I still go to Takara frequently because of the prices. They, too, feature a lunch special for $13, but you can pick any three rolls you want (specialty rolls included) and it comes with a choice of salad or miso soup.

Located at 315 State St.

Edo Japanese Restaurant

Last on my list of sushi restaurants is Edo Japanese Restaurant. Edo features two Madison locations as well, with one on South Park Street and another on Monona Drive. I don’t go to Edo for a sit-down meal (as I’d probably go to one of the other three restaurants listed), but for take-out instead. Edo is great for take-out with fast and convenient service.

Located at 532 South Park St.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Did I leave a great Madison sushi restaurant off my list? Let me know!