Jan 4, 2009

The best traditional Japanese restaurants in São Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo is one of the great cities in the world for sushi - paulistas are true sushiholics and Japanese restaurants abound. Most of them are modern and Westernized, but the city does have a handful of very traditional and old-fashioned Japanese restaurants. Here are the best ones:

Sushi Yassu
A classic. I love the salad of cucumber and cold sliced octopus in a vinegary dressing. They also serve fish head cooked in soy and ginger. There are some Brazilianized dishes such as the salmon carpaccio with capers and parmesan.
Rua Tomás Gonzaga, 98, Liberdade, tel. 3209-6622 (it also has an outpost in Paraíso)

Shin Zushi
This is considered by the venerable Guia 4 Rodas (the Michelin of Brazil) the third best Japanese in São Paulo, which is quite an honour. The guide says: “Very classic, shuns fads and is frequented by Japanese expats. That explains the menu written in Japanese with curt translations”. It's not in Liberdade, the São Paulo "Japantown". Sushiman Rioyiti Yamashita was born in Brazil but spent 7 years in Japan.
Rua Afonso de Freitas, 169, Paraíso, tel. 3889-8700

Strangely located in the lower level of a shopping mall on Paulista Avenue called the Top Center. I eat here when I am too lazy to make the trek all the way to the Liberdade district. Small, it's always filled with Japanese. Servers hardly speak Portuguese and the menu is hard to understand. Has one star out of 3 in the Guia 4 Rodas.
Rua São Carlos do Pinhal, 241, lj. 7, Bela Vista, tel. 3289-4708

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