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The growing popularity of sushi in America has created a market for what culinary purists disparagingly call "McSushi" - a sort of fast-food interpretation of the traditional Japanese art form. We've done the same to the pizza, the croissant, the burrito, etc., so it was only a matter of time before we Americanized the sushi.
But fans of classic sushi and sashimi can find what they're looking for amid a sea of phonies. Myrtle Beach is home to several authentic Japanese eateries serving sushi the way it was intended, some of them just a short distance from Ocean Reef Resort, others well worth the drive. Here are the top five places to go out for sushi in Myrtle Beach:
* Art Burger Sushi Bar: This new, eclectic cafe in the heart of the downtown district doesn't sound like your run of the mill sushi place, and it's not. Featuring the works of local artists on the walls and a scenic view of the ocean on the patio deck, this unique diner serves creative sushi rolls alongside a line of delicious albeit seemingly unrelated burgers. Catering to an artsy crowd with mixed taste buds, Art Burger Sushi Bar is based on the premise that some folks love sushi and some folks prefer burgers, and they should have a place to hang out together. This is also a great place to get a drink thanks to the liquid nitrogen bar that makes everything from frozen drinks to ice cream. Despite the frills, the sushi is legit.
* Co Sushi: This regional chain out of Charleston recently opened a location in Myrtle Beach at the trendy Market Common complex and the reaction among sushi lovers has been positive. Focusing on fresh ingredients and creative combinations, Co Sushi brings a bit of sophistication to the Grand Strand sushi scene. The unusual name comes from the Vietnamese word for "feast," and Co Sushi offers an abundance of sushi options as well as some pan-Asian dishes. Happy hour food and drink specials draw a nice early crowd.
* Indo Thai: This locally owned and operated eatery features some of the best sushi on the Strand. Founded by an Indonesian-born but locally raised chef, Indo Thai reflects her unique heritage by creating dishes from her homeland with fresh, local seafood. With two locations, one in Pawleys Island and the other in Myrtle Beach just a couple of miles from Ocean Reef. Also serving hibachi dinners and traditional Indian and Thai dishes, this is a great place for groups with mixed taste buds. Get good discounts on sushi and drinks during happy hour.
* King Kong Sushi: Sushi lovers go ape over this Broadway at the Beach establishment for its enormous-sized rolls. Yes, you can still get the standard five- and six-piece rolls you are used to, but this is a great chance to go big with King Kong's 12-piece platters of creative concoctions. Tuna fans crave the popular Tuna Mania, a huge spicy tuna roll that is wrapped in thinly sliced tuna tataki that is heated by a blowtorch. King Kong also has an extensive menu of Japanese and pan-Asian dishes, as well as a large bar area and an outdoor patio deck overlooking Lake Broadway.
* Soho: This trendy little café in downtown Myrtle Beach specializes in sushi but has an extensive food and drink selection to attract a large young crowd. Soho becomes a popular happy hour spot and is open late for dinner and drinks. Located on 21st Avenue North, Soho is a popular place to hang out before a night on the town at Broadway or the Beach or along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk.
(Photo Courtesy: myrtlebeach.com)