321 S. Main St. SLC, UT 84111

Monday–Friday, 11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Sunday–Thursday, 5:30 p.m.–10:00 p.m.,
Friday–Saturday, 5:30 p.m.–11:00 p.m.
Late Night Izakaya
Tuesday–Wednesday, 10:00 p.m.–12:00 a.m.
Late Night Happy Hour
Thursdays, 10:00 p.m.–1:00 a.m.,
Friday–Saturday, 11:00 p.m.–2:00 a.m.

Living where we do, especially 30 years ago, Utah could have been comparable to creative eating’s desert island. Funeral potatoes, white bread, Jell-O and Flock of Seagulls were fully stocked, while international flavors were still making their way into our landlocked hearts.

If a James Bond–style story isn’t the most badass way to tell how traditional sushi made its way into the state, then we might as well be critiquing the evolution of a Mormon tuna casserole. It all started with a man named Toshio Osaka, aka Sensei, and his special assignment from the FBI to teach Japanese martial arts in our little dust bowl. The bar at 321 South and Main, first dubbed Sushi of Asakusa, has been making and preserving history since it first opened shop in 1983. In that time, no ball’s been dropped, and today, it is Shogun.

That’s just scratching the surface. While Sensei made it happen, his good friend and first chef, Shinpei, now deceased, had the dream to make Shogun what it is today. These are all the testaments of Keisuke Sasaki, Shogun’s current, only and veteran sushi chef of eight years out of the 10 that he’s been rolling professionally. Making his way from Shizuoka, Japan, Keisuke studied food and nutrition at Southern Utah University, but came to SLC so he could play punk in his former band, The Willkills. Sasaki now rips guitar in All Systems Fail when he’s off the clock.

Sasaki will be your man any day of the week, but if you’re looking for the experience, Friday and Saturday happy hour ‘til 2 a.m. will be the busiest and best time to get your fix of Slayer and J-pop while you enjoy the freshest cuts in town camping out in one of Shogun’s authentically crafted dining rooms. “These booths are very special,” says Sasaki. “They were built by a Japanese carpenter and constructed without any nails in the traditional fashion, the same as you would find in traditional architectures in Japan.”

For a quieter or more date-night feel, I’d suggest starting an early to midweek dinner ritual. Regardless, a Mexico Roll ($8.00) paired with the Sunrise ($12.00) and some Hot Sake ($5.95 small, $8.95 large) are where you should start. The Mexico, with its spicy tuna, cilantro and avocado rolled then coated in crushed Thai chili, will kick your ass, as it combines traditional meats with the spice and improvisations of sushi chefs from around the world. “American sushi has developed with so many unique ideas for their presentation … [It has] been evolved by many different cultures and people,” says Sasaki.