By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 15, 2010 at 11:11 AM

There was a time, not long ago, when eating sushi was considered an exotic and -- let's be honest -- a somewhat strange act.

Remember when Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) pulled some out for lunch in "The Breakfast Club?" John Bender (Judd Nelson) almost had a seizure.

When Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo came to Milwaukee to pitch for the Brewers in 1999, he didn't find a lot of options. (His favorite spot, Restaurant Hama, is now closed.)

Today, people in and around Milwaukee eat sushi without stigma. And, they eat a lot of it. In preparing this guide, we came up with roughly two dozen outlets that feature sushi and we're not even sure we got them all. (Use the Talkback feature if your favorite isn't listed.)

You can find sushi in some form at nearly every grocery store. Many grade school kids pick sushi over traditional dinner staples like macaroni and cheese and pizza.

One of the more interesting things about sushi is its subjectivity and, for lack of a better word, snobbery. You might have a favorite place and your friend may not like its offerings at all. Some people will try to "convert" people to their favorite place. Other sushi diners may consider themselves adventurous, but stick to ordering the same thing at the same restaurant year after year.

Here is a list of local sushi outlets. Grab some chopsticks and wasabi and dive in.

1198 George Towne Dr., Pewaukee, (262) 695-3888

There is something for everyone here. The menu offers sushi and sashimi, rolls, hibachi and even some Chinese and Thai selections in an ornate atmosphere. The prices aren't cheap, but most of the patrons look like they can afford it.

850 N. Plankinton Ave., (414) 270-0890

The venerable chain draws a steady stream of tourists and Downtown residents and office workers. Though most come for teppanyaki, they do roll some sushi.

Big Tuna Japanese Grill & Sushi Bar
3624 S. Mooreland Rd., New Berlin, (262) 785-8988
This is the place to go for inexpensive lunch specials, which range from $8-$10 and come with soup, salad and rice.  All entrees are made with a careful eye for presentation and a strong consideration for flavor.  Try the Black Dragon Roll or the Red Snapper Teriyaki.

17395 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield, (262) 796-1977
Striving to bring the authentic Japanese cuisine experience to Wisconsin, Fujiyama on 108th St. was the first sushi and hibachi restaurant to open in West Allis.  Now with a Brookfield location (which sadly has no hibachi grill) there's even more opportunity to enjoy Fujiyama's sleek decor and solid service.

Ginza Sushi Bar
2727A N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa, (414) 771-3333
For friendly and knowledgeable service and affordable prices, Ginza Sushi Bar in Tosa offers a variety of Japanese and Chinese cuisine.  Don't feel like going out?  They deliver.  

Hotaru Steak & Sushi House
N50 W35016 Wisconsin Ave., Okauchee, (262) 569-1433
City dwellers will proclaim "it's a hike to get there," but locals swear by the fresh ingredients and fun atmosphere.

2336 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 278-8056

One of Milwaukee's more affordable Japanese restaurants boasts "the largest sushi selection in Milwaukee" and doesn't skimp on quality.  Ichiban offers some of the city's finest sushi, sake and bento dinners.  Enjoy their food to-go if you're in a rush.

2178 N. Prospect Ave., (414) 271-5278

Want a sure-fire way to verify that this long-time spot has not lost its fastball over the years? Walk in on a Monday or Tuesday night and see how many local chefs are enjoying the fresh sushi and extensive sake list. They've been doing it right for over 20 years.

4918 S. 74th St., Greenfield, (414) 281-9868

Established in 2003, this family-owned restaurant flies in fresh seafood three times a week and prides itself on presentation.

Kiku Japanese Restaurant
202 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 270-1988 

Ranked among the Top 100 Asian Restaurants in the United States in the MenuAsian competition, this bar/restaurant is the perfect spot to blow off some late-night steam and indulge in sushi, teriyaki cuisine, and tempura dishes - and take advantage of their great alcohol selection.

7453 W. Layton Ave., Greenfield, (414) 325-1000

Can you get decent sushi in a strip mall? The answer here is a definite "yes."  And customers rave about their weekly specials.  Since a remodel in early 2010, the decor has become sleek and sophisticated.  And they don't skimp on the servings, either.

9011 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek, (414) 768-8888

With hibachi tables, a sushi bar and Chinese dishes, this two-generation-family-owned restaurant covers all the bases.

Lucky Lius's
1664 N. Van Buren St.
(414) 223-1699

If you can't decide between sushi/Japanese and Chinese, this place is designed for you. The dining area is small, but they are open for takeout/delivery until 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.  Best of all?  You can place your take-out order online.   

Midori Fusion
11002 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, (262) 240-0161
With nearly 30 years of experience, Chef Lee knows his way around sushi and sashimi.  Check out the Crunchy Dragon Roll and finish with tempura ice cream.

Nanakusa Japanese Restaurant
408 E. Chicago St., (414) 223-3200

Even hard-to-please sushi snobs enjoy the eclectic selections at this Third Ward hot spot. Many in town list it as their favorite.  They also have a full selection of traditional and Japanese-inspired cocktails.  Tatami rooms featuring low tables and traditional Japanese seating can also be reserved for the full experience.

Pacific Bistro
3215 Hillside Dr., Delafield, (262) 303-4981

Sushi shares the stage with hibachi, Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Pan-Asian dishes. People drink sake, but the lemongrass Cosmo and Pacific Rim Margarita are listed as house specialties.

Sake Tumi
714 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 224-7253

Clever name. Solid sushi and Korean BBQ, plus a Fusion Menu featuring mash-ups of Japanese, Korean, French, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Oh, and put on your best clothes because it's located on one of Milwaukee's trendier streets.

6969 N. Port Washington Rd., Glendale, (414) 228-8818

Sushi, sashimi, rolls and other entrees lead the menu here, with miso soup, salad and rice served with almost everything.  Bring the kids, because there's a great junior menu as well.

Screaming Tuna Sushi & Asian Bistro
106 W. Seeboth, (414) 763-1637
They like to mix it up at Screaming Tuna in the Historic Third Ward, offering a variety of classic favorites and inventive dishes like Thai Ginger Red Snapper and Gyu Maki glazed with teriyaki sauce.  If it's a nice day, enjoy the patio seating.  If it's not a nice day, enjoy the full bar and extensive wine & cocktail menu.

400 N. Water St., (414) 272-4646

A popular grab-and-go outlet in the Milwaukee Public Market.

12900 W. Bluemound Rd., Elm Grove, (262) 789-8383

Previously known as Takara, Tokyo features a Hibachi Main Dining Room with six "Teppanyaki" tables that accommodate up to 10 people.  Enjoy their $10.95 lunch specials served with soup and salad.

Umami Moto
718 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 727-9333

Umami moto is known as the "fifth taste" in food, after sweet, sour, salt and bitter. The menu features Asian dishes including sushi rolls, wraps and wok fries plus Wisconsin's own Rishi Tea. You'll see a lot of local movers and shakers -- along with the occasional visiting celebrity -- enjoying great food in a cool atmosphere.

Wasabi Sushi Lounge
15455 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield, (262) 780-0011

If you haven't tried it yet, you should. The sushi is great and happy hour offers the signature Sake Tini (sake-infused vodka served with a splash of lime) and a Black Orchid (sake, midori, blue curacao, watermelon and cranberry juice) along with $5 sushi rolls. It might be the best Web site on this list, too.