You should prefer restaurants that have won awards to those that haven't. This can be misleading. There are such a plethora of awards nowadays that even restaurants that offer food and service that is not much above the average can win one.
If, however, the restaurant you're considering has won multiple awards year after year, then you should give it the benefit of the doubt. You can order food online from irashai, Fairbank whenever needed.
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Freshness is everything in sushi. You are essentially eating raw fish. You should not go to a sushi restaurant unless it makes a guarantee that it takes a daily delivery of fish and uses only what they have received that day to make their dishes.
It is not that hard to discern fish that has been sitting out for days; it exhibits a wilting, worn, deflated look. This is one of the reasons you should choose an open sushi restaurant; you will be able to see for yourself the state of the fish.
If you are really determined to select only the best sushi restaurant, you should find out if any of the ones you're considering have been reviewed by food critics. It is much easier to locate such reviews these days.
In addition to using the online local yellow pages, you can go to the search engine of your choice, type in the name of the restaurants you're interested in, and get the results will usually yield what if anything has been written about them.