4 Japanese Restaurants You May Not Have Tried in Atlanta
Whether you are a local or just passing through, Atlanta has some excellent authentic Japanese restaurants that are off the beaten path.
By now, the ubiquitous Japanese hibachi-style steakhouse has popped up everywhere, and there are dozens upon dozens of these restaurants in the Atlanta area. While they are usually quite good, and offer a glimpse into Japanese food preparation and flavors, they are not indicative of authentic Japanese cuisine. Check out these four delicious Japanese restaurants in the Atlanta area and discover some authentic food from Japan in the heart of Georgia’s capital city.
Stop by Starfish for what is widely recognized as the best sushi in Atlanta. You may not have ever gone out of your way to visit a sushi-only restaurant, but by the time you leave from a meal at Starfish, you’ll wonder why you never tried it sooner! Starfish features lots of different varieties of fish, all of which are flown in fresh overnight and are never frozen. You can select from a number of specialty sushi rolls, or sample the sliced sashimi.
Since you’re in Georgia, I recommend trying the Gone with the Wind Roll, which is a shrimp tempura roll with spicy tuna on top. Give the Jurassic Park Roll a try if you like eel; the roll is built from a standard California roll, but piled high with a whole eel on top. And if spicy is your thing, try the Twister Roll, which includes spicy tuna with more spicy tuna on top, and serrano chili peppers.
Starfish is located at 2255 Peachtree Road in Atlanta.
It is open Monday through Thursday from 5:30pm to 10:30pm, Friday from 5:30pm to 11:00pm, Saturday from 5:00pm to 11:00pm, and Sunday from 5:00pm to 10:00pm.
Head over to Miso Izakaya for incredibly authentic, traditional Japanese food the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else in the city. This restaurant is a bit off the beaten path in Atlanta, but it’s popular with the locals, and with good reason. You can find all manner of real Japanese dishes here, and anything you choose is sure to be prepared with fresh ingredients by a chef who knows what he’s doing.
This is one of the only restaurants in the United States that regularly puts okonomiyaki on the menu. Okonomiyaki is a traditional Japanese dish made of rice (or sometimes noodles) and whatever type of ingredients you like, tossed in for flavor. The ingredients are formed into a pancake shape and grilled until crispy on the outside and soft inside. Okonomiyaki is usually topped with eel sauce and mayonnaise, often with scallions and pickled ginger. Although it may not always be listed on the menu here depending on the time of year, ask for it anyway—it’s the best!
Miso Izakaya is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30pm to midnight, and Monday from 5:30pm to 10:00pm. It is closed on Sundays.
To be fair—yes, Nakato does feature a hibachi grill area. However, it also has the option of dining in the “washoku” style, which is a very traditional and very authentic manner of enjoying your dinner. When you dine at Nakato in its Traditional Dining area, you will be seated on a raised tatami mat floor, with a low table and pillows for comfort. You can choose from several different options for a full course dining experience at this restaurant.
When dining in the tatami mat rooms, try as much as you can! I recommend the sukiyaki, which is a classic Japanese hot pot dish including beef, tofu, vegetables, and noodles in a special sauce. You might also try shabu-shabu, a similar dish with a delicious broth. Snack on some yakitori before your meal, or add lobster tempura as a tasty side treat. Whatever you choose, you are sure to enjoy this dining experience.
Call ahead for traditional dining reservations.
Nakato is located at 1776 Cheshire Bridge Road NE in Atlanta.
It is open Monday through Thursday from 5:30pm to 10:00pm, Friday and Saturday from 5:30pm to 11:00pm, and Sunday from 5:00pm to 10:00pm.
Last but not least, Yakitori Jinbei features a slightly less expensive alternative to some of the pricier options on the list. The restaurant’s specialty is yakitori, but it also serves a selection of other foods, including real authentic Japanese ramen.
Of course, I have to recommend trying the yakitori, which comes in a wide variety of different flavors and cooking techniques. Sample the chicken meatball version for something unique to this restaurant, or try the Negima yakitori for a traditional chicken paired with jalapeno and green onion.
Yakitori Jinbei is located at 2421 Cobb Parkway.
It is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30am to 1:30pm.
It is also open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30pm to 10:30pm and Sunday from 5:30pm to 9:30pm.
Lead image: flickr photo by pedro.serapio https://flickr.com/photos/pedroserapio/14892904816 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
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