I just got confirmation that the folks behind Duluth’s wonderful Haru Ichiban restaurant plan to open Shoya Japanese Restaurant in Doraville in late April, and it will be an izakaya or Japanese-style pub. It will join Miso Izakaya, which opens next week in Inman Park, and fatten the ranks of Atlanta’s izakayas to two. Double yay!
This promises to be very good news for Asian food fans in Atlanta. An izakaya is a bit like Japan’s answer to the tapas bar — i.e., a convivial spot where groups of friends can drink and nosh on shared plates. Usually, izakaya offer a lengthy menu of dishes prepared every which way, from grilled to fried, vinegared, simmered, raw and steamed. A typical meal might include, say, grilled eggplant in sweet miso, smokily charred cuttlefish rings, potatoes steamed in a foil pouch with rivulets of butter, super-crispy fried chunks of bone-in chicken with salt, feathery-light meatballs and sashimi. Hungry yet?
Izakaya usually have a lengthy drinks menu ranging from draft beers to sake and shochu. In summer, shochu cocktails called chu hai are made with fresh squeezed citrus and soda.
Shoya will open in the Peachtree Pavillion development at 6035 Peachtree Road, a new shopping complex just inside the perimeter that will be anchored by a Super H Mart supermarket.
Miso opens in a slick little building at 619 Edgewood Ave., along the stretch where warehouses just start giving way to Victorian prettiness. An early look at chef/owner Guy Wong’s menu shows a lot of easy-to-like Japanese dishes such as gyoza dumplings, shrimp tempura, fried tofu and edamame.
Though no local Japanese restaurants currently advertise themselves as izakaya per se, a few do have appealing menus that tilt in that direction. The new menu at Sushi House Hayakawa in Doraville has a lengthy selection of “appetizers” that Japanese diners recognize as typical pub dishes. The seaweed salads, chewily grilled squid legs and creamy crab croquettes all complement itamae-san Art Hayakaya’s excellent selection of sakes and shochu. There’s even the one dish that few non-Japanese can stomach called shio kara: fermented squid guts.
Sushi Yoko in Norcross also has a lengthy menu of small plates that includes such delights as spicy cod roe and deep-fried mochi (rice taffy) in broth. The latter dish is great. Crunchy, salty, chewy and slurpy, it’s all about another round of drinks. In other words: perfect izakaya food.