Long before this blog ramped up I wrote a post about Shoya Japanese Restaurant based on a visit I made soon after it opened. It was exciting for me to find a full-tilt-boogie Japanese izakaya in Atlanta. When I lived in Japan after college, I routinely ate in these lively restaurants that served ginormous mugs of draft beer and a huge selection of dishes to pass and share. I was an izakaya devotee long before I had ever set foot in a tapas bar.
I returned recently to this interesting spot by the new Super H Mart in Doraville for perhaps my fourth visit and had another fun meal. The menu is beyond huge here and, truthfully, I’m not sure the small kitchen is always up to the task of giving every plate of food its due. But the good flavors and engaging format make for a good time. This kind of meal — where the plates come helter skelter and make the rounds — always encourages good conversation around the table.
I got a pint of draft Sapporo beer served in a wonderful, tall clay cup and helped myself to these deliciously meaty mushrooms grilled with a sweet soy glaze ($2.99 per 2 skewers).
These lotus root chips ($3.99) came hot from the fryer and lightly salted. With a squeeze of lemon, they were beyond beer-tastic. The flavor is a bit like the love child of artichoke and bamboo shoot.
These crispy rolls ($4.99) were stuffed with seaweed and oozy yellow cheese. Fun in a kind of trashy way, but not something I’d order again.
Shoya was running a special on this classic Japanese winter stew called oden ($5.99). The flavorful fish broth holds (clockwise starting with the triangle) a fried tofu cake, a hard boiled egg, a cross-section of a hollow fish cake called chikuwa, simmered daikon radish, a springy yam cake called konyakku (little flavor and a texture like Vulcanized Jell-o) and a round fish cake. You also get a little daub of sinus-clearing yellow mustard to bring the mild flavors into relief. I love oden but imagine it’s an acquired taste.
This tofu hot pot ($5.99) was another winter special. The broth also holds Chinese cabbage leaves and clusters of enoki mushrooms. You spoon some into a small bowl and season with the provided scallions and momiji oroshi – grated daikon zinged up with hot red chile. Simple and perfect.
We also got some very good handmade gyoza dumplings (the best I’ve had in Atlanta) and yellowtail sashimi. If you like to explore new flavors and don’t mind rolling the dice on an ambitious menu, go.