A friend and I stopped in for lunch today at Bishoku Japanese Restaurant in Sandy Springs — a spot that has been getting good play on local food blogs. It has a unique presence in the Atlanta Japanese food scene: the lengthy menu offers a number of small plates much like you’d find at Shoya Izakaya, Hashiguchi, Jr., or Sushi Yoko. In other words, it has bona fides. This place is a real Japanese restaurant, not a sushi-fusion whatever.
But unlike those other places, which push the booze, Bishoku is kind of fancy. Dark wood, soft lighting and discreet nooks create a serene effect. There is no bar and no bottle of liquor in sight, though I think the restaurant serves beer, sake and shochu. A large sushi bar dominates the center of the room.
The young, businesslike woman making the rounds of tables is Jackie Fukuya Merkel, the owner and daughter of the founding owners of Sushi Huku — a longtime Northside favorite.
I haven’t tried much of the menu but very much liked my lunch. That gorgeous tube of yumminess pictured above ($5.50) is Bishoku’s version of nasu dengaku — a traditional dish of eggplant broiled with a sweet miso topping. Here, the chef adds Japanese mustard (karashi) for kick and honey for balance. The eggplant is cooked until the center is like custard and the skin forms a nice resilient shell to scoop.
I also ordered this bowl of miso ramen ($7.95) — a perfect lunch-sized portion of fright-wig noodles in a not-too-salty miso soup base with crisp bamboo shoots, scallion, seaweed and two slivers of pork belly to cherish.
My friend ordered the lunch bento ($12.95) — a mix-and-match deal that lets you choose from various sushi rolls, tempura, teriyaki and grilled mackerel.
All meals here end with a nice, two-bite dessert on the house. Our neighbors got what appeared to be green tea mousse, while we were served this butterscotch poundcake. Better than a breath mint!
I can’t wait to go back for dinner.