Shoya Izakaya is such a fun, fun place. It isn’t your usual Japanese dining establishment. Instead, it’s a place for a group to hang out, drink lots of shochu or sake and eat delicious Japanese bar food. Food here is meant to be shared (in true Asian fashion) and ordering from all sections of the menu is great way to sample izakaya.
I have ADD when it comes to food. I can’t just order one thing or focus on just one taste. My mind is always jumping to the next… next order, next flavor, next topic of conversation. This place is so perfect for me because I get to taste so many different flavors in one sitting. On this visit, 20 was the magic number. For three people. And a bowl of rice for me.
First, shochu. I’m a real lightweight when it comes to drinking but you can’t go to an izakaya and not get shochu or sake. Our server suggested three kinds of shochu and we settled on Taiso which was okay but just not to our liking. Next, we moved on to some sashimi and salads.
The salmon sashimi was like butter. Enough said. The tuna was fresh but it wasn’t out of the ordinary. The uni (my absolute favorite sashimi since I was young) was the best I’ve had in a long time — sweet, buttery. Two orders of this did us good. A great start to more good things to come.
Salads are a waste of precious stomach space for me. But my sister wanted something to clean her palate — whatever — between flavors so she picked two: wakame and the house salad. The seaweed salad was pedestrian, but not bad. The house salad with the fried burdock root was surprisingly good, with the crispy burdock strips adding crunch.
At this point, I must have infected my dining companions with my ADD as the ordering (and conversation) turned into craziness. I applaud our server for keeping up with us and not once did she make a mistake with our numerous, confusing orders. Grilled Ika came next. It wasn’t as great as we hoped it would be (a bit on the gummy side), but we finished it, nonetheless.
Aside from uni, my most absolute favorite is Gindara. In Asia, gindara (silver cod or sablefish) is the equivalent of steak in America, with the best being served at only the first-rate places. My sister and I have loved this since we were kids, having first introduced to it as a breakfast staple in Japan. Here at Shoya, this miso-marinated fish was grilled to perfection. It melted in the mouth, as fresh as it can be, perfectly seasoned, and buttery. One word: orgasmic. We ended up getting additional orders of it.
The kushiyakis we ended up having were the chicken livers, gizzards, and pork belly. Our dear friend, the FryGuy, was giving us a lecture about liver preparation and something about buttermilk and how here differs from other places, but our food ADD was in full force at this point so we lost him after buttermilk. In any case, I particularly liked the livers because they were simply grilled lightly, seasoned only by a few shakes of salt, letting the true flavor to shine. The gizzards were a bit chewy but good in taste, otherwise. The pork belly speaks for itself. Eat it and weep.
Hamachi kama is something we saw our mom eat with gusto while growing up. She would regularly get a whole bunch from YDFM at 40-cents a piece (sometimes even for free) and grill it at home. I think they sell them by the pound now. That was way back before Harry had a falling out with his brother. He eventually opened his own place (Harry’s Farmer’s Market) which was later bought out by Whole Foods. Aha, bet you didn’t know that! Anyway, back to the food. The grilled hamachi kama was a bit pricey for its size but it was really delicious so it didn’t really matter. It was so yummy that I had to pick it up and eat it with my hands. A few bites of rice, a few dips in ponzu sauce and it makes for a fantastic meal.
Our server pushed the eggrolls and some fresh oyster on us so we agreed. These were wrapped in wonton wrappers, filled with shrimp and pork, then fried lightly. These were better than any Chinese versions you may have had. Crispy, flaky outside, savory filling, and eaten best with Japanese mustard and soy sauce. Good to try at least once.
The fresh oysters were huge. It was difficult to eat in one bite but we managed. I loved the chili oil and spicy oroshi with it.
One of the specials of the night was Okura With Sticky Seaweed. It’s a very light, refreshing salad made with paper thin slices of okra and sticky seaweed in an oil-vinegar-based dressing. I loved it. But then again, I love durian, too. You’ll just have to get past the sliminess and get to the refreshing part.
The Grilled Salmon and Ten-Musubi at this point of our meal were not really a good idea. It was an after-thought, ordered at the peak of our food ADD. The salmon, served on a sizzling hot plate, though fresh, was just ordinary. The shrimp onigiri was just too filling at this stage. The copious amount of rice enveloped a small sweet shrimp. Good but too filling. The drizzling of teriyaki sauce was also uncalled for as the shrimp was sweet enough and onigiris are usually plain anyway.
Last, and the perfect ending to our feast, was an order of Beef Ponzu Ae. Thin strips of marinated rib eye grilled lightly (rare) were served on a bed of field greens and drizzled every so light with ponzu sauce. It was superb.
There are so many more things on the menu that need exploring. While some dishes are better than others, there are quite a few stellar items that I would definitely get again. I am already plotting my next visit.
Our bill for 20 dishes (with shochu) came to close to $200 for three people before tip. We went overboard with the ordering but that’s just the way I am when it comes to food. By the way, we finished every last morsel.
Located in the same plaza where Super H Mart Doraville will be. Next to Brand Smart USA.
6035 Peachtree Road
Doraville, GA 30341
Closed on Monday