Before my love affair with Korean food, I was hot and heavy with Japanese food which actually started when I was very young. 2009 gave me so many mediocre and disappointing sushi/sashimi meals that I had to give them up for a while. I have since renewed that romance and 2010 seems to be a good year so far. I have been a regular visitor to SHH since 2008 when it first opened but one of the best meals I have had here was less than two weeks ago.
If you have the time (and money, of course) to spare, I highly recommend getting the Omakase. It is a somewhat pricey, multi-course kaiseki meal, lasting about two hours that consists of nothing but the freshest ingredients of the day (and season). If that does not sound like something that would fit your schedule or budget, I highly suggest you order off the day’s Special menu with items that are not conventionally found in Japanese restaurants. Kaiseki meals are traditional meals served in conjunction with Japanese tea ceremonies. It typically includes a soup, three side dishes, sunomono (vinegared dish), sashimi, yakimono (grilled dish), nimono (simmered dish), and sushi.
The first course of our meal included a piece of marinaded herring with Colza buds (similar to rapeseed). This was very interesting because the texture of the fish was made gritty by the seeds. It was like having an explosion in your mouth with every bite as the buds popped like tiny roe. The tamago (omelet) topped with a dollop of mild teriyaki sauce was a refreshing start. The creamy lobster salad wrapped in a single shiso leaf was a contrast of textures.
A sunomono of super sweet shrimp, snow crab leg, mackerel, and octopus with seaweed and paper-thin slices of cucumbers was invigorating. The tartness and sweetness of the dish woke up your taste buds.
Sliced jellyfish (flown in from Japan) was sweet and gelatinously wonderful. The shiso buds added a slight crunch and a berry taste overall. This elicited an oh-my-god-this-is-wonderful comment from me at every bite.
A big bowl of the freshest sashimi came next. It had squid, octopus, yellow tail, red snapper, tuna, and salmon. A special soy sauce is made in-house just for accompanying this — a concoction of soy sauce, dashi, sake, and sugar. Phenomenal.
Tiny, baby octopus fried golden in a light, flour batter was served with dollops of Japanese mayo. These were delicious.
A nimono of tender, sweet, steamed flounder with taro, daikon, okra, and carrot in a miso-soy-dashi broth catapulted me instantly to food heaven. I had to have complete silence, stopping all chatter at the table, as I savored each and every bite. I oohed and aahed as each bite went into my mouth. Umami. Enough said.
A thick slab of grilled salmon in a very light teriyaki sauce was very flavorful.
A sushi plate came next. It had otoro, yellow tail, mackerel, sea scallops, snow crab leg, and tamago. Each was as fresh as the other. The sushi rice was perfection — perfectly steamed, served at a perfect room temperature, and seasoned perfectly. Everything was just perfect.
My most favorite here is the Ikura Don. No one and I mean no one in the state of Georgia makes it better than Chef Art. Normally super salty, he preps the salmon roe in a manner that the saltiness is not offensive, yet still there; and adds a slight hint of sweet to make this an amazing, memorable dish eaten with his perfect sushi rice.
I have finished every single morsel of food that was served. But before I could go to a complete and total food coma, the last part of the meal came next: dessert. This tiny, two-ounce, house-made granita made with Calpico (a popular, yogurty, Japanese drink) is sweetened with honey and laced with the strongest, non-alcohol tasting, sake. I am sure it is just me, but two, teeny, tiny spoonfuls of this was enough to get me, well, drunk.
So far, my best meal of 2010.
This omakase was $65 per person.
Sushi House Hayakawa
5979 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30340