One of my favorite things is small, family style sushi houses where the head sushi chef is also the owner operator. The one I frequent most often in Atlanta is Taka Sushi and Passion http://www.takasushiatlanta.com on Pharr Road in Buckhead. Taka lets us know when he has an especially nice piece of fish coming in from the Japanese fish market in Tokyo on his blog sushiandpassion.blogspot.com. Just looking at the photos of this Big Eye tuna makes my mouth water. Some of the other likeable things about this sushi house includes the homemade gyoza, the appetizer specials, like kanpachi carpaccio, thinly sliced amberjack with a light ponzu sauce, daikon, radish, scallions and some little crunchy green roe. The wait staff is very attentive, the decor well appointed with light wood and gold complimented by hints of red and white, and the setting intimate (bordering on crowded), and an ambiance that allows you to converse with your dining companions (very light jazzy ballads as background music). Guess where I’m going to dinner!
Started with the Negitoro Don, finely minced big eye toro marinated with wasabi and a fine soy, garnished with scallions over a bed of warm jasmine rice. A melt in your mouth blend of sweet and creamy with a pop of wasabi spice along the way.
I followed this with Taka’s Tokyo Tsukuji Express special. Taka’s choice of 4 fish prepared sashimi style from the fish market. I was served Black Throat (Aka-mutsu), Blue Fusilier (Ao Dai), Malabar Grouper (Yabo-Hata) and Bartail Flathead (Magochi).
So here’s the tricky part, remembering which fish is which, as they look so similar. I think my favorite is the Black Throat because of its buttery melt in your mouth texture and flavor, tiny bits of oak and smoke in the finish. My second choice was the Bartail Flathead, which also had a subtle earthy, smoky element to it. The grouper was my least favorite, only because it was chewy and to me its flavor did not offer the complexity of the Black Throat. The Blue Fusilier fit somewhere between the grouper and the flathead, not so chewy as the grouper. That is my palate though, yours might be different.
The opportunity to try different fish, not common on most sushi house menus is another element that makes Taka Sushi and Passion a special dining experience. After 2 years of eating my way through low grade tuna, sushi menus that lacked creativity and a few overpriced sushi houses, I am glad I finally found Taka!