While it's tough for me to write about sushi bars and restaurants, it's even more difficult to write about the ones that stick out in my travels. For a sushi place to get a mention on Road Tips, it has to be outstanding in both selection, menu ingenuity, service and taste. On my recent trip to Atlanta, I found a place that hits all those marks in credentials - Sushi Bar Yu-Ka, located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta (see map).
Actually, my colleague, Chris, found this place last year during one of his walking trips near our hotel. He stopped in to get a taste and said that it was surprisingly good. Chris is a sushi connoisseur, so when he says sushi is surprisingly good, it's got to be damn good.
Sushi Bar Yu-Ka is located the southeast corner of a strip mall just off of Piedmont in the Buckhead Triangle bordered by Piedmont, Roswell and Peachtree streets. (I have long gotten over my aversion to eating at restaurants in strip malls.) It was a five minute walk from our hotel, the Doubletree Buckhead. There was a large group of us that evening - 12 of us in total, including a couple guys from Focal Loudspeakers. Nearly everyone in our company likes sushi with the notable exception of my colleague Ian who views sushi as "fish bait". But he was assured that Sushi Bar Yu-Ka did have "real food" that could be ordered.
The decor of Sushi Bar Yu-Ka has sort of a contemporary look with bright walls with minimal artwork and pictures - nothing garish, to say the least. The only thing that looked out of place were the flat panel televisions that were found in a couple corners. The light oak tables are overly sturdy and the chairs have comfortable cloth-padded seats. The place is well lit and features a three-sided sushi bar with three or four sushi chefs working feverously over the chopping boards. We had made reservations and our large table in the corner was waiting for us when we arrived.
I immediately ordered an Asahi beer and opened the menu to see what they had to offer. Of course, they had the regular sushi (with the vinegar rice), as well as sashimi (just the fish alone). And they had a number of interesting sushi rolls to choose from including the Oishi roll which featured tuna, shrimp, rice and a spicy mustard sauce; the Lotus roll which was tuna, yellowtail, and a dash of aioli sauce wrapped in a seaweed ring; and the Volcano - spicy tuna with fried crawfish. I thought about getting the Volcano, but I'd rather have fresh crawfish versus the fried stuff.
I ordered up a plate of the spicy tuna roll, some toro (fatty tuna), sake (salmon) and a spicy tuna roll. And that was just to start off. After a small bowl of miso soup there was quite a wait before our sushi began to show up at the table. Actually, Ian had ordered a teriyaki steak with some steamed vegetables. His steak showed up well before the sushi came out. (To Sushi Bar Yu-Ka's defense - it was about 3/4's full when we were in there. And we ordered a LOT of sushi at our table.) I was able to down the first large bottle of Asahi and a good portion of a second bottle before my sushi plate showed up.
The wait was well worth it. The toro was very, very good - fresh and flavorful. It was a little chewy, but I've learned the more chewy toro is, the better it tastes. The sake was also very good - flavorful, tender, very fresh. But the spicy tuna rolls were absolutely great. They had a wonderful taste sensation and combined with soy sauce and the very good wasabi, the taste sensation just knocked my socks off.
Round two saw me order another spicy tuna roll, some ebi (shrimp sushi), smoked sake (smoked salmon), and some maguro (regular tuna). While it didn't take as long to get that plate, it was still about 15 minutes before it arrived in front of me. The smoked salmon was excellent, the maguro was just outstanding, but the ebi was just sort of "eh!". By the time I was down to about five pieces of sushi/spicy tuna roll left, I had hit the proverbial sushi wall. I had experienced sushi overload - a very pleasant place to be.
The guys from Focal picked up the check that night - and I understood that the bill was pretty reasonable for 12 people. Sushi Bar Yu-ka also features a number of lunchtime specials for the people who work in the Buckhead area.
Chris was right - Sushi Bar Yu-Ka was surprisingly good. Just be prepared to wait for your food if it's busy, however. It's still too bad I was only able to experience it just once.