Atsushi “Art” Hayakawa's low-key bar is a purist's retreat for Japanese cuisine. Too much cream cheese gimmickry and loud techno blight many of the city's sushi emporiums. What a relief to sit in a plain room and savor simple dishes like ikura don—salmon roe marinated in homemade soy sauce, gilded with sea urchin, and served over rice and seaweed—or a plate of sashimi arranged so meticulously you wonder if the staff moonlight as photo stylists. More a fan of cooked food? Try the crunchy fried oysters with a wedge of lime and homemade tartar sauce or the sublime hamachi kama (yellowtail collar).
Best of Atlanta 2013
No place in Atlanta brings back memories of Japan for me like chef Atushi “Art” Hayakawa's jolly sushi counter: The staff members banter with the clientele, and oversized bottles of sake (from which servers pour individual glasses) sit temptingly on display. Among his many fine raw and cooked dishes, Art's salmon roe—marinated in soy, sake, and mirin, though it's also savored plain—is the finest in town. Try it atop uni ikura don with sea urchin, rice and shimmery seaweed slivers. Make reservations for the counter, lest you walk in to find every seat taken by the tight-knit community of rabid fans.