While many intown Japanese restaurants strive for hipness with flashy digs, Bishoku in Sandy Springs instead embraces tranquility. Aquatic green walls and woodwork in precise geometrical forms nullify the jangling effects of Roswell Road's frequent traffic snags. Owner Jackie Fukuya Merkel, whose family ran Sushi Huku for two decades before selling it in 2007, has a warm graciousness that is earning her a new generation of regulars.
The quality of sushi and sashimi impresses, but the cooks really put their hearts into the menu's flurry of small plates, many of which reflect Fukuya Merkel's Osaka roots. Bishoku's tempura dishes—seafood and vegetables crusted with a crunchy, rustic batter—make ideal bar food and pair masterfully with beer. So does okonomiyaki, a gloppy, pancakelike creation with a casserole's worth of vegetables, calamari, and saucy squiggles on top. (Then again, if you order sake, you get to admire the handcrafted glassware in which it is served.)
Contrast richer dishes with an order of gentle Japanese pickles and more delicate compositions such as yukke, bluefin tuna tartare glossed with sesame oil and served with a raw quail-egg yolk. Quiz your server about the special dessert creations of the day: You may score with shiso granita or cubes of frozen yogurt with juicy bits of watermelon.
Photo by Joe Martinez