Kimio Fukuya holds court most nights at Bishoku, the new Japanese restaurant started by his vivacious daughter, Jackie. Fukuya retired two years ago after selling his seminal restaurant Sushi Huku, a popular Japanese expat hangout known for its Osaka-style specialties. But his former sushi chef, Mickey-san, migrated to Bishoku, and many of his old drinking buddies join him for rounds of sake and hearty food in a dining room the exact color of green tea.
The eerie feeling of familiarity I experience here helps me deal with its glum setting in an indifferent Sandy Springs shopping center. But the many who love the Fukuya family for its jolly ways walk into the small restaurant with a sense of elation. Every visit reminds me of being in Japan a few years back and discovering the authentic versions of dishes I was only vaguely familiar with before. The fish is well chosen, and Mickey-san, who looks like a wise old monk, is generous with his slicing. As for me, I like to have a spread of little dishes: burdock and lotus roots glossed with sesame oil; whole grilled squid; thick udon noodles and tempura shrimp in dark, comforting broth; coarsely chopped raw octopus marinated with sharp wasabi; shishito peppers stuffed with shrimp; egg custard with shrimp, chicken, and bright green ginkgo nuts steamed in a tea bowl.
Always ask for the list of specials, and make friends with the staff so that they recommend tiny Japanese-style raw oysters with grated daikon and ponzu sauce, an avocado and stone crab salad with angry-red baby octopus, blue crab cream croquettes, or shrimp fried in a mantle of pureed kabocha squash.
The drinking aspect of the meal is truly exquisite thanks to Bishoku’s careful selection of sake carafes and cups that range in material from satiny metal to hand-painted ceramics and, of course, traditional bamboo. The Japanese community has already embraced the restaurant. So will you.
5920 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, 404-252-7998, bishokusushi.com
Photograph by Joe Martinez