Where to eat sushi in Atlanta

An abbreviated guide to the best nigiri, date night tables, and Japanese cocktails

Photograph by Angie Mosier

Are we living in the golden age of sushi? It sure feels like it. We’ve witnessed a steady stream of Japanese restaurants open in the last two years, each one taking care to fly in fish from Japan more frequently than the next. From hip izakayas to serious sushi stars, here’s a guide for the next time you’re ready to roll.

The rooftop patio at O-Ku
The rooftop patio at O-Ku

Photograph by Heidi Geldhauser

Wanted: Sushi with a view

Westside’s newest and hippest sushi bar comes with a breezy rooftop bar that offers sweeping views of the Midtown skyline. On a cool summer night, lounge on one of the cushy couches and order a round of nigiri and cocktails. Good to know: Chef Jackie Chang hails from Korea and sources his flounder and eel from his native Jeju island. 1085 Howell Mill Rd., 404-500-2383

Wanted: Omakase

Most sushi restaurants offer a lavish tasting menu, but few are as intimate as Tomo’s. Owner Tomohiro Naito prepares this private, 10-course extravagance for only five patrons a night so make reservations at least one week in advance. World-class nigiri on the city’s best sushi rice is Naito’s signature. Good to know: The restaurant sources 90 percent of its fish from Japan, and most of it arrives on Thursdays. 3630 Peachtree Rd., (404) 835-2708

Wanted: The rarest and freshest seafood
Sushi House Hayakawa

Reservations fill up weeks in advance at the newly-remodeled Hayakawa, which boasts fewer than 30 seats. Chef Atsushi Hayakawa also discourages walk-ins and is finicky about answering the phone. But if you can weasel your way into this modest dining room, hone-in on the specials like giant octopus, flying fish, and uni from the northern tip of Hokkaido, the sea urchin capital of the world. Good to know: Sit at the sushi counter to watch the jovial Hayakawa in his element. 5979 Buford Highway, 770-986-0010

Wanted: Good vibes, yakitori, and booze
Brush Sushi Izakaya

Did it really take this long for somebody to open an ambitious Japanese restaurant in Decatur? The neighborhood scores with this high-energy pub specializing in juicy chicken skewers grilled and charred over Japanese charcoal. Order a bottle of sake for the table. Good to know: Chef Jason Liang has a knack for bringing in quality fish, with daily seafood shipments Tuesdays through Fridays. See if Liang has any cherry salmon on hand. 316 Church St., 678-949-9412

Wanted: Primo date night

High-profile celebrities staying at the St. Regis are known to stalk chef Fuyuhiko Ito’s dimly-lit dining room, which could double as a club if you pushed the tables aside. Most couples stick with rolls and sashimi, but if somebody else is paying, I’m indulging in Ito’s flashy otoro caviar nigiri. A melting slab of fatty tuna spiked with Serrano and wasabi and crowned with caviar gets an earthy whiff from a truffle-infused soy vinaigrette. Good to know: Ask the bartender about Japanese whisky, the latest on-trend brown spirit. The 12-year Yamazaki (served neat) is Kobe-grade impressive. 3050 Peachtree St., 404-841-0040


Photograph by Emily Andrews

Wanted: Atlanta’s most exclusive cocktail lounge

Did Ludacris just walk upstairs? Why does this cocktail cost $18? You’ll have a lot of questions the first time you go to Himitsu, Umi’s reservation-only cocktail lounge next door. First you need to email hello@puraibeto.com to get a password for the keypad outside an unmarked door that’s a stone’s throw from the valet for King + Duke. When you finally settle in and acclimate to the scene, you’ll find a menu of impressive cocktails served in high-end stemware (even the water glasses are Baccarat so take care). Japanese cocktails lean on the subtle, fruity side. Try like the tequila-tinged Yuzu or the truffle-scented Toryufu. Good to know: The bathrooms feature Japanese toilets, which have heated seats. Guys, you’ll want to sit down for this one. One Buckhead Plaza

Wanted: Cocktails that don’t cost $18
Craft Izakaya

Brad Tolleson is the new beverage director at this Krog Street Market watering hole. Tolleson previously worked at Himitsu, so he knows his way around subtle potions with Japanese ingredients. Start with Big Hands, a mix of whisky and yuzu with notes of allspice. Good to know: The menu offers plenty of bar bites. Don’t miss the takoyaki (orbs of fried octopus) and the spicy tuna avocado ball. Suite X, 99 Krog St., 470-355-9556