Chef Jason Liang, the culinary mastermind behind Brush Sushi, Cuddlefish, Momonoki, and Momo Cafe, is adding another Asian-inspired restaurant to his ever-growing list. Lucky Star will open in January or February 2024 with two distinct spaces: a casual café and bar in the Star Metals lobby (1050 Howell Mill Road) and a reservation-only back-room bar serving elevated cocktails designed by Kirk Gibson (the Giving Kitchen).
Lucky Star is a partnership with Liang, his wife ChingYao Wang (who makes the pastries at Momo Cafe), and John Chen. Wang will also make Momo-style items like mille crepe cakes and filled and flavored croissants to go along with the coffee and matcha drinks served at the front bar at Lucky Star. Liang will prepare street snacks like popcorn chicken and deep-fried sweet potato fries with plum seasoning—one of his favorites growing up—as well as two or three varieties of Taiwanese fried chicken sandwiches, available all day. Soft-serve ice cream in flavors like matcha will be available, too. “Expect foods that are easy to eat and go well with drinks,” Liang says.
Wines will lean natural and come in limited variety, as Gibson wants the bar to focus on “casual cocktails.” This may include cocktails on tap like a seasonal highball made with Japanese whiskey and clarified cucumber juice and a gin and tonic with shiso or yuzu. Stirred drinks such as negronis may make it onto the beverage list as well. “It’s intended to serve the building and be a happy hour place,” Gibson says.
The look and feel of the space will be somewhat determined by the greens and golds of the Star Metals’ lobby. The bar itself will feature light wood accents and soft lighting, “like the color of a white sand beach,” Liang says. Japanese glassware will be on display.
In contrast, the back bar will be dim and elevated. While it will offer some food, Liang is quick to explain that “it is a bar experience, not a restaurant.” With seating for 35, including 12 to 14 at the bar, this area boasts “a touch of luxury.” Drinks will be inspired by the culinary cocktail trend using more food ingredients, extra garnishes, and technology like clarification. Gibson forecasts 12 to 14 creations, plus four or five rotating classics. He’s currently playing around with gin with Thai basil syrup, candy-capped mushrooms that taste like maple syrup and smell like curry, a tomato martini with fermented vermouth, and a New York sour made with pecan orgeat or muscadine wine. Golden gooseberries and tofu puree may also make an appearance.
Since some of the drinks are more unique in taste, Gibson and Liang hope to offer a cocktail “omakase” experience featuring seven half pours and a few small bites. “There are plenty of times I’ve had a sip of a cocktail and thought it was interesting but didn’t want to drink the whole thing,” Gibson says. This will likely take place during non-peak hours—think 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The regular menu in back will offer similar beer and wine options to the front bar—think lighter Japanese or Taiwanese beer, a light local beer, and a few heavier stout porters or German darker beers. Food will be fancier and may include turnip cakes—something Liang grew up eating for breakfast and has since elevated with caviar and foie gras. Caviar service will have a Japanese twist with sushi rice, wasabi, and soy sauce.
In addition to Lucky Star, Liang and his team are working on opening Brush Sushi in the former American Cut space in Buckhead Village. They’re targeting an August launch. A second location of Cuddlefish is planned for summer 2024 at High Street in Sandy Springs.