Nakato: a mixed bag of sushi

Everyone needs a nearby sushi joint. It should be casual and welcoming, but most importantly, it should serve fresh, high-quality product. Consistency is key and neighborhood sushi should be a meal you trust. There shouldn’t be any doubt or concern regarding the fish-related goods delivered to your table/bar.

For me, this place has been Nakato. Located on Cheshire Bridge Road, which is relatively convenient to my Kirkwood household. I’ve been visiting Nakato pretty regularly over the past few months for a few reasons.
1. I can’t afford MF on a regular basis. (but I recommend hitting up the lunch special during the week)
2. Sushi House Hayakawa is FAR (and I had a not amazing meal there – going back on Wednesday to give the same dish another shot).
3. Nakato participates in Restaurant.com so I get lots o’ coupons.
4. You can’t always eat like this or this.

Anyway, on my last visit to Nakato there were some wins and a few losses. The major win was an August special dish that continued into September. It’s called ‘Blue Shrimp Tartar”. Take a look.

from the top

from the top


Starting at the bottom with a layer of chopped avocado, followed by chopped blue shrimp, topped with seaweed shards, ikura (salmon roe), and egg yolk sauce. The tartar is also accompanied by a lightly fried shrimp head and a non-fried shrimp tail.

side view

side view

The individual elements all tasted very good, but due to the plating, it was difficult to get a bite with all of the elements combined.

I also had some rice-less hand rolls. From left to right:
Ika with Ikura (squid with salmon roe), salmon with avocado, spicy scallop

3 cones

3 cones

These were good, but the construction was a bit shoddy. I prefer the sushi chef that works on the left side, so if you’re eating at the sushi bar, sit by him. (These were made by the dude on the right).

IMG_1654

While everything I ate was better than decent, my dining companions did not have as much luck. Let’s start with the better and move onto the worst.

My friend Meredith’s plate:

sushi samplings

sushi samplings

Starting at the bottom with chopped scallop mixed with spicy mayo and masago (small fish eggs) over sushi rice and wrapped with seaweed. She said it was good.
The salmon and yellowtail nigiri were decent, but you can tell from looking at the tuna it was not the greatest cut of meat. It was stringy and broke apart in unappetizing pieces when trying to consume. In fact, the tuna was our main complaint for the meal, as you can see in the Rainbow Rolls below:

white stripes are not yum

white stripes are not yum

A Rainbow Roll is supposed to be a beautiful thing (hence the name), but the veins kinda ruin the aesthetic of the whole shebang. This was a half-fail roll.

2 spicy tuna rolls were also ordered, and this is where the tuna issue became an inedible issue. We all know that ‘spicy’ rolls are most likely made from the scraps of meat, so being that the tuna was already at an all-time low, the spicy tuna rolls were not enjoyable. There may or may not have been a bone discovered in one, and they were not all consumed (which is against my religion when eating sushi).

Honestly, after the tuna debacle of September 2009 I will still give Nakato the benefit of the doubt and return. (Plus, I still have some more coupons to use). I may take a break from eating the tuna and check out the fish before ordering, but it’s done me right more times than not. Maybe it was an off night? Maybe they were mad at me for always coming in with a coupon? Maybe they didn’t appreciate my lame attempt to try to order in Japanese? Either way, I will not be writing off my neighborhood sushi joint quite yet.

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8 responses to “Nakato: a mixed bag of sushi

  1. Ordering in the mother tongue? Leave the foreign-language mangling to Dad.

    • Well, it’s not exactly the same thing because I wasn’t speaking conversational Japanese. Just naming the fish so I can try to get what I wanted. Anyway, I failed.

  2. foodnearsnellville

    In my opinion, Nakato’s strengths are their one pot dishes, things like shabu-shabu, yosenabe, and sukiyaki. Grading Nakato on their sushi alone misses what they do best.

    FnS.

    • I’ll have to try some of those dishes, but they shouldn’t be serving sushi at a poor quality just because other stuff is good. I have had good sushi there in the past, just not consistently.

  3. foodnearsnellville

    A Green, the problem with tuna sushi is that bluefin tuna is about to go extinct. No one in Atlanta is getting good tuna except on an ad hoc basis. Check out Taka’s blog, Sushi and Passion, sometime. Taka is a local sushi chef and restaurant owner. Getting good tuna is so hard he talks about it on his blog constantly.

    This idea, that you can judge restaurants in these times by the quality of their tuna sushi, is disturbing.

    • @snellville: I checked out his blog and I see where you are coming from, but why serve low-quality fish if you have to justify it with extinction? Why not remove it from the menu, or look elsewhere, or find substitutes. Like a salmon tartar instead of a tuna or a spicy yellowtail roll instead of spicy tuna, etc…..

  4. foodnearsnellville

    A Green,

    All good points. I’d prefer a more modest and sustainable fish than serving a poor quality but vanishing species.

    FnS.

  5. Thank you, Octosquid! For the comments, trying our specials on the menu, etc. The chef on the left side of the sushi bar, facing the sushi bar, is Kaki. He’s a third generation sushi chef from Tokyo we recruited. The veiny tuna is a problem… hopefully that will not be a problem on your next visit.

    Tuna is a great fish, but perhaps getting away from the generic fish, like the Tuna, yellowtail, and salmon, and getting into the fresh (by fresh I mean not frozen) small varieties of fish flown in biweekly may be a solution. A big fish like the Tuna will inevitably have bigger veins.

    It is still not an excuse for your poor experience with our tuna… so I would love for you to try it again on my tab.

    Domo Arigato!!

    P.S.> Fresh Fish Delivery updates on twitter.com/NakatoAtlanta

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