Search This Blog

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Break from the Kitchen: Shoya Izakaya

Avoid the temptation to hit this just to see if it works.
by Mango and Panda


Wednesday evening was a pretty long day at work for the both of us, and we really weren't in the mood to cook. Panda offered to make some stew with leftover frozen brisket. I offered to take Panda for dinner instead. Because even endangered species need a break from the kitchen. Since we were in the mood for something stew-y or soup-y, we went to Shoya Izakaya. Quite possibly, the best Japanese restaurant in Atlanta. And the best part is that it's just 10 minutes away from us. It's very unassuming on the outside - it sits in an almost-empty strip mall near H-mart, so after we eat we usually waddle over to H-mart to get Korean fare or just walk around (Panda really loves walking around in grocery stores and markets). On the inside, Shoya is so cozy. Wood paneling, simple layout.

And the food is just as simple. Clean, crisp and pure so that you can really taste and appreciate the core ingredients. With most Indian food - there's an explosion of flavor (no doubt), but the main ingredients, be it fish, pork or chicken, can sometimes get lost in it all. There's actually a pretty neat article about this by Sanjeev Kapoor, an Indian chef I grew up watching on Khana Khazana (Zee TV shout out to my Indian peeps! haha). Check out the article if you have the chance.

Anyhooo, when at Shoya, I always order the marinated salmon. It's buttery melt-in-your mouth salmon sashimi that's rolled around julienned cucumber, marinated in olive oil (not sesame, although there's something else in there that I can't put my finger on) and other magical ingredients. It's served with seaweed and other types of sea-fare and veggies that I can't always identify. Amazing every time.

As my main dish, I ordered the nabeyaki udon, which is fish broth served in a hot pot with tempura shrimp, scallion, greens, mushrooms, fried bean curd, fish cakes, and my favorite, FAVORITE part: a poached egg.

SO GOOD. Panda, you concur?


Yes, I concur.  Poached eggs make anything better.  Much like bacon.  Adding both bacon and a poached egg to anything is like cheating.

I was pretty hungry, having worked out a little earlier.  Moreover, I was seriously thirsty.  A Kirin Ichiban quenched my thirst quite nicely, and really does go well with Japanese fare.  A little trivia - A kirin is a mythological Japanese creature, also known as a dragon horse.  I don't know what that has to do with beer... maybe if you drink enough of it you see one.

Check out the cool cup the Kirin came in.  All of their dishes and cups are  really cool.
I also noticed a special of grilled tako, and whenever I see tako available I always get it.  Tako is Japanese for "octopus".  I know some of you may think that octopus sounds gross, but, if you've ever had calamari (squid) and enjoyed it, I'm positive you would love octopus.  Octopus is like squid, but meatier, almost steaky in texture, with a pleasant flavor. Get out of your comfort zone and give it a try.

For my main course, I got the tonkatsu ramen.  Tonkatsu broth is made from pork bones, typically the bones from trotters.  Unlike European style stocks, tonkatsu broth is made by splitting the bones and boiling them at a higher temperature.  The marrow in the bones melts into the stock, becoming part of it.  The result is a rich, creamy broth with a ton of flavor.  I plan on trying to make some soon.  While I will say that I think Raku in Duluth may have better tonkatsu, Shoya's is a very, very close second.

Tonkatsu ramen with roast pork, soy marinated egg, and other goodies .  The broth  is creamy looking; you'd think they put milk in it, but that's just from pork bones.
A panda with a full belly is a very happy Panda.  Thank you Mango. :)

Mango: Why are eggs so delicious?
Panda: I know, right?  Pretty tasty for something that comes out of a chicken's butt.


  1. In my head I imagine Po from Kung Fu Panda sitting across and conversing with a beautiful mango while out enjoying dinner...

    Another extremely well written post. My favorite part is how you both play off of one another. And then of course there was this gem, "A little trivia - A kirin is a mythological Japanese creature, also known as a dragon horse. I don't know what that has to do with beer... maybe if you drink enough of it you see one."

    1. Thanks! This is our first co-authored blog post. It was fun to do, and I think we'll make it a regular thing.

      Hopefully people don't take these types of posts as reviews. I would rather leave that to folks who have been doing it for a while and know what they're doing. It's more just to let people know about a place we really like so that they can try it too.

    2. Thank you! And yes, I agree with Panda! Our aim isn't to tell people what to cook or eat, we just enjoy sharing our experiences with food. I personally know nuthin' 'bout nuthin' when it comes to professional cooking, but it's fun to experiment and if it works out, even better!

  2. You two are just too darn cute! This is a very fun blog, lighthearted, informative, amusing and who doesn't love to ogle food?

  3. Catching up on the blogs..sounds amazing!! I think the logical next step for you two would be a cookbook collaboration!! Keep up the research, kids!!