February 28, 2004 3:00 AM | By Adam Roberts | 3 Comments


In Gourmet Magazine earlier this year there was a supplement listing the hottest and best restaurants in every city. When I finally got to the Atlanta section, I was surprised to see--sandwiched between the Ritz Carlton and Seeger's--a restaurant Lauren often waxed lyrical about: MFSushi.

"It's the best sushi ever," Lauren would say. "It's amazing. Like nothing you've ever had."

This always seemed suspicious to me. Sushi is sushi. All raw fish tastes the same.

So tonight, when my friend Jimmy and I were making plans he said he was in the mood for sushi and I said: "How about MFSushi?"

Jimmy paused and said: "Yes, actually, that's a good idea."

Usually, sushi-goers in my circle of friends will sushi-go at RuSan's, a perfectly respectable sushi joint with locations in Midtown and Buckhead. But tonight was special. Tonight we would eat the best of the best. I made the reservation for 8:30 and began my preparations. These entailed belting "Old Man River" at my piano and eating some Blackout guacamole.

Finally, the witching hour arrives. I drive down Ponce until I see the awning I have driven past so many times. I turn left and encounter a mess of a valet parking situation. I sit in the car for 10 minutes before someone finally takes my keys. (*As an interesting side bar, I have a weird thing where before the valet gets in my car I turn my CD off or put on the radio so they don't judge my taste in music. You'd do the same thing if you had my taste in music.)

Walking up to the restaurant, I snap picture of the awning:


I sneak in the door and Jimmy is waiting inside.

"Were you waiting long?" I ask.

"No," he answers. "But good thing you made a reservation. There's an hour and a half wait!"

The hostesss leads us to our table. Here's what the place looks like:


As you can see, the interior is very fashionable. Atlanta's crem-de-crem are noshing on raw fish, and Jimmy and I fit right in.

Well, maybe we don't fit right in, but we scrape by under the radar. The menus are brought and we begin our gameplanning.


"Do you want to get two rolls each and share them?" asks Jimmy.

I find this plan rather worrisome since what if I don't like what he orders? So I ask the waitress for advice.

"Well," she says kindly, "I suggest that you order two rolls each and share them!"

"Brilliant!" I say.

Jimmy shakes his head.

So Jimmy orders the crunchy roll and the rainbow roll. I order the shrimp tempura roll and the tuna roll. But first, we order a ginger salad.


I really like ginger salad. Or ginger salad dressing. When my friend Dana and I went to NYU for a summer, we were obsessed with the ginger-carrot dressing at this place called DoJo. So tonight, I really enjoyed my ginger salad.

"This is a good ginger salad," says Jimmy.

The salads are taken away. Time passes. I think too much time passes.

"It's been a while," I say.

"No it hasn't," says Jimmy, pointing out that the people next to us, who just got their food, had been there before us. Before I can refute him, our food is brought.

Here is mine:


Here is Jimmy's:


The verdict?

"This is really good sushi," I say.

"Yes," Jimmy agrees.

We scarf down 8 rolls from our plates and then swap.

"This is really good sushi," I say, eating from Jimmy's plate.

"Yes," Jimmy agrees, eating from mine.

The sushi is gone.

Was this the best sushi of my life? Yes, most certainly yes.

But, to be honest, after tonight I realize that I'm not so much a sushi person. I like eating it, but I would never go out of my way to eat it. And I would never pay an exorbitant amount of money for the world's best sushi. I'd rather have a really good steak.

The waitress, reading over my shoulder, begins to cry.

"There there, sushi waitress," I say. "I didn't mean it in a mean way."

She scurries off with our credit cards.

"That was a good meal," says Jimmy.

"Yes," I say.

I stare at the empty plate.

"It certainly was."***

*** Please forgive this strange ending. It is 3 AM and I have no idea how to end this. Thank you.


There is no such thing as "sushi is sushi." There are big differences in the quality. Mmmm, try sea urchin sushi - that'll change your mind about steaks.

PS Do you know that posters have to put their email addresses here? It won't let you post without one.

Fine looking sushi. Sake makes time go away and overpriced sushi worth the wait.

Uni is a challenge for some, no doubt, but if you want to "climb Mount Fuji" of sushi you must have natto. Pronounced "Not-toe" it smells like it is toe.

Natto virgins should get some scallions and hamachi cut in the mix so you avoid the mad dash for the saki dispenser. I like it with the quail egg yoke on top.

Well, I was introduced to this site through your Blais review, and have been attempting to make my way back through your archives. I have no idea if you will ever even read this....but here goes.

This is the sushi timeline of the Baber family:
Growing up in Atlanta, my loving parents taught me to enjoy sushi at an early age at the (at the time) far away Hasaguchi restaurant. We then moved to Hasaguchi Junior, when I arrived at Lenox and stayed there for a while.

After Hasaguchi we spent a decent amount of time patronizing RuSans, but found it lacking. (I was quite the fan of the flaming, crispy, sickly sweet tempura ice cream, however.)

After a damned decent Harada moved in basically across the street from our house on Peachtree, that became our quick sushi fix, which we obviously needed at least 3 times a month.

A co-worker of my father happened to mention to him Soto, a sushi restaurant in Buckhead that he said was his favorite, and recommended we try it.

Now, Soto was an intimidating place. It was not tremendously more expensive, probably the difference between going to, say...well I cant think of a good example, but it was maybe $15 more per person. (Let me say that whem my family eats sushi, we eat a LOT of sushi, so $15 more per person wasnt that much.) We have gone to Soto so many times now, that we actually have our own waiter, Ferdy. He knows all of our tastes, recommends specials with an unnerving knack, and even gives us all the latest gossip.

Anyway, heres the deal at Soto: not only is it by far the best sushi I have ever had, it is also the best Japanese food I have ever had. Soto has a full menu of appetizers and entrees that are just as good, if not better than the sushi that they serve.

Let me start by talking about the sushi. Since just about anyone with money can buy the highest quality fish available, that was not what made it great. What made it great was the fact that he imported the most perfect sushi rice from Japan, and cooked in absolutely perfectly every time. In addition to being cooking perfectly (so that it broke apart just as you put it in your mouth, while each grain retained its perfectly cooked doneness), it was also served at the perfect temperature.

Sushi rice should be neither cold nor hot at all. It should be perfectly room temperature, or, more accurately, "hand temperature." Soto and his two sous chefs were masters of this. One interesting thing to note about Soto is that if Sotohirosan is not there, the restaurant is not open. Soto does all the special sushi plates, one of his chefs does all the nigiri, and the other does all the rolls. Once, we showed up to for dinner and there was a small sign on the door:


This dedication absolutely shows through in his food.

Now on to the rest of the menu. Sotohirosan has created one of the most perfect dishes that I have memory of: ceviche of salmon. Now I know, you're saying to yourself, "but Andrew, ceviche is South American, not Japanese!" Cool your pants, hotshot. When I said that it was the best Japanese food I've ever had, I didn't say that it didn't take influence from anywhere else. What is bascially is, is Salmon Sashimi with a very light lime marinade. When my family goes, we without fail always order two of them, and greedily hoard our portion, inluding the small shaved cucumber that nearly always disappears while your eyes are closed in extacy.

Now that I have you thinking that you must absolutely try this new restaurant, I have a confession to make. This entire review is one great big tease. Soto has been closed for about 8 months now, due to the temporary loss of, shal we say, "edge" by Sotohirosan. Evidently one night (and this is second hand information, so we're going to call it a rumor...I really don't want an angry Sotohirosan on a plane to Boston, knive in hand, looking to turn me into a tasty ceviche.)...I was saying...Evidently one night, he informed his staff that they would be "Closing in two weeks."

About a week later, evidently (

Anyways, their voicemail has been saying that they are "closed for renovations" and will be "open again in March." Well, it said January in December, February in January, etc, but Ferdy says they will actually be opening again soon.

I plan to write up my reviews of our two current favorite places (MF and Taka, where Ferdy works) in lieu of Soto when I wake up tomorrow, but dont have the energy now.

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