Tokyo Shokudo: Duluth, GA, USA
This is the closest yet sincerely authentic Japanese restaurant near my house in Duluth, GA, USA. Ran by a solo Japanese couple, it may run a little bit pricier than other establishments, but their food is legitimate and has a bit more of that homemade flavor to it. It is still distinctively Japanese, and maybe it is knowing that the wife is back there by herself making the hot dishes while her husband mans the sushi bar, but it has become one of my favorite places to go to for Japanese food.
There is only one waitress, so if you go, you cannot be in a rush, especially if there is a full house. One cook, one sushi chef, and one waitress. It makes me sad to see these poor reviews on Yelp because I have only had great experiences with this place. You wouldn’t expect rush service with this kind of staff especially after seeing how small the space is. There are at most ten tables, each sitting a max of four, maybe five people. Then there is the bar which seats maybe at most five to six people. I remember a review specifically degrading the restaurant for not having had all the eight rolls they ordered at once for a group of ten people with a full house that night. In addition, they were also in a rush. Can you not be any more rude and selfish? This is not McDonald’s or Kroger where you can pick up sushi by the box and go. Sushi is an art.
However, I digress. My parents and I were introduced to this small quaint place by some church friends and we have been here so many times that we are “regulars”. We are so “regular” that my mom chats with the owners’ children in the corner. That’s how mom-and-pop this place is. Most of the time when we come here for dinner, we get their Bento Box C. However, I had gone to this place for lunch on National Tempura day and ordered tempura udon instead. Therefore, this post will have frequent “visitations” with updates on other dishes that we order, including their sushi and be categorized under “series” for more tasting reviews.
The size of the udon is not the largest that I have seen. It is comparable to those served at Shoya Izakaya, but smaller than the ones at Umaido. However, it is perfect for a light eater. There could be one more piece of shrimp tempura and one additional piece of vegetable tempura, especially for the lunch price of $7.50. However, the amount, surprisingly was enough for the amount of udon and soup that was given. The soup did not taste like it had MSG as I had made a similar soup at home myself with benito flakes. That was my favorite part. It tastes like something you would find at someone’s home. I plan on returning and getting their tonkatsu ramen. One thing to note: the noodle dishes are only served for lunch and are much smaller portions than the dinner entrees. I am lucky enough where the owner will make it on request for me because we’ve literally been almost once every two weeks if not every week.
I also got an order of tamago (egg) sashimi and toro (fatty tuna) sashimi. Now I am going to warn you but their prices for sushi and sashimi are relatively more expensive than most place. Sashimi is 3 pieces, no rice. The tamago sashimi was $6.25 for 3 pieces, and the toro was $10 for 3 pieces. I find however though, that the quality is slightly better. The toro was not fishy at all, and it did melt in my mouth like toro should. In addition, it did not taste too cold like a lot of sushi places will serve it. It tastes like raw fish, as if the fish was caught and gutted there. The tamago was not overly sweet like it is in some places. Although if you’re the type of eater who is looking for that sweet spot of egg to serve as your “dessert sushi”, this might not be sweet enough.
As for their sushi rice, I’ve read reviews where it was hard. But sushi rice is supposed to be hard! It’s not supposed to be soft and fluffy and essentially overcooked. It takes a lot of training actually to make accurate sushi rice. I find that a lot of the people who complain and are just “ordinary” people (as in not a chef, sushi chef, food expert, etc.) usually have been accustomed to a certain form of food being served to them. If you follow the movie “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, it shows how much training and dedication is actually required to do Michelin 3-star grade sushi. That is just of course, my two cents.
My friends and I once attempted last year to have a sushi night and make our own sushi: specifically toro, tamago, and unagi (bbq eel). The eel was very easy to make as all we had to do was stick it in the toaster oven. The tamago was a different story. It is incredibly hard to “roll” a thin layer of scrambled egg over and over in a long roll, even with the specific pan we had purchased from amazon. The taste was perfect as we followed a recipe. However, there were definitely a few ugly batches and a few slightly burnt or brown batches. Even though it is simply an egg concoction, I have mad respect for those who are able to do it proficiently, such as those in sushi restaurants.
I have to say though, a lot of the complaints probably stem from that sense of entitlement that runs this country to the ground. I remember when we first moved to Georgia, and it was impossible to find Japanese food, much less good Japanese food. Hell, it was at least a thirty to forty minute drive for mediocre chinese food, and there was already an established population of Chinese and Taiwanese people living in the city suburbs. That being said, until I actually have tasted something truly dismal from this establishment, I will continue to support this small store. They treat their regulars really well, sometimes even giving things on the house. But on top of it all, they work really hard to try and please everyone that walks in their door, and they are good people.
All in all, today’s summary is as follows:
- tempura udon: ***.75 (3.75 stars)
- toro: **** (4 stars)
- tamago: **** (4 stars)
If you want to check out Tokyo Shokudo for yourself, you can find them at the following address:3631 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096 (770) 622-1116