Shoya Izakaya: Doraville, GA, USA
One of my Hopkins friends was in town training with EY. Originally from Japan but Persian, I wanted to take her somewhere to get some decently authentic Japanese food but wasn’t too far from her training site. In addition, another classmate of ours was also in the city training at the CDC in an internship. It was a great opportunity to introduce them both to one of my favorite Izakayas in the city. The food we selected were mainly vegetarian for one of my peers, but it allowed us to try different dishes here for this round at Shoya:
- gindara (black cod)
- oyster mushroom skewers
- purple yam tempura
- renkon (lotus root) chips
- seared mushroom bake
- shisamo (smelt fish)
- yaki onigiri (panfried/grilled rice balls)
Gindara (Black Cod): I really like cod to begin with, and I love the Japanese way of cooking it. It’s simple method allows the full flavor of the cod to come through and yet the slight addition of sea salt gives it a nice little edge of flavor.
- good quantity: we shared only between two people so it was great
- good flavor, not overly burnt
- not overcooked: it is really easy to over cook the fish where it becomes really dry. Shoya does a really nice job.
- some parts were a tad bit saltier than others. Perhaps they used coarse sea salt instead of fine sea salt? Or perhaps it was just my bite?
- A bit small to share, maybe between two but if you both like black cod, this may not be enough!
Oyster Mushroom Skewers: seared with terriyaki dipping sauce. Oyster mushrooms are probably one of the meatier mushrooms. They definitely have a stronger flavor than beech mushrooms which are my favorite.
- generous with skewer amount
- not burnt or charred
- I’d like to try the top part of the mushroom. It may be harder to skewer but just eating the stems doesn’t give too much variety to the dish.
Purple Yam Tempura: this type of yam is specifically Japanese. It’s much sweeter than the Korean sweet potato and slightly softer. In addition, it is less stringy in terms of fiber. I actually prefer this over the Korean sweet potato but it is hard to find at the H-mart here, and I’ve never had it in tempura form
- fantastic quantity: they were really generous with this portion. These type of yams are also more expensive than the other sweet potatoes and yams so this was a nice treat
- not overly greasy given how thinly-sliced the purple yam was
Renkon (Lotus root) Chips: this is a very common root for Asian cuisine. Most of the time, Chinese cuisine will utilize it in a soup so this was a nice change to try it in an appetizer form.
- good amount of lotus root
- nice flavor: not overly seasoned, slightly spicy but more tangy-sweet than anything else.
- still retains the crunch of the lotus root while marinating just long enough for the flavor to get into the slices.
Mushroom Cheese Bake: this was an interesting dish. Almost like an oyster rockefeller, this dish had a variety of mushrooms served in a casserole dish and then baked in an oven with a nice portion of cheese on top.
- generous with the cheese: this gives a nice portion of dairy with every scoop or bite of mushroom
- good flavors and variety when ordered with other healthier dishes
- a bit salty for my taste. I cannot place my finger on the sauce that was used for the bake, perhaps it is ponzu and soy combination but there wasn’t enough water coming out from the mushrooms to dilute what was used for flavor.
Shisamo (Smelt Fish with Roe): this is by far one of my favorite dishes to order at an izakaya. I really love cooked fish roe, especially if it’s on the grill.
- not burnt: I’ve yet to have Shoya disappoint me with this dish
- roe in every fish: believe it or not, I have been served this dish with some fish not having roe. The roe is the most important part!
- while I suppose 4 pieces of Shisamo is a decent amount, I feel like 5 would be better, especially if this dish were to be shared.
Yaki Onigiri: grilled riceballs. Onigiri can be stuffed with different fillings such as tuna, pickles, or seasoned seaweed (hijiki). Also, they can be made plain and eaten by themselves or with rice seasoning. I personally like the fish, especially if it is smoked salmon, or the hijiki filling.
- very filling, mostly because it is rice
- the grilling process gives the rice that nice slightly toasty, almost burnt flavor.
- large portion for one person, will definitely start someone on the way to being full faster if split between two people.
As usual, Shoya did not disappoint me nor my friends. All in all our summary is as follows:
- gindara (black cod): **** (4 stars)
- oyster mushroom skewers: ***.5 (3.5 stars)
- purple yam tempura: ***.75 (3.75 stars)
- renkon (lotus root) chips: ***.75 (3.75 stars)
- seared mushroom bake: *** (3 stars)
- shisamo (smelt fish): ***.75 (3.75 stars)
- yaki onigiri (panfried/grilled rice balls): ***.5 (3.5 stars)
Shoya can be found near the Brands Mart shopping center near Doraville, just off Highway 141. It’s the last store on the strip mall closest to the Brands Mart. They only take reservations for more than 4 people, and it gets packed on the weekends. Definitely give it a try if you have a car and are visiting Atlanta!
Peachtree Pavilion, 6035 Peachtree Rd A101, Atlanta, GA 30360