feeding the SOUL... with A Delicious CUlture A Tatami Room Experience at Nakato Japanese Restaurant

They say you eat with your eyes first. I would typically tend to agree with this statement. But. Have you ever had a dining experience where you enjoyed the meal with your heart first? It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it is quite an evening to remember.

"Nakato Japanese Restaurant is an authentic Japanese family owned restaurant serving dinner-both traditional and hibachi/teppanyaki style favorites, along with the freshest selection of sushi in Atlanta.We have a unique ability to provide a fine dining experience as well as a great group dining atmosphere in our high energy hibachi area.Please join us to enjoy the Nakato tradition, in Atlanta since 1972."
Traditional Japanese Dinner in the Tatami Room at Nakato

Nakato Japanese Restaurant recently held a traditional Japanese dinner in their Tatami room. I was so honored to be a guest for this exquisitely unique experience.

A Tatami Room is a traditional Japanese tea room and it is unlike any other dining experience in Atlanta.

Beautiful Table Display

Owner and general manager, Sachiyo "Sachi" Nakato Takahara, granddaughter to restaurant founder Tetsuko Nakato, greeted us by sharing the fascinating history of Nakato.

"Sachi" Nakato Takahara, Nikka Shae (Oh Nikka) & Shannon Marsh (Happily Edible After) enjoy a delicious shiso shochu aperitif
Nakato has many special tea rooms that can be reserved for special occasions, for business or pleasure.

Tetsuko Nakato dove into the restaurant industry shortly after arriving in America in 1972. She was 65 years old and spoke no English. It wasn't long before her dedication and perseverance paid off. Nakato soon became a thriving business and Tetsuko became a well respected restaurateur in the Atlanta market.

Beautiful, Traditional Decor Fills the Tatami Rooms

Our party was led through the expansive restaurant to the Tatami rooms. Nakato has four unique dining experiences including the hibatchi teppanyaki grills, the sushi bar and the traditional restaurant serving a complete, authentic Japanese menu. Nakato also offers classes in traditional teas as well as the art of flower arranging.

The Tatami room experience is beyond anything you can imagine. It's a wonderful journey in Japanese culture. When entering the room we were asked to remove our shoes. I was wearing espadrille heels and was fairly thrilled with the request. We were seated on the floor on ultra comfortable seats and cushions. The atmosphere was reminiscent of a relaxing spa day, but with exceptional food and drink.

Our Menu for the Evening

Upon being seated we were poured a glass of Japanese Sapporo beer. In Japanese culture it's considered unlucky to pour your own beer, so it was poured for us.

Shiso Shochu Aperitif

Our first taste of Nakato's grand menu was an aperitif of shiso shochu served in beautiful blue and gold glasses. The shiso shochu was accented with shimmering gold flecks in the beverage and was divinely delicious.

King Crab Salad with Apple Vinegar

Next came a gorgeous glass filled with king crab salad with apple vinegar. The glass noodles provided a delicate base that highlighted the tartness of the vinegar and sweetness of the crab.

Such a Stunning Presentation
Japanese Saki

The crab salad was served with a taste of traditional Japanese saki.

Nakato's Five Point Appetizer

Following the king crab salad, each guest was presented a spectacular five point appetizer which included "miso" grilled black cod, slow cooked "tsubugai" sea whelk, salmon terrine, fried "kawaebi" river shrimp and "sera mame" broad bean. There is not an adequate definition of delicious in existence that comes close to describing this offering.

"Miso" Grilled Black Cod
Salmon Terrine & Slow Cooked "Tsubugai" Sea Whelk
Fried "Kawaebi" River Shrimp & "Sera Mame" Broad Bean
Immaculate Presentation
Nakato's Three Point Sashimi Plate

The next course from Chef Kinjo was an impressive three point sashimi plate that featured "madai" Japanese snapper, "toro" marbled tuna and "isaki" grunt fish. There is no comparison to the quality of ingredients and fresh flavors in this dish.

Simply Stunning
An Incredible Amount of Detail in Each Dish
Superior Creaminess

Following the heavenly sashimi was a decadent, traditional savory custard "chawanmushi". Imagine a spoonful of pure spun silk in every spoonful and you'd have this dish. The texture was only surpassed by the taste.

Japanese Comfort Food At It's Finest
Miso Grilled Eggplant

As we were finishing our custard and enjoying fantastic conversation, we were served a trio of family style Japanese plates. This first dish was a delicious miso grilled eggplant. Boasting the perfect amount of sweetness to salty, this was a wonderfully unique way to prepare eggplant. I may have enjoyed two of these. Perhaps...three.

A delicious & Unique Way to Prepare Eggplant

The second family style offering was a huge plate of assorted tempura. Tempura is a Japanese dish of fish, shellfish, or vegetables, fried in batter. Shrimp, scallops, crab and an assortment of vegetables were perfectly prepared and served to our party with a divine matcha salt.

Tempura Battered Foods are Light & Crunchy
The Tempura Shrimp was Delightful
Fun & Whimsical Presentation of the Yakitori" Skewers

The third family style plate was "Yakitori" skewers with sea salt & a teriyaki glaze. Some were also accompanied by lemongrass and fresh lemon wedges.

Moist & Delicious
The various creative plating for each dish was as fun as the meal.
Array of Fresh Sushi

After all of the amazing offerings from Chef Kinjo, and each superb in taste, quality and presentation, he served the crown jewel of Nakato; a vast array of freshly rolled sushi accented with short neck clam miso soup.

This is the point in the meal where you place a piece in your mouth, close your eyes and enjoy the bursts of freshness and flavor with every single bite.

There isn't a more stunning presentation in all the food world that can rival that of a tray of perfectly rolled, straight from the sea fresh sushi. I thoroughly enjoyed every...single...bite.

Just when we thought we couldn't possibly take another single bite, Chef Kinjo sends green tea panna cotta with bean paste, fresh cherries and mint with a balsamic reduction. I can't even begin to describe the immaculate flavors of this dish with yet another stellar presentation.

Owner and GM Sachiyo "Sachi" Nakato Takahara, Executive Chef Yoshifusa Kinjo & Me

Nakato, Chef Kinjo and Sachi, you completely outdid yourselves. Each and every dish was designed to fulfill the eyes, palate and spirit from the unique ingredient preparation, to the immaculate flavors to the stunning presentations. This wasn't just a meal, it was a true extraordinary experience not only in food, but in a rich history and culture. It was brilliant. Thank you doesn't come close to how appreciative I am for this experience with you, but thank you. Thank you for sharing your food, your culture, the memory of your amazing grandmother, your time, your history, your stories and your restaurant. From the bottom of my heart (and tummy)...thank you.

For more information on Nakato including location, hours of operation and information on reserving a Tatami Room, please visit their website below. I give you my word it will be one of the most special experiences you will ever have dining in Atlanta.

We would like to thank Nakato Japanese Restaurant, Chef Yoshifusa Kinjo and General Manager Sachiyo "Sachi" Nakato Takahara, for an absolutely stellar, memorable experience. We would also like to thank our readers for allowing us to share our thoughts and opinions on these complimentary tasting experiences and products with you. Thank you for your confidence in us and thank you in advance for visiting and supporting these businesses. For more from the Front Porch Gourmet, we welcome you to visit our website.

Credits:

Photos by The Front Porch Gourmet

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