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Gifted Gourmet

Soto in Atlanta: newest prix fixe tasting menu

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As I was reading the local media for the Southeastern Digest, I read about the reopening of the very spectacular Soto here in Atlanta. Cliff Bostock's Creative Loafing review is here:

Soto(link out of date 3/28/05) :sad:

The quality of the nigiri is always exceptional and, besides the clams, we order an assortment of 12 pieces with a tuna roll. Keep your use of soy sauce and wasabi light here; you want to move each bite about your palate to explore the texture and flavors, the oceanic essence.

That experience becomes breathtaking when you order specials. Look around the bar and watch and listen to people as they experience these. You get a mixture of smiles and astonishment.. Chunks of sweet lobster, a generous portion, were contained by a circle of thinly sliced lotus roots, garnished with wasabi-tinged flying fish roe and served over fluffy uni, surely one of God's own favorite foods. The dish was lightly dressed with truffle-soy sauce, which figures in many of Soto's specials.

My question to those of you who were fans of Soto before it was revamped is simply this: what sets this exquisite sushi restaurant apart from all the rest? There are a number of eG posters who live in Atlanta and its environs, as well as those of you who may have been to Soto on a visit, as a friend of mine from SF recently was. Opinions?


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Thanks for this, GG. This is terrific news. Not for me, so much, because I don't eat a lot of sushi. I thank you on behalf of my sushi-loving visitors. I used to send them to Soto, and I never got a bad report -- quite the opposite, and many of these were people who frequented the best in LA, Seattle, NYC, Tokyo and Australia.

Sorry, I can't answer your question, though.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I was a Soto's last night. Divine. More later.


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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I'm planning on writing a long'ish review of Soto, stay tuned!


Isaac Bentley

Without the culinary arts, the crudeness of the world would be unbearable. - Kate & Leopold

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We are all looking forward to sharing your impressions of Soto, hearing about what you ate, and reveling in your descriptions, gentlemen! :biggrin:

the anticipation is delicious, in and of itself! :smile:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Ah well, since I’ve been back to California, I’ve been absolutely swamped with work. But here are my experiences @ Soto:

Having been introduced to Japanese and Japanese fusion at the famed Nobu in tribeca, I have a hard time with the whole "sushi" thing. First of all, you can have your vingered rice; just stuff my face with the damn fish I say. Having my best friend being a total nut about Asian and specifically a fish fetish quirk about her, it gives me a greater appreciation of the art of preparation of fish. Not to mention the countless hours of Iron Chef, allez cuisine!

My fellow travel partner and foodie went with me to Soto after hearing so many great recommendations from people on eG and AC. I think I should debunk some of the things I've heard.

1. It's really pricey

Umm, what the hell did they order? Maybe I didn't see that "Kobe tuna, feed with beer and massaged by 20 virgins" on the menu. Maybe the sake was clouding my mind but our meal was roughly $100 USD. That’s a bottle of sake, two appetizers and sashimi omakasa for two. Damn fine price I say.

2. It's better then Nobu

Eh? Please, take away the drugs from that person! He's dangerous to socity. Nobu isn't a "sushi" restaurant, what they are known for and what they do best is fusion, combining Japanese cuisine with other worldly sensibilities. Honestly, you can get great sushi anywhere. Just don't be comparing two completely unrelated things. Or we can meet out back and settle this like men (or women, just gotta wait till my nails are done)

3. I'm gay

No, really, I’m not.

Ok, enough of that, the real review begins now:

On Saturday, met up with Tammy (yay!) and went to Soto. Craziness, I would -never- think going to a Kroger’s strip mall would house such a great meal. The wait staff was lacking and the astmosphere was quite cold but watching Soto-san preparing the fish over-rode any of the negativity. They were short-staffed that night so they recommended that we order food from the back rather then have Soto prepare (because the wait would be long).

We decided to get two appetizers and order the sashimi omakasa and to wash it all down, cold sake (but I really wanted warm sake but alas, they only had crappy warm sake) Tammy had a langistine (a large pawn type of shelled fish) with an Asian mayo dressing on top. It reminded me of a lot like "ranch" salad dressing but it was quite good. The sweet taste of the fish offset the onion flavors. I had an awesome three layer lobster dish. Lobster, lotus root, some sort of fish row and hell if I can remember but it was perfect. Not as good as the review GG quoted but it was very remarkable.

By this time we where happy from all the sake. We asked for water but the waiter never came, only after we were about to leave had he remembered. Anyways, happy Tammy and happy Isaac waited for our sashimi. We supposed to of had two separate plates (we are pigs) but the waiter messed up on that and gave us one large plate. It was still more then enough food, but eh, Tammy and I don't like to share our sashimi very well :wink: few minutes later, all 10 types of fish, vanished. I think gnomes stole our fish damnit. I'm so gonna kill the lil' buggers.

I think that the Soto is the master of his domain but come with the mindset of enjoying the food and ignore if any conceptions that you may have. Food snobs have no place hanging around foodies :wink:

Tammy found another place that you may like if you dig Soto. Read about it here.


Edited by Painting (log)

Isaac Bentley

Without the culinary arts, the crudeness of the world would be unbearable. - Kate & Leopold

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It's pricey compared to RuSan's all you can eat catfood... but for good sushi it's not that expensive (unless you're a bottomless pit). $15 for the lobster with uni mousse, which contained quite a bit of lobster (yum), a little less for the langostine, $45 for the sashimi omakase (which we asked for 2 and only got 1). The omakase platter had (counting) 3 pieces each of mauguro, chu-toro, o-toro, giant clam, squid with shiso, salmon (trying to remember), and hamachi i think.

We would have ordered more of the other stuff but the waiter never really came back. By the time he did, he wanted to give us the check, and we had already given up trying to get anything else. Next time I think I'll stick to my guns and order more anyways.

The quality was better than the few places I went to when I lived in the bay area, but I wasn't an adventurous eater out there (damn me). I think that was because the places I went in the bay were more casual and busy so they didn't always serve only the freshest (people want what they want when they want it and don't want to hear that it wasn't fresh enough to serve).

While it's really good fish and Soto-san is amazing to watch (his zen-like concentration is cool) I got the vibe that you're almost a burden being there (though, burden isn't really the correct word). Not because anyone is rude; it's tacit. Soto is also so into his craft, sitting at the bar, you almost feel bad wanting to make him make you more. It has to be draining. Plus most of the other people there dining there were the pushy type (ugh).

I mean, thank god the place is tiny and they don't really allow walk-ins because if they did I'd probably never go back because that vibe would be overwhelmingly strong. I will be back, of course. I just will take my time.

My favorite sushi place in Atlanta has to be Taka Sushi Cafe mostly because the fish is really fresh and it's fun eating there. I always enjoy myself immensely. Which a lot of the time is what dining out is about for me. There's the food and there's the atmosphere and if both aren't great what's the point? :biggrin:


Edited by tharrison (log)

"I like butter and the people who like butter." -TA

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Soto is about nothing but the sublime. Forget about service, in any traditional sense, forget about ambience, unless you're into zen like simplicity, forget about everything that is not about taste. Pure, simple sublime taste. What Matisse did with art, especially towards the end of his life, Soto does with food. Simple, focused strokes produce unimaginable flavors and taste sensations.

Soto begins with perfect ingredients, always, without exception. Nothing is pre-prepped. With the exception of some of the cooked dishes and a few of the rolls, Soto personally prepares everything. That explains the wait, unfortunately. From a food perspective, everything is there. Art and eye appeal, texture, temperature, scent and flavor.

His uni ika sugamori (sea urchin blanketed in squid sitting in a nest of seaweed on a shallow pool of ponzu like sauce) is transcendental. The intermingling of taste and texture sensations are unreal. Raw lobster sashimi with a teaspoon or so of golden, silky yuzu, white truffle infused sauce is etherial. Yikes, this is lobster! Paper thin slices of aji sashimi fanned across the plate, again with a light dressing of incredible depth that enhances rather than hides the flavor of the fish, is followed by another plate of barely-seared-on the outside red snapper that melts on the tongue. His simmered sea bass, two styles,is among the best fish dishes I ever had, rich and unctuous, again without masking the flavor of perfectly prepared fish.

Lest hyperbole fail me, I'll conclude this note by remarking that genius, at times, comes with a heavy price. Clearly nothing else at Soto's rises to simple beauty of the food, but, for some of us, that's what its all about.


Jay

You are what you eat.

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I wrote this review long ago, just after they closed:

--------------------

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. If not more. By the time I left for college, they had ordered each of us our own personalized set of lacquered chopsticks from Japan and we used them every time we went.

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 when my family eats sushi, we eat a LOT of sushi, so $15 more per person wasn’t 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. (The hostess can even recognize my father and my voice when we call)

Anyway, here’s 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:

"SOTO HAS GONE FISHING.

WILL RETURN IN ONE WEEK.

SORRY."

This dedication absolutely shows through in his food.

Now on to the rest of the menu. Sotohiro Kosugi 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 basically 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, including the small shaved cucumber that nearly always disappears while my parents eyes are closed in ecstasy.

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, shall we say, "edge" by Sotohiro. 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 Sotohiros on a plane to Boston, knife 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 (<- see? very vague!), during a busy night, a waiter returned a plate to Soto that had gone to the wrong table. I have been told that Soto grabbed the plate and viciously reprimanded the waiter in front of everyone, "I TOLD YOU table 3. I TOLD YOU table 3!!" I even heard rumors of plate smashing, and kitchen crashing, egads!

-------------------------

A new day! Soto reopens!

Well, let me say first that I have been absolutely spoiled by Ken Oringer's restaurant in Boston, Uni. I believe it is one of the best sashimi bars in the country, and I recommend it to everyone I meet.

So, I was sitting in my dorm room one night when I decided to make my weekly call to Soto to check on their re-opening progress. (Yes, I did call about once a week).

But this time, instead of the usual recording, someone picked up!! For the first time in 8 months!!! I nearly fell out of my chair, and by the time I had confirmed that they were opening the next night, I ended up running up and down the hall shouting gleefully. (When questioned about my happiness, I responded "My favorite sushi place in Atlanta reopened!!" I was met with dubious looks.)

Anyway, I was able to return to Soto at the beginning of summer break. The room had been re-arranged a bit (a few less tables), and the menu had been slightly cut back.

Nonetheless, it is still utterly amazing. The rice is still perfect, the composed plates are still outstanding.

To anyone who doesn't mind spending slight more on their sushi, please, take yourself to Soto.

(as a side note, Ferdy is not working there any more, but we're working on acquiring a new acquaintance).


Andrew Baber

True I got more fans than the average man but not enough loot to last me

to the end of the week, I live by the beat like you live check to check

If you don't move yo' feet then I don't eat, so we like neck to neck

A-T-L, Georgia, what we do for ya?

The Gentleman Gourmand

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Wow, thanks for the review, lots of infomantion about this great restaurant :-)


Isaac Bentley

Without the culinary arts, the crudeness of the world would be unbearable. - Kate & Leopold

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...as a side note, Ferdy is not working there any more...

Ferdy works for Taka now (who also used to work at Soto) and I totally concur that he is an awesome waiter.

If you like Soto and you haven't tried Taka Sushi Cafe, you should. It's much more casual and we always have a great time. It's on Pharr Road across from where the old Oxford Bookstore used to be...


"I like butter and the people who like butter." -TA

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Yeah, I forgot to include that part. While Soto was closed, we went to Taka a lot, and have been back a few times since Soto re-opened. Taka is definately in the top 3 Atlanta sushi places. Ferdy still isn't sure what hes doing, but hes probably going to stay with Taka.

(And for those of you not on Taka's mailing list, get on it. It's hilarious. Heres an example:

Taka sushi update April 13th 2004

1, Sake tasting & Lecture

  We are going to have Japanese Sake tasting & lecture on April 24 th Saturday 12pm-2pm.

You can taste more than 20 diffrent premium sake.

And learn about ginjyo, junmai, etc. Who teach? Taka does.

The fee is $30 per person.

2, Mother's Day

  Yes, May 9th is Mother's day. We open this Sunday.

Dinner only and 5-9pm.  Please come.

3, Live music at patio.

  We are thinking live music at patio. maybe around 13-14th. of May. This is free.

4, May 22nd  Cooking Class part2

  This time is something with Japanese mayonnaise.

  Like, Soba Salad, Baked Scallop, Okonomiyaki( Japanese Pizza)

The fee is  $20.00 per person

Taka Sushi  375 Pharr Rd. Atlanta GA 30305

404-869-2802

I love this part: "Who teach? Taka does."

I think I remember getting on the list just by emailing him. axistaka@msn.com


Andrew Baber

True I got more fans than the average man but not enough loot to last me

to the end of the week, I live by the beat like you live check to check

If you don't move yo' feet then I don't eat, so we like neck to neck

A-T-L, Georgia, what we do for ya?

The Gentleman Gourmand

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Soto reviewed in Creative Loafing this week!

Now you will more clearly see why the locals absolutely adore this man and his sushi! :biggrin:

Can food be considered art? It's a common debate .... when I finally rise from a meal here -- my senses tingling, my hunger profoundly sated, my jaded palate renewed -- and Soto looks up and bestows me with a grin of gratitude, I know with certainty I've been eating from the hands of an artist.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Soto-san has eliminated the a la carte menu and now only serves a single prix fixe menu consisting of a whopping seventeen courses. On different nights a meal can take between two and four hours to complete. If your jaw hasn't hit the floor yet imagine this: he's only charging seventy dollars a person for this rare experience and he does only twelve covers a night. Apparently finishing all seventeen courses requires a certain degree of heroism--maybe the portion size isn't quite right?

I haven't yet gotten to Soto's since the menu change but I sure intend to even though it will require a flight from NYC to Atlanta. If you are interested, run don't walk because he can't keep this madness up for long.


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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After reading Ned's excellent post on Soto, I went to look for some recent information on the chef and found this article:

article from Atlanta's Finest Dining

Surprisingly, Atlanta is home to one of the best Japanese chefs in America. At Soto Japanese Restaurant, chef Sotohiro Kosugi pushes the limits of traditional Japanese cuisine with artistic and tantalizing creations. In 1997, Food and Wine Magazine ranked chef Sotohiro Kosugi among its top twelve chefs, not just sushi chefs, but all chefs. That honor, the first received by any Japanese chef, vaulted Soto Japanese Restaurant into the limelight..... Try the Ika truffle. In this dish, thinly sliced squid and flying fish roe are served with a black truffle puree. Or, you can venture off and taste the delicate flavor of Uni ika sugomori zukuri, fresh sea urchin wrapped with a thin slice of sashimi squid.

John Kessler of the AJC raves as well ...

Slivered kelp-cured scallops with lemon mint. Red snapper seared to a char on one side and perfectly raw on the other. Clam julienne with sweet mustard miso dressing. Toro coated in a thick, sweet nuta sauce. Smoked uni rolled in powdered uni.  And hamachi, that had been cut into two little tiles, no bigger than sugar cubes. Soto had painstakingly scored each one with tiny crosshatches. I put one inside the piehole. It opened and swept across my tongue like the flagellae of some creature on the way to unseen depths.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Just returned from another mind boggling dining experience at Soto's. This time it was Soto's new prix fixe tasting menu. Twelve courses for $75 per person. Reservations have to be made at least 1 day in advance and he will accomodate up to 15 people per evening. During our evening, service was impeccable (people who are familiar with Soto may be surprised by this, though correcting the service problem was a major reason for the revamp) and it still required every bit of two hours to complete dinner. I'm told this was record time for completing the meal so plan accordingly.

The menu reflects everything that makes Soto the obsessive compulsive creative genius chef that he is. He agonizes over every detail of preparation including service. He closed the restaurant for 11 days so he could travel to Japan to shop for the perfect serving pieces for his new menu. The menu itself reflects every nuance of tradition that true Omikase implies; every style of preparation and every major taste category is represented both hot and cold. Soto orchestrates the presentation as an extraordinary symphony of taste texture and visual beauty. He overwhelms the senses.

As I wrote in a previous post, Soto is entirely about food. His singleminded preoccupation with quality ingredients is reflected in every dish. Much of the fish is hand picked by an agent at the tsukiji market in Tokyo. Therefore, even when a menu item appears by description to be relatively mundane, don't be fooled. Whatever it is, it is certain to be the epitome of its class.

Our menu began with a simple Sumashi Soup, dashi infused with yuzu and garnished with Mitsuba leaf, which was subtle and perfectly balanced. This was followed by Aori Ika Sohmen, an excellent squid finely sliced and served in a cool shiitake soy ginger broth that had great depth and richness and surprising heat from the ginger, without the ginger over shadowing the dish. Next came a Mousse of Yellow Pepper and Mussel Broth that amplified the sweetness of the sSeamed Lobster served with it and garnished with smelt roe. We were then presented with 3 Spoons each containing the inevitable taste surprise. One was a Julienne of Octopus with a vinaigrette of Asian pear puree and micro lemon mint. Another was Snow Crab with Nikogori Aspic and yuzu with a dab of tobiko and, saving the best for last, a beautifully delicate piece of Idaho "Kobe" Beef and Foie Gras splashed, table side, with a "Sukiyaki" broth. Next came the Flash Steamed Seafood with scallion and ginger oil which turned out to be Lobster, Red Snapper and Scallop each presented individually plated and each uniquely seasoned and garnished. We were next served Aji Tataki, sashimi style, accompanied by ginger soy sauce and sweet mustard miso and shaved ginger and scallion. After that, Miso Soup with Edged Perch and Shimeji mushroom and grated daikon. No sooner had we disposed of the soup when the Sashimi course arrived. When we were initially presented with the menu our server asked that we select three out of six choices for each the sashimi and sushi courses respectively. For my sashimi course I selected the kelp cured "Ara" or Japanese Edged Perch, the"Ishidai" or Japanese Striped Beak Perch and the seared Japanese Red Snapper.

The ensuing tempura dish was incredible. The tempura was Sweet Shrimp rolled in Flounder and White Kelp and garnished with Tempura Shiso Leaf and Shrimp Heads accompanied by a small bowl of Maccha Tea Salt. One of Soto"s specials followed (everything seemed special to me). You chose one of three. I had the Hamachi Tartare with Pine Nuts and Wasabi Tobiko served with Soy Sauce Foam and my wife had the Beef Tataki which was lightly seared Kobe Beef served with Ponzu and grated Daikon.

At this point we began showing fatigue but there was no let up in sight. The Sunomono course arrived. Mackeral with ginger, scallion, sesame seed, shiso and pickled burdock wrapped in vinegar marinated kelp and presented as a sculptered leaf, Seared Red Snapper with cucumber and wakame in light tosazu vinegar sauce and Hokki Clam with sesame and sweet mustard miso sauce. No sooner was this complete when the Broiled Chilean Seabass marinated in Saiko Miso arrived. After that a slight pause provided by a wonderfully refreshing Asian Pear Sorbet cloaked in frozen Plum Wine, it was back to another choice of one of Soto's delightful specials from 7 items. This time I chose the "Sashimi" style Salmon Ceviche with fresh lime, sea salt, cilantro and scallion. Unfortunately the portion was extremely generous and we were beginning to feel the urge to hibernate. Finally the Sushi (rice) course arrived signalling the finale. Again 3 out of 6. I selected Hamachi, Aji and Ama Ebi. Plum Ice Cream finished it and after paying the meager bill, we felt stuffed and very very content.

It is worthy to note that Soto doesn't have his portions appropriately scaled to a 17 course menu. If there was one complaint, and there was one, it was too too much food.

Given the food, food quality, artistry, service and ambience, Ned is in all liklihood correct when he suggests going sooner rather than later if you have the oportunity. Soto is easily on par with the great Asian chefs of our time. If he doubled his pricing for this meal it would still be bargain basement pricing. Soto might not be a great business person but he is a sublime chef.


Jay

You are what you eat.

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With such detailed accolades from jaypm, it seems impossible not to try Soto's newest offering of this intricate, well-conceived menu. Thanks for your beautifully written post on your meal there, Jay!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I don't suppose you folks would mind seeing Soto's dishes from last night, right?

soto1.jpg

Clockwise from top left: Sumashi soup, goma ae with lotus and hijiki, steamed abalone, fried sea eel bone, cured mullet roe, herring roe with kelp.

soto2.jpg

Yellow pepper mousse with mussle broth, grape tomato, lobster claw and smelt fish roe.

soto3.jpg

Tempura fried flounder with shiso leaf in agedashi broth.

soto4.jpg

Fresh water eel and sea eel, fried burdock and fried scallions.

soto5.jpg

Top to bottom: Octopus julienne with puree of Asian pear vinaigrette, Snow crab with Nikogori aspic and yuzu, Kobe grade beef with foie gras and sukiyaki broth.

soto6.jpg

Steamed scallop, lobster and red snapper with hot scallion and ginger oil.

soto7.jpg

Sashimi course: Live lobster, giant clam, squid with wasabi tobiko, salmon and sweet shrimp with 2 dipping sauces.

soto8.jpg

Fried Atlantic sole with Ponzu sauce. The flesh is served first, while the skeleton is taken back to be fried again into a crisp morsel.

soto9.jpg

Miso soup with shrimp and crab shinjyo and shimeji mushroom.

And that's only half the meal so far.

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soto10.jpg

Sushi course: Sweet shrimp, giant clam and scallop

soto11.jpg

Kobe beef tatake with Ponzu.

soto12.jpg

Hamachi tartare with pine nuts, wasabi tobiko, soy sauce foam.

soto13.jpg

Sunomono: Tosazu vinegar sauce with Hokki clam, mackerel rolled with ginger, scallion, sesame, shiso, pickled burdock. Fresh water eel, cucumber and wakame.

soto14.jpg

Broiled Chilean sea bass, Langostine with shiitake mushroom sauce.

soto15.jpg

Asian pears in pear sorbet with frozen plum wine.

soto16.jpg

Broiled lobster with mango and portabello mushroom, panko crumbs.

soto17.jpg

Salmon ceviche with fresh lime and sea salt.

soto18.jpg

Red bean and green tea ice creams.

Yum.

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Wow!

Not for a second do I believe myself worthy of such a glorious meal!

Thanks for the pics!


Be polite with dragons, for thou art crunchy and goeth down well with ketchup....

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Food Tutor,

The photographs are marvelous! The one, or two items, that I would love to have you elaborate upon were the Kobe beef and Sunomono: Tosazu vinegar sauce with Hokki clam, mackerel rolled with ginger, scallion, sesame, shiso, pickled burdock. Fresh water eel, cucumber and wakame.

Were they as delicious as they appear here? For those alone, I would definitely try Soto's special menu!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The one, or two items, that I would love to have you elaborate upon were the Kobe beef and Sunomono: Tosazu vinegar sauce with Hokki clam, mackerel rolled with ginger, scallion, sesame, shiso, pickled burdock. Fresh water eel, cucumber and wakame.

The Kobe beef is actually an American product from Idaho Snake River Farm. Soto said he used American "Kobe grade" beef, actually a hybrid, because he felt that Japanese Kobe beef is actually "too tender." He said that in Japan, the Kobe cattle are treated more than well, spoiled to death, even, with daily massages and people who chew the cattle's food for them. I think he might have been joking when he said that, though.

Anyway, the tataki was delicious, with Ponzu sauce that had just the right amount of sweet and sour to complement the beef, and a light grating of Daikon.

The Sunomono course was very good as well, with the hamachi roll being one of my favorites. The hamachi serves as the outer wrapper of the roll, and it's stuffed with all the pickled vegetables. It was a very tangy, pickle-y course, with the pickled cucumber salad and pickled seaweed, all in that very light vinegar.

A couple friends who've seen my photos in the last few days have called Soto to ask if they can have the tasting menu minus the shellfish, or minus any courses that contain soy sauce. While it would be nice for everyone with every kind of allergy to be able to enjoy this sort of meal, unfortunately I do not think that Soto will do that much rearranging of his tasting menu. Please keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to make your reservations.

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All I can do to describe my meal at Soto is the most perfect Japanese meal I have ever had. I say this both as a 31 year old and as a lover of sushi and sashimi. I also say this as a lover of fusion japanese cuisine. Morimoto in Philadelphia is a place where I have had some of my best meals.

I came to Soto as a recommendation from this thread. I was not disappointed. Soto is in a strip mall off Peachtree in Buckhead. The front suggests traditional cuisine and the interior is calming with ten,

four person tables and a sushi bar at the front with no seats. The decor is very simple and calming with some glass art on the walls and some soothing indirect lighting.

I want to get out of the way what I noticed as far as theory, service and approach.

Four of the tables this night were occupied, out of ten. Twenty people were turned away as as walk-ins. Not because there were no tables, but because Soto requires 24hrs notice to prepare his menu for the reservations that were made. Only those who made reservations were accommodated. This is remarkable and shows a commitment to concept I have never experienced, I don't think.

The service was excellent. I had an waiter named Chresna Changra who accommodated my every need (I dined alone). That is all I need to say. He gave me everything I needed before I needed it. Perfect. The hostess, who had the duty of turning away the twenty persons who saw six empty tables, executed this task with grace and eloquence.

On the the food. Some of these dishes were served together, some on the same plate, but each required individual preparation.

The following is the menu and the comments I noted on my pad.

Dobin mushi soup

a round complex ballaced broth sipped from a dish. The pot revealed kelp, shrimp, flounder, ginko nuts and yuzo citrus that I ate from the pot after I sipped the broth.

Live lobster sashimi

Sweet fresh with creamy ginger flavors, lime and shizo accents yum

Miso marinated fois gras

sweet silky, o my

Smoked sea urchin

light smoke sweet and perfect texture

Cured mullet roe

Punget, essence of fish chewy, and then melts in you mouth

Slow steamed abalone

tender pungent long distinguished aftertaste

Japanese cucumber

crunchy tender pure

Wakame seaweed

fresh and tender

Mackeral ginger roll

pungent and fresh

Snow crab with Kimizu sauce

sweet and simple

Hokki clam with miso mustard

soft silky full of flavor

Lobster in yellow pepper mousse

lobster was only a texture in this fully flavored perfect mousse

Steamed egg custard with mushrooms and mussel

perfect combination of flavor, remarkable

Miso and fois gras soup

Rich like cashew butter bold

Tempura flounder in Agedahi broth

perfect broth tender fish and bracey accents

Uni capuccino

O lord this was right on

Octopus with asian pear broth

Most tender flavorful octopus ever

Idaho Kobe with fois gras

The chef poured the sauce in this spoon just as I ate I, this brought tears to my eyes.

Sashimi horse mackerel with ginger and scallion

Three strong flavors all in perfect balances,an eye opening remarkable dish, lorry

Seared Japanese red snapper

perfect fish what can I say

Live maine scallop

pure elegance

Pear sorbet with plum wine

refreshing, brisk

Hamachi tar tare with tobiko and pine nuts with soy froth

Im speechless this dish had it all i was crying

Crispy fried Atlantic Sole

wonderful with fried skin and bones and shizo to perfect it

Miso and sake lees marinade Black Cod

Soft perfect cod to die for

Fresh sea urchin wrapped in squid

This dish had a raw quail egg on top and was the perfect expression of three of my favorite food. O my god. Did I say o my god, yes Ill say it again o my god.

Sushi- Sea eel, sweet shrimp, and Aoyagi clam

all perfect expressions tender as butter.

Green tea ice cream

refreshing pure and soothing

I thought I would write and long essay on my conclusions, but Ill just say this. This was the best Traditional Japanese meal I have ever had and could have ever imagined. Sotohiro Kosugi was friendly and gracious and is a remarkable talent. What he is doing is revolutionary on this continent and should be respected world wide.

This unassuming spot is worth a trip as a destination. I plan to be a regular even though I live in North Carolina.

I give this the highest praise I can give.

Did I mention the meal was $75 and there are nine perfect sakes to accompany your meal.

I honor you Sotohiro Kosugi.

Thank You

Nate Conner

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Sotohiro Kosugi was friendly and gracious and is a remarkable talent.  What he is doing is revolutionary on this continent and should be respected world wide. 

I give this the highest praise I can give.

Did I mention the meal was $75 and there are nine perfect sakes to accompany your meal.

I honor you Sotohiro Kosugi.

He is indeed a true gift to those of us fortunate enough to live here in Atlanta .. his talent is a rare one and, the more I read about him and his background, the more I can see how chefs like Sotohiro are few and far between.

The price of $75 for this banquet is unbelievable!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Soto for dinner with my husband Saturday night. TheFoodTutor and nhconner have already described many of the dishes we tried, so I'll only mention a couple not already described:

Steamed monkfish liver pate with shiitake mushroom: lovely monkfish liver wrapped inside the mushroom and skewered. This was part of a multi-dish course called "Hasson dish".

Steamed Maine lobster: steamed lobster served with an uni mousse, wrapped in thin slices of lotus root. This was one of the eight choices offered in the "Soto's Popular Item" category (three courses on this 12 course menu call for the diner to make a choice: this one, the fish tartare, and sushi). These items were previously available back when Soto was doing conventional (well, sort of conventional) sushi and a la carte dishes, and I'd had a number of them. This was my favorite, so I got it. Best lobster, hands down, that I've ever eaten.

A few things to bear in mind if you're planning a visit:

Three seatings are offered so as to stagger the crowd a bit, 6:30, 8:00, and 9:30. If you choose the 6:30 seating you will most definitely not be finished by 8:00---the meal takes four hours, and many of the 12 courses are comprised of more than one dish. We took the 8:00 seating and finished at midnight. No turning of tables whatsoever.

As per one of our servers, Soto's doing as many as 30 covers a night (and all of the tables were booked during the peak while we were there), but that depends to some extent on the composition of the parties. Lots of two tops easier to handle than a couple of large parties.

A bit of price creep---our dinners were $80/head, and because dinner's over four hours you may consume more alcohol than you normally might. We drank two (yes, two) bottles of champagne (in addition to sparkling mineral water), such that our final bill with tip came to about $360.

Service is excellent (though not flawless) but not stuffy. Staff are happy to answer questions about pretty much anything, and Soto (and a female assistant) works right in front of you (our table was closest) the entire night. Lighting brighter than usual for upmarket dining, and classical music plays in the background. White synthetic tablecloths need replacing with the real thing (in no small part because they're so slippery against the table that one is in real danger of sweeping one's dinner onto the floor, and then I'd cry for sure) or they could be abandoned entirely. Nice black cloth napkins (so no lint on my black trousers) that are replaced with new when you visit the WC (which you probably will, given the length of the meal).

All in all a really great meal. Book for sure if you're in Atlanta, or visiting, and if you've got some spare frequent flyer miles around the house you might even consider making a special trip.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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