"The secret," Tony tells me with a mysterious twinkle in his eye, "is in the rice." Really, now? "Everyone thinks it's what's inside the roll that's important, but the heart and soul of a sushi roll is the rice."Oh, the overwhelming, daunting task of finding a truly good sushi restaurant (that doesn't require a second mortgage) in Atlanta. So many strip malls, so little time... and so many are the same. What, then, makes Sushi Itto one of our new personal favorite casual spots to hit up for a roll or two? Reason number one: we're in good hands. Head sushi chef Arthur Yang has been perfecting his craft for over a decade now. Number two: the presentation. I witnessed three different plates of specialty rolls go out, and all were equally beautiful. Sure, it may seem superficial, but presentation really is everything, especially when so many other sushi joints forego that idea entirely. Can't blame a Scout for wanting to feel a little fancy every now and then. And number three, the service. Tony, who co-owns and manages the restaurant, beamed pride while we talked about Itto, and his staff were equally genial and attentive. Oh wait, we missed one: the rice.
"The secret," Tony tells me with a mysterious twinkle in his eye, "is in the rice." Really, now? "Everyone thinks it's what's inside the roll that's important, but the heart and soul of a sushi roll is the rice." And here I was, all this time thinking that the rice was just a means of bundling the tasty goodness up so I can transport it quickly and efficiently into my mouth. Not so, though many a mediocre sushi restaurant (and there are many) seem to think the same thing. Tony doesn't even know exactly what that special rice formula is -- things like that are left to his chef, who keeps a very watchful and protective eye on all rice-making operations. It involves a bit of seasoning, cooking it at the exact right temperature, and letting it cool down to another exact temperature, resulting in a sushi encasement that's actually a flavorful and tasty part of the meal, not just a wrapper. That's just one of the tricks of the trade that Chef Yang has picked up in over a decade of working as a sushi chef (and Tony tells me it takes over a year to perfect the rice alone). Want to learn even more of the chef's magic? Sit at the sushi bar and see if you can soak up the skill by osmosis -- or just by talking to him. Tony tells me that's where the true aficionados come to roost, so they can watch the magic happen and chat it up with Chef Yang -- oh, and also receive their sushi order at the exact right temperature. Seems like they've got it down to quite a precise science here at Sushi Itto. And we're more than happy to be their guinea pigs.
Diamond Roll, $14
St. Mary Roll, $14
Stone Mountain Roll, $14
Cowboy Roll, $12
Itto Paradise Roll, $10
Monday - Thursday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Saturday, 12 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Newsflash! Sushi Itto is now serving libations of the adult persuasion, so feel free to swill away while you nibble that expertly crafted sushi.