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In 2011, when Chef Naito of Tomo abandoned his sushi house in an unassuming strip mall located on Cobb Parkway just outside of Vinings for sleeker, more upscale Buckhead, a new purveyor of sushi quickly took its place. Just shortly after the Tomo signs came down, new signs displaying Hoki sushi were put up. Since I work in the area having another sushi restaurant move into the space was a good thing and the fact that they put out high quality traditional sushi with a modern twist is even better.
Chef’s and Proprietor’s Andy and Ahin (Mike) Tjia really have a deep understanding of the necessity to source great ingredients and present them to their customers in both a traditional and unique way. As with most sushi houses, lunch (which is very solid and reasonably priced) tends to be fairly standard with the menu containing offerings of sashimi, nigiri, traditional sushi rolls and a few other items including teriyaki and noodles. But, the restaurant seems to transform itself in the evenings into a sushi house that will bedazzle even the most discerning sushi lovers and can compete with the big boys of Atlanta sushi like Tomo and Sushi House Hayakawa on all levels.
The best way to enjoy Hoki in the evenings is the best way to enjoy all sushi, by putting yourself in the hands of the chef. In this case Chef Andy and Chef Mike do not disappoint. The menu is a bit overwhelming at first glance which is why letting Chefs Andy and Mike take you through it omakase style is the best approach. On my last visit for dinner (as with my prior visits), Chefs Andy and Mike did not disappoint.
During my last meal there Chefs Andy and Mike paced everything perfectly as their staff effortlessly moved around the sushi bar where we sat tending to the details. Dishes started to flow out of the kitchen immediately as the chefs dazzled us with array of hot appetizers, cold appetizers and some of the best signature sushi dishes in town. One of the standouts from the hot appetizers was the black cod miso which consisted of a cod filet marinated in miso and then lightly grilled ($11) providing a wonderful aroma and a perfect sweet and salty balance on the palate. The Ankimo terrine (a cold appetizer) was a beautiful presentation of monkfish liver with a light ponzu sauce ($10) which led the near flawless transition into Hoki’s signature dishes, some of the best the city has to offer.
The signature dishes expertly prepared by Chefs Andy and Mike were the stars of the show. One of the most flavorful dishes I had each of my visits to Hoki was the Hamachi Truffle ($15). This was near perfection on a plate. Consisting of perfectly sliced young yellow tail, tomatoes, cilantro, Serrano pepper and white truffle oil, it was a perfect blend of earth meets sea. So often chefs tend to use way too much truffle oil in dish when only a dash is needed thus destroying the underlying flavors of the dish. Here was just the opposite. Chefs Andy and Mike use just the right amount of truffle oil to compliment the delicacy of the fish and leave you wanting more.
The dish that ultimately sticks out to me and one I will come back for again and again is the uni ravioli ($15). This was heaven on a plate. The “ravioli” consists of an amazing piece of uni (sea urchin) sandwiched between two thin slices of scallop. The uni, sourced fresh from California is some of the best you can find. This again goes to Chefs Andy’s and Mike’s uncanny ability to source the perfect fish to serve to their customers. The scallops and uni play perfectly off one another with the added notes of yuzu vinegrette which puts this dish over the top. Once you start eating this dish you will never want to stop.
In the end, this little unassuming sushi house located in a strip mall outside the perimeter is worth the drive for anyone who appreciates the art and flavors of sushi. Chefs Andy and Mike are the consummate hosts and will walk you through a sushi experience you will not soon forget. Sushi Hoki will remain high on my “go to” restaurants for sushi in this city for years to come.