Friday, March 11, 2011

RA Sushi: Raw Entertainment

RA Sushi
RA Sushi
I love sushi and have wanted to go to RA Sushi (touted as the best in Atlanta) for as long as I've been living in the city again. I finally went on Fat Tuesday and find that I must absolutely agree with those who made the claim as "Best in Atlanta"…they totally let the good time roll!

I was meeting a friend at the restaurant and I arrived a few minutes early. I went to the bar and ordered a martini (made perfectly). They were slammed, but miraculously took my order in a minuscule amount of time (I would later learn that the company culture at RA Sushi is that of teamwork and being very, very attentive to their customers…color me very impressed!).

While waiting on my friend to arrive, I explored the restaurant. 

RA Sushi Dining Room
RA Sushi Dining Room
Its open-air dining room somehow pulled off a quaint atmosphere. The noise level is moderate…conversation is easy while the activity around you is entertaining. And there were ample staff to tend to your every need and desire.

After returning from the upstairs balcony overlooking the main dining room, where I was mesmerized by the red orb pendants, I settled in at the comfortable sushi bar.

Emily, my server, was absolutely amazing. She made me comfortable until my friend arrived and then took very good care of us both. She checked on us regularly, without rushing us. She was attentive and anticipated our needs…impressive service.

At the Sushi Bar
At the Sushi Bar
The food is phenomenal…and I mean phenomenal (and if you're a seasoned sushi eater, you know we can be some of the most finicky eaters, when it comes to our sushi, on the planet).

I certainly did not grow up eating sushi and when I started, it was only 'cooked' sushi. But, over the years I've tried it all…even sea urchin, which I'd heard many times is an "acquired taste."

That particular sampling was in Washington, D.C., at their best sushi restaurant. I have to admit, I've not yet acquired the taste for sea urchin. But, there are many others that I absolutely love and at the top of that list is tuna.

Dining Room Chandelier
Dining Room Chandelier
After living in Greece for more than two years, when I returned to the United States, there was hardly a restaurant that offered calamari where I did not try it…I was on a quest to find the best calamari outside of Greece.

While I still enjoy a good calamari now and then, these days the focus of my search has transitioned to tuna, specifically tuna tartar and seared tuna.

At RA Sushi, I sampled (if you can call eating every single bite a "sampling") their seared tuna and a tuna roll. My friend had two other dishes and we tried each other's dishes. I wanted to keep ordering and eating, ordering and eating…it was so incredibly good!

RA Sushi
RA Sushi
On a side note, I'd heard, but cannot confirm, that most wasabi Americans receive in Asian restaurants is colored horseradish. I've had "real" wasabi and the texture and taste are similar yet different. I'm afraid that if the horseradish tale is true, then most Americans have become so accustomed to the avatar for the real thing that it would require a significant culture change to replace it with the real thing.

While on the topic of wasabi, I've heard countless stories of other people's first sushi experience and how they mistook the wasabi on their plates for avocado, after which their sinus were totally clear, at least for a few moments. Do I find this funny? In a sort of America's Funniest Home Videos kind of way, yes (I'm a sucker for slapstick comedy). On the other hand, maybe there's a cure to seasonal allergies locked up in wasabi?

Lucy of the Armorettes
Lucy of the Armorettes
Well, it was Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, and RA Sushi wasn't going to let such a festive celebration opportunity slip by, even if raw fish isn't widely considered a New Orleans delicacy. I learned about the "Mardi RA Party" celebration on Facebook and deemed this the perfect opportunity to try RA Sushi for the first time…as it indeed turned out to be.

There was unique entertainment on the agenda for the evening. Although they started 30 minutes later than advertised, when they took to the "stage" (the middle of the dining room), the Armorettes, a legendary local drag show several decades strong, received a thunderous applause of welcome and throughout their performance.

Gina and Friend
Gina and Friend
Between us (we were sitting at the sushi bar) and the main dining room was a table of friends, evidently on a "girl's night out." I asked two of the young ladies if I could include them in a photo of the festivities taking place around us. That's Gina on the right (photo) who is the owner of Shē Salon on Auburn Avenue, a pleasure to have met.

There were several group outings in the restaurant that evening.

Enjoying the Mardi RA Party
Enjoying the "Mardi RA"
During my slightly more than an hour dining experience at RA Sushi, I came in contact with at least eight staff members. Including the hostess, bar tenders, servers, sushi chef, other various staff, and the manager, all of whom I talked with, everyone who works there was on a mission to ensure an ultimate experience. Mission accomplished, folks!

The celebration went on long after I had to leave for another engagement, but the brief time I spent there was truly a celebration. The last time I had that much fun in a restaurant was years ago at a New Year's Eve dinner in Washington, D.C. where all the servers are also singers…but that's a story for another time.

Near RA Sushi

RA Sushi is only one block from the Margaret Mitchell House (ticketed tour) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (free tour), both of which offer tours. So a tour and a sushi lunch or an early dinner could make for a great way to spend an afternoon or early evening.

Also, literally only a few blocks away are the High Museum of Art, the Alliance Theatre, 14th Street Playhouse, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Museum of Design Atlanta.

The Return

Will I be going back to RA Sushi? Actually, I'm quite surprised that I've not dined there every night this week…I'm very much looking forward to returning for more sushi experience, to get to know more of the staff, and will be keeping an eye out for their next festive celebration.

Dining at RA Sushi

Date Dined: Monday, March 8, 2011
Location: 1080 Peachtree Street, NE, Suite 8 (directions and map)
Parking: Metered street parking or adjacent pay parking lots
Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m., varies by service area
Menu: Lunch, Dinner, and Bar

Red Orb Pendants
Red Orb Pendants

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