By: Jordan McCausland
If you’re in Athens and looking to have a few rolls of sushi then you’re in the right city! Athens is full of many local sushi joints throughout town, including Utage, Shokitini, and the fairly new Sakura. These restaurants are unique and wonderful, and well known for their delicious sushi! Can’t decide which one you want to go to? Well, that’s what I’m here for, I may not be a Japanese culinary expert but I’ve been to, and eaten at these location enough to know a good bit about what to expect. I’m here to make your decision a little easier by filling you in with the interesting details about each of them.
- Location-Well, to start off, these restaurants each have great and convenient locations. If you like to hang out around downtown, Utage and Shokitini win hands down, both located on opposite ends of downtown, Utage on East Clayton and Shokitini on West Clayton. The disadvantage of these restaurant being downtown is that parking can be a hassle to find if you want something close, and with the students in town there can be a bit of traffic while driving around. So, if you don’t like going downtown then Sakura would be your best choice, conveniently located on in the Clarke Crossing shopping center off Atlanta Highway, where it is easier to get in and out quickly and parking is very easy to find in the huge parking lot.
- Atmosphere- Walking into each of these restaurants Shokitini by far has the best atmosphere. With seating everywhere from the drink bar to the Sushi bar to regular seats and booths, so you sit with your guest and have a good time. The people in Shokitini are just having a great time, talking and watching whatever ever game is on at the time on one of the big screen TV’s, in this dim lit restaurant. The waiters are very friendly and do great at their job checking up on you whenever they can. Shokitini also offers a large party room where you can have karaoke night! Sushi and karaoke, what could be better! Shokitini also has the latest business hours, staying open till 2am, almost every night except Sundays, which is 12am. Sakura only stays open till 11pm, and Utage is only open till 9pm, so you had plan early if you want to eat here. Now don’t get me wrong Utage and Sakura have great atmospheres in their restaurants as well, they are just more of a quite and peaceful sit down environment.
- Presentation-If you’re looking to go somewhere that puts much effort into their presentation then I would highly recommend Sakura. This restaurant takes their time with your order to make it look as amazing as they can, with ice sculptures, lights and decorations to make your sushi look great and be enjoyable to eat, and you know it looks appealing if you have the need to take your phone out and snap a few pictures before digging into this edible art! All the restaurants have beautiful presentations but Sakura wins by going the extra step into making it look outstanding
- Budget-Now I know that one of the main things people look at when choosing a restaurant to eat at with the family is the expense of the meals. Now while all three of these restaurants have fairly reasonable prices, Utage has the lowest prices. Now lets saw you went with about four people to eat, here you can get a full meal including, Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts and Drinks for around $60-$70. I never said sushi was cheap, its going cost a good bit no matter where you chose to but go, but Utage has the best deals, with the largest selection of rolls and sushi, and you get what you pay for. Okay, now to show you a comparison lets just say you were going to go to Sakura with around four people, just like you did at Utage, and you order the same thing, Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts, and Drinks it would be about $100.
Consumers-These three restaurants serve food to a variety of local Athens costumers. Because of the bar that Shokitini offers and its location in downtown, this restaurant caters to people of all ages but you might see more of the younger age, College students and up come her to watch the game on the big screens, have a few drinks and catch up with their friends. This restaurant is great with all ages though. Sakura has a family friendly environment, for they also have a Japanese stake house inside, where you can sit around the grill and watch the chiefs make your food then serve it right to your plate, and experience that every kid loves to watch, where you can feel the heat of the flames from the fiery volcano they make out of onions to the delicious smell of your meat and vegetables being seasoned to taste, if you want to get out and you have children then this is the place to go.
Utage’s environment is very calm and quiet, full of locals that have been coming since day one, for over 20 years, the first sushi location in Athens. People speak in indoor voices, where its not to loud that you can hear the conversation going on next to you, but only the mummer of voices and the relaxing music being played in the background. Each of these restaurants have their own kind of environment when you walk in which can be a main reason you choose to stay.