Everything old is new again

Thu, 01/22/2009 - 2:27pm
By: The Citizen

By F.C. Foodie

In its heyday (the 1990s), Ginza was one of the top restaurants in the county. For a long time it was the county’s only Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar and it was very popular, both among the large Japanese population in the area and the gai-jin (did Foodie spell that and use that word correctly?). And then, somewhere along the way, the badness happened. There were new owners, the quality dipped, the restaurant closed and, for a long time, the building sat empty.

When I drove down Crosstown Drive towards Georgia Hwy 74, I would see it and remember sitting cross-legged in socks in the tatami rooms, eating my fill of teriyaki chicken. I wondered if Ginza’s fate was to become yet another Mexican restaurant or a drug store or something else entirely overdone and useless.

Thankfully, no. For all intents and purposes, Ginza has been resurrected as Kane Yama, a Japanese steakhouse with an exquisite sushi bar, a large karaoke bar area and a beautiful design and décor. Since Kane Yama opened its doors last year, after months and months of repair and renovation, the restaurant has been winning back fans and old regulars of Ginza with their high quality food and service.

Upon entering the building for the first time in years, I was hooked. The layout looked the same, but everything inside was very contemporary and stylish. Though I am admittedly a sushi rookie, I decided to start at the sushi bar, searching for something that I could sink my teeth into.

I was also hoping for something spicy to mask the fact that I would be eating fish. The chefs must have seen the strain on my face as I pored over the menu, because soon they were asking me questions and making recommendations. I am glad they did because not only did I try the Tempura Deluxe, a specialty roll that is one of Kane Yama’s most popular, but I also sampled things with decidedly more raw fish than I thought I would ever ingest.

And it was delicious.

One of the things that I particularly loved about the sushi at Kane Yama, particularly when I got to try the Mango Roll (which is now one of my favorite food items of all time) is how different tastes and textures were expertly blended. If you aren’t a sushi fan and blanche at the thought of eating raw fish, I understand, but would still recommend trying one of the specialty rolls at Kane Yama. They might just set you and your palette free.

Soon, it was time to try what I had really ventured to the restaurant for - meat. I got a dish that provided me with steak and chicken. They were both cooked perfectly and tasted great both on their own and with the sauces that came with the meal. The vegetables were crisp and fresh and the fried rice was light and not heavy with a sauce.

During my visit, I talked with a number of staff members, from servers to chefs, (it’s just what Foodie does, even though he is trying to be covert) and many of them talked about the excitement that their customers had shown to “have Ginza back.” The place, I’m told, is hopping on the weekends, particularly on Sundays with $1 sushi, and there is entertainment almost every night of the week, either from the karaoke bar or from local performers.

One restaurant can’t save the Crosstown shopping center by itself, but Kane Yama has established itself as a destination, in that neighborhood as well as in the entire county.

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