On July 28, after nearly 10 years of business, chef Guy Wong closed Miso Izakaya, his pioneering and much beloved Japanese yakitori, sushi and ramen restaurant on Edgewood Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward.
The lease was up on the property, and as Wong explained on social media, he wasn’t able to negotiate new terms with the landlord, so he reckoned it was time to move on with some new ventures.
As it turned out, fans didn’t have long to wait, as Wong and business partner Mike Blum opened Miso Ko in the food hall at nearby Ponce City Market on Sept. 8.
Located next to Wong and Blum’s ramen restaurant, Ton Ton, Miso Ko is a food stall with a 10-seat sushi counter serving made-to-order sashimi, nigiro, hand rolls, makimono, and signature specialty rolls from the Miso Izakaya menu. Plus, due to its location, there’s an emphasis on quick service and grab-and-go combos.
On the beverage menu, which is shared with the bar at Ton Ton, you’ll find beer, sake, and a few signature cocktails, including the Yuzu Gari, with Kinjo Shiro, yuzu, sweet pickled ginger, and seltzer.
Last week, when Wong, Blum and longtime Miso Izakaya partner Hong Vu sat down at the bar to talk about Miso Ko, the signage and decorative touches still weren’t in place. But as they all agreed, the sushi counter has been very busy.
“We closed Miso Izakaya, but we still have the support of the area,” Wong said. “That’s why being able to put Miso Ko here worked. The neighborhood was familiar with me. And that’s what made Ton Ton so successful. So it only made sense to have Miso Ko here. By design, this place is meant to be very casual. We’re not trying to be too serious. We want it to be fun.”
“We’re seeing a ton of the Miso Izakaya clientele coming to Ko each week,” Blum said. “We haven’t even been open three weeks, all of our signage is still being fabricated, but we’re seeing a lot of familiar faces.”
As both Wong and Vu noted, anyone familiar with the sushi menu at Miso Izakaya will recognize most of the offerings at Miso Ko.
“It’s taken directly from Miso Izakaya,” Vu said. “The only difference here is not only do we have the sit-down service where guests can order off the menu, but guests can do some grab-and-go items. That’s to kind of fit into the Ponce City Market atmosphere.
“But we still wanted to offer the specialty rolls. We only had those at Miso Izakaya for about three years, but they really became iconic. And ever since we opened here, these are the rolls people are gravitating to.”
Helping with that, the favorite piece of new equipment is a machine that turns out perfectly square rice sheets.
“We call him Norman San,” Vu said. “So he’s part of our team here, which makes it possible to be inside Ponce City Market, where it’s so fast-paced. To keep up with the demand, we needed help from Norman. He puts the rice on the nori, and making sushi rolls, that’s what takes the most time.”
Summing up, Wong and Blum said that while Miso Ko had been in the works for quite a while, finally opening so soon after closing Miso Izakaya was both bittersweet and fortuitous.
“The fact that we got to take the sushi chefs over here and have a transition like that was really great,” Blum said.
And fans of Miso Izakaya will be happy to know, Wong and Blum have another restaurant coming soon to the Old Fourth Ward, though they won’t reveal the exact concept, yet.
675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, N151, Atlanta, 404-883-3507.
Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Miso Ko at Ponce City Market
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