Call it one family’s dream restaurant. Newly opened Eight Sushi Lounge is the work of sushi chef and matriarch, Lily Ho, her director of operations daughter, Windy Ho, and executive chef son, Handy Ho.
They are the team behind Rice Restaurant & Sushi Bar , the long-running pan-Asian restaurant in Cumming that gained a loyal following among both suburban and city dwellers, who come for its vivid, sometimes unlikely takes on Japanese and Chinese dishes.
Tucked away at the corner of Brady Avenue and 8th Street, in back of The Brady complex at 930 Howell Mill Road NW, the striking modern-meets-sustainable build-out was designed by Plexus R+D, an architecture and interior firm conveniently located just around the corner.
“This is brand new construction in a brand new building,” said Windy Ho one recent evening as a lively crowd settled in at the cozy tables nestled around the dining room. “The concept of the restaurant is evolutionary sushi with ingredients you don’t necessarily think go together. We wanted to make the look modern but natural and warm.”
The space, which is intended to reflect the ocean, has the dimensional quality of a CAD rendering, with waves of wooden slats serving as dividers and sculptural elements. Among other notable features, the curved sushi bar was fashioned from a single poplar tree, and the lightly iridescent paneling on the walls was constructed from sustainable blue pine beetle kill lumber.
The sleek cocktail bar near the front entrance sets the mood with specialty drinks such as the tall 44 Gold. It combines rye whiskey, star anise, orange bitters, a scotch rinse, and a splash of Japanese rice lager, topped with a lemon wedge and a pinch of ground mace, and served in a pilsner glass.
The food menu features fusions of textures and flavors in dishes such as spicy tuna Eggs Benedict and colorful sushi-style Ceviche. And there are over 30 house-made sauces that range far beyond soy and wasabi. But there’s also the notion of creating items to appeal to sushi novices.
“For someone who is scared to try sushi, we always dare them,” said Lily Ho. “You come here and you’re not going to believe it, and you’re going to love it.”
Handy Ho, who designed much of the menu with his mother and sister, and uses his knife skills with his cadre behind the sushi bar, has a millennial’s sense of adventure.
“Traditional sushi is good, but I want to twist it a bit, here and there,” he said. “I don’t want to just recreate Japanese food. I want to mix it up with flavors from different countries. I like Italian food and French food and if I use some of those ingredients it can be something else.”
One example is his Tuna Crisp, a starter or bar snack that uses crispy wontons as a base for triangular bites of raw tuna, ponzu mayo, sweet red onion and truffle oil.
“I really love that dish,” Handy Ho said. “It’s very simple and it’s what you want to have when you first sit down with your drinks.”
Another example is Hamachi Carpaccio, with seared hamachi, crispy fried carrots and balsamic vinaigrette.
“The Japanese part is the yellowtail but it’s also Italian with the balsamic and bit of tomato,” Handy Ho said. “This restaurant is not a traditional sushi place. I’m breaking the law of sushi with no apologies.
"I think where we opened in West Midtown is ready for this kind of stuff. But you have good quality to do that. For me, it’s not just fish. It’s the way we cut it, and the way we play with our knives. The cut is where the taste is.”
The Eight Sushi Lounge grand opening party is 5-11 p.m. tonight and Saturday, with a complimentary chef's choice appetizer and a chance to win a $100 Gift certificate during a drawing held at 8 p.m. each night.
Scroll down for a taste of what to expect on the menu.
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