I’ve been visiting Kang Nam for so many years that it’s surprising I’ve never written about it. I guess I’ve been keeping it as part of my “secret stash”, hoping it wouldn’t get too crowded. I started going there for the occasional sushi lunch when I kept an office at PDK airport a few miles away. More recently, A & I have been using it as one of our comfort destinations – it’s usually quiet, no wait for a table, the staff is attentive and the fish is fresh.
First things first – this is a sushi restaurant, but understand that it’s a Korean sushi restaurant. So, what does that mean in terms of sushi? Best I can tell, absolutely nothing. And that’s a good thing. You’re not going to find a rarefied sushi selection. If you want that, head about a mile North on Buford Highway and try Sushi House Hayakawa (but be prepared if you don’t have a reservation). You’re not going to find an izakaya menu here either. If you want that, head about a mile West to Sushi Yoko or a mile South-West to Shoya Izakaya.
What you will find is workaday sushi of consistently high quality. But it’s also a Korean restaurant with a nice selection of traditional dishes – which I will admit, I’ve never tried…
Being a Korean restaurant, meals always start with an assortment of banchan. There’s usually some variation, but the selection usually includes kimchi (fermented cabbage), sigeumchi namul (spinach salad), miyeok julgi bokkeum (sauteed seaweed), sukjunamul (marinated bean sprouts) and Korean potato salad (an odd adoption of an American dish).
There’s also the obligatory iceberg salad with ginger dressing (I’m not sure, but I think this is an invention of Benihana) and miso soup.
My fallback dish is always chirashizushi, a bowl of sushi rice topped with sashimi and other ingredients.
Takuan (pickled daikon), sake (salmon), tako (octopus), kanikama (fake crab), saba (mackerel), tamago (egg), maguro (tuna), ebi (shrimp), ika (squid), hokkigai (surf clam), tobiko (flying fish roe), with the occasional variation thrown in by the chef.
I love to sit at sushi bars, but this is one of my favorites. It’s never really crowded (often the entire restaurant seems empty). But the itamae (chefs) seem to be constantly churning out bowls and sushi boats loaded with 50, 60, 70 pieces of sushi and sashimi, which quietly disappear behind the curtains around the edge of the dining room. And if you’re lucky, they’ll experiment on you with off-the-cuff dishes as well.
A little observation – each tatami room, hidden behind a curtain has a sign over it. The names on the signs (Ban Po, Do Gok, etc) are train stations in Seoul. KangNam (Gangnam) itself is both a district and a train station in the city.
5715 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30340