Shoya Izakaya, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's John Kessler, is the only true Japanese pub in town. The restaurant's "small-plates menu format and focus on spirits" make a place like this good for groups, but Kessler warns that the real Japanese way of doing things, as he learned when he spent two years there after college, is to share dishes only if they are conducive to being easily divided— diners get to keep the messy ones all to themselves and should just split up, for example, platters of dumplings or croquettes. The dining critic recommends certain dishes— the sliced monkfish liver in ponzu, the mixed seafood zosui, grilled rice ball with salmon— and lets readers know which ones are good for sharing (the gyoza) and which ones they should hoard (the chicken skewers). There are also items that might sit better with less adventurous guests once they've had a few drinks— Kessler calls these drunk food. The eel omelet is an example. All in all, the experience will leave guests well-fed and is a "meal of sharply defined moments, not a symphony of small bites but of very specific encounters with small portions of different foods."
THE ELSEWHERE AND THE BLOGS: Hot Dish Review goes downstairs at Top FLR, Savory Exposure checks out The Optimist, Creative Loafing's Cliff Bostock doesn't like belly dancers shimmying all over his meal, even if it's the lamb shank at Nicola's, and the AJC has a fist look at Seven Hens and revisits Cabernet Steakhouse.