Chef Jason Liang and John Chen (Momonoki, Momo Cafe) plan to close their longtime Decatur restaurant Brush Sushi Izakaya next month and replace it with a much more casual omakase restaurant called Cuddlefish. The partners announced their latest restaurant together on Instagram earlier this week and their intention to relocate Brush to Buckhead in 2023.
The last dinner service at Brush takes place on October 9, marking the end of the restaurant’s six-year run in Decatur. Liang and Chen, who are currently in negotiations for a new space for Brush, expect to reopen in Buckhead next summer. They declined to provide any specifics on the new location.
Cuddlefish replaces Brush in Decatur by the end of October, following a quick refresh of the interior.
“We’ve had this idea for a while and felt it was the right time to finally do it,” Chen tells Eater. “Decatur is still a great location for us and a better fit for what we want to do with Cuddlefish, but Buckhead is where we are going to push our boundaries more with the menu at Brush. We have so many customers who travel to Brush now from Buckhead, too.”
Chen says where as Brush is more of a special occasion destination restaurant, Cuddlefish is an every day, casual restaurant better suited to the dining vibe in Decatur.
Liang says the name for the new restaurant is inspired by the first piece of sushi he often presents in his omakase: cuttlefish. He sometimes jokes with diners at the sushi bar about its name, saying the fish are cuddling together.
“So, I had this image in my head of these fish cuddling and thought it would make a nice logo. It’s meant to be fun and chill,” he says.
Cuddlefish won’t include a sushi bar to start, but instead serve four tiers of omakase via table service and at the restaurant’s full bar. Expect omakase options of between four and nine courses ranging from $37 to $99, with the latter offering sea urchin and dessert in addition to the signature course. Liang says each omakase starts off small with courses like black garlic edamame, tuna poke, and shoyu with avocado, before moving into sushi courses of nigiri and hand rolls. People can also order a la carte sushi items from the menu as well as cocktails, beer, sake, and Japanese whisky from the bar.
While prepaid reservations are highly encouraged for the omakase at Cuddlefish — especially on Friday and Saturday nights — the restaurant will allow walk-ins.
“We often have our daily sushi menu up to like 25 to 30 different fish and that can be overwhelming for guests and staff,” says Liang. “Cuddlefish will be more accessible for everyone. It will be more casual and have a lower price point, but still really good quality sushi.”
As for the interior, Liang and Chen plan to lighten up the dining room by painting the bricks white and removing the curtained off area near the kitchen where private dinners currently take place at Brush.
Brush Sushi in Buckhead
Chen says he and Liang hope to reopen Brush some time early next summer, barring any delays in lease negotiations, permitting, and construction. The Buckhead restaurant features a large dining space and will cater to sushi lovers seeking an upscale omakase experience. The izakaya menu won’t carry over from Brush in Decatur. That means no lobster ramen and baos in Buckhead. But Chen says they are planning to serve some of the Brush’s more popular small plates on the a la carte menu.
“These two restaurants will offer very different atmospheres — one casual and will hopefully attract more locals and one more of a destination — but the quality of sushi and service people expect from us will be there at both restaurants.”