Nagano is located in an almost deserted strip mall on Stone Mountain Highway, but that sinking feeling you have when you first see the empty storefronts disappears as soon as you open the door.
Inside, the decor is pleasantly restrained in wood and brick, and the restaurant is clean and with just the right lighting, with a neighborhood neighborhood restaurant feel to it, on the sushi bar side, at least. While I was there on a recent Thursday night, waitstaff welcomed customers who were obviously regulars.
The bar offers 15 different types of sushi ($5.95 to $7.95), including one called the Stone Mountain roll (deep-fried shrimp, avocado, fresh salmon with a spicy sauce and fish eggs). There's a helpful card on the table explaining the different types.
Next to the Sushi bar and a few tables are three separate rooms, one large and two more intimate, with hibachi grills, but they weren't open the night I was there. That might be fun to try with a group sometime.
Instead of sushi, I went for the appetizer special, a spicy raw tuna salad that made me wish I'd ordered more raw fish from among the sushis. The tuna tasted fresh, and the spices were perky.
But on to the main course and the myriad of dishes that came with it. I had the sirloin dinner for $16.25, and while that might not sound like a terrific deal, it came with a smoky-flavored miso soup, an iceberg salad, rice and mixed vegetables, and rainbow sherbet for dessert.
The vegetables looked a little mushy, but they were still crunchy enough. The steak was fine and tender, and there were two dipping sauces.
Pretty typical Japanese steakhouse fare, but the prices are definitely more appealing to my pocketbook. Especially when you consider the amount of food you get. I left the restaurant with enough food in my doggy bag for another meal.
Nagano serves sake, plum wine and western wines, and there's an assortment of Japanese and other beers.
Children's plates are on the menu and are $10.25 (chicken, steak or shrimp dinners).
Nagano Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar is located at 5295 Stone Mountain Highway. It's open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m; Fri, Sat, 11am - 11 p.m. Telephone: 770-413-6151.