An offshoot of Kobe Steaks, founded by Katsuhiko “Vic” Watanabe in 1975, French-Japanese Joli Kobe Bakery/Cafe has been an Atlanta fixture since 1985, offering everything from baguettes to madeleines and red buns.
Mihoko Obunai, who trained at the French Culinary Institute and was co-owner of the Atlanta fine dining restaurant Repast, recently joined Joli Kobe as executive chef. Obunai has been revamping the cafe’s lunch and dinner menus, featuring local and seasonal ingredients, and Japanese and French cooking techniques.
The look: The Prado in Sandy Springs has changed a lot since 1985, with Publix, Staples and Target bringing in traffic from all directions. Somehow, though, Joli Kobe remains centered in a calmer, quieter space and time. The interior, with its simple Japanese design, is situated around tall windows, cozy nooks of tables and booths, and an open kitchen with an abundance of bar seats.
The scene: One recent afternoon, the crowd was a mix of ladies who lunch, Asian families, and workers from nearby businesses. Friendly, fastidious servers kept things moving in the dining room, while in the bakery, customers lined up among gleaming glass cases filled with jewellike treats.
The menu: Obunai’s offerings change daily, depending on what she’s sourced. One day, there was a James River fried oyster sandwich with pickled jalapeno and toasted sesame remoulade ($9), kombu-cured yellowtail carpaccio with daikon and sea veggies ($12), and duck confit spring rolls with gingered kumquats and house pickles ($9). Fans of Obunai’s recent noodle adventures at Miso Izakaya will be excited by the likes of tonkotsu ramen with pork belly, farm egg, bok choy kimchee, wakame and Swiss chard ($12).
The drinks: There’s a full bar, and the beverage menu features sake and shochu, plus a concise selection of beer and wine. The recent wine list included Austrian gruner veltliner, French pinot noir and Italian negroamaro. The beer list included Koshihikari Echigo Japanese rice lager and Left Hand nitro milk stout.
The extras: Join Obunai at 6 p.m. April 19 for a Ramen Pop-Up dinner at Joli Kobe. For $12, guests will enjoy one of two types of ramen, Miso Tonkotsu (pork-based broth) or Shoyu Chicken Ramen, each prepared with Sun Noodles from the American-based Japanese fresh noodle company. Tickets: brownpapertickets.com/event/366229.
Lunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Sundays. Dinner: 5-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.
Starters, soups and salads, $6-$12; sandwiches, $8-$9; ramen and plates, $10-$16; sides, $5-$8.
5600 Roswell Road N.E., Sandy Springs. 404-843-3257.