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B-Dama Opens with Down-Home Japanese Food

From grilled yakitori to tofu salad to fried chicken gizzard, Piedmont Avenue’s newest restaurant isn’t catering to the sushi-eating crowd.

At B-Dama you’ll find small plates of skewered and grilled chicken skin, vinegared shrimp, seaweed and cucumber salad, and bowls of beef tongue stew. You won’t find rock-n-roll rainbow spider rolls.

This new restaurant, which opened July 7 on the north end of Piedmont Avenue, would be called an izakaya in Japan—a neighborhood eatery and bar that functions like a local bistro.

“We do small dishes, like tapas,” said Chikara Ono, B-Dama’s manager and head chef, “done mostly in the traditional way.”

B-Dama was opened by Ono and his brother, who also own Geta sushi—Piedmont Avenue’s busiest sushi spot. Unlike Geta, which is known for big pieces of sushi and chicken teriyaki, their goal with B-Dama is to introduce people to authentic Japanese cuisine that’s eaten every day in Japan.

"You never see chicken teriyaki if you go to Japan," Ono said. "If I make chicken teriyaki [at B-Dama], I’ll make a different style—more Japanese." Ono explained that in the United States, chicken teriyaki is typically made by putting sauce on the chicken after it’s cooked, while in Japan, "we put sauce and grill and sauce and grill, more like yakitori."

Ono also uses different kinds of marinades than the typical sweet soy-sauce flavor you’d expect with chicken teriyaki; for example, he uses miso-based marinades and varies the flavor with different kinds of salts and sugars. "There’s lots of kinds of teriyaki," he said.

B-Dama occupies a larger space than its sister restaurant but is still cozy with earth-toned decorations, big windows, and wooden tables and chairs. There’s an extensive sake menu and daily specials. Customers can sit at the counter and watch the chefs work as they make create grilled yakitori meats and vegetables, soups and various deep-fried dishes.

Ono focuses on using seasonal vegetables from the farmers market and organic local meat. "Right now, we can buy local squid and sardines," he said. His menu also does include a limited amount of sushi with common types of fish, such as tuna and salmon, which changes with what’s available and in season.

And it’s cheap. Yakitori skewers range from $1.75 for green pepper or onion to $2.75 for butabara, or black pork belly, to $2.95 for organic Rosie chicken wings. Other items include torikawasu, which is boiled chicken skin with ponzu sauce for $4.95; eggplant in a fish-based broth called ohitashi for $4.50; and kakiage, which is crunchy vegetable tempura with shrimp and scallops cut into small pieces for $5.95.

Ono said one popular dish in particular is nutaae, which is vegetables and tuna marinated in a vinegar miso sauce and served on a bed of green onions. "People like nutaae," Ono said. "I was surprised because it tastes more Japanese, more traditional. "I didn’t think American people like this, but they do."

B-Dama is located at 4301-A Piedmont Ave. between John Street and Gleneden Avenue and is open for dinner only from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily except Tuesdays.

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