My wife has been wanting to got to Fresh Market ever since a coworker of hers, one with a diabetic husband, recommended it as a place to get things friendly to a diabetic. Now I have been to the Dunwoody Fresh Market. The easy availability of fresh fruits, quality meats, and small portion cheeses doesn’t hurt. However, I tend to think the main supermarkets, such as Publix and Kroger, are better places to get diabetic specialty items, things like sugar free jams and preserves, Glucerna bars, etc.

Anyway, before I tee off on the high end groceries in general, let’s talk a bit about the layout of Fresh Market. On entering you pass through flowers and the bigger editions of these stores have a florist on hand. Next is fresh produce, which is of good quality and tends to be expensive. If you want things like exceptionally sweet carrots or golden raspberries, they have them here. In terms of size, this one is more Trader Joe’s sized than Whole Foods sized, but there are still important differences between Joe’s and Fresh Market.

Unlike Trader Joe’s, the two Fresh Markets I’ve seen have bakeries and a butcher and a good but small collection of fish. There are a lot of prepared sweets in Fresh Market (none of which I can eat) and they have a deli-like section to get things like Boar’s Head meats and high end  cheeses. They have good breads and an above average collection of dairy products. The store in general is full of eye candy and an interesting place to shop.

Are the high end grocers diabetic friendly?

To be brutally honest, I don’t think any high end grocery deserves to be called diabetic friendly, because they’re not. The sheer quantity of unmeasured, excessively rich prepared foods guarantees that. And when they offer prepared foods I can eat, like cooked whole grains, or a beef stew, where are the measuring cups? Tongs  and oversized bowls don’t cut it under these circumstances. Having to walk through these displays to get to cash registers and not having an effective way to partake is almost criminal.

That said, I don’t think they deserve the phrase diabetic unfriendly either. Small portions of protein and fats are key to someone like me being able to keep up my calories outside the home. Nuts, olives, small meat and fish portions and especially low fat cheeses make my quality of life much better. Rich selections of oils add variety to the kinds of food I can eat because two things I can be versatile with are fats and proteins. I can eat almost any vegetable, and it’s hard to eat too many. Fruits I can eat in measured quantities. Some diabetics can fit in the high cocoa chocolates (70% or more) as a calorie boost.

One of my issues when dieting is that I don’t eat enough. One way to boost my caloric input during the 2.5 meals I have to eat at work is to keep canned fish around. Sardines would be perfect, but they are also rich in purines and that doesn’t sit well with my other health issues. I like canned salmon when I can get it. I didn’t find any canned salmon at this Fresh Market but I did find canned mackerel. This Fresh Market has a rich collection of olives, which are diabetes friendly and a wide variety of ounce sized cheeses. They even had Black Diamond, a cheese that in the 1980s was proclaimed by some to be the best cheddar in North America. 3/4 ounce slices make it easy for someone like me to make last minute adjustments in a diet lacking calories, and in the process, I’m not giving up quality taste.

Black Diamond: 7g protein, 10g fat per ounce.

Chips and the diabetic.

I’d have to say finding how how diabetic sensitive tortilla and potato chip labels are to diabetes was an accident, and I’ll note that Jeff’s article on Adventurous Tastes, titled “Is the Serving Size Game Coming to an End?” was a key to noticing this. He was complaining about how stupid chip labeling is, that they use a portion size that’s ridiculous. I was agreeing with Jeff and while doing so, actually read the label and noticed the magic number: 15 grams of carbs. 15 grams of carbs is one starch exchange, the size of a single serving for a diabetic.  All I can conclude is that someone in the chip industry has diabetes, or a relative with diabetes.

Recently I went to the closest Walgreens to me and looked at the carb portion of a single serving size of every bag of chips, tortillas, tortilla scoops and popcorn I could find All of them had a serving size whose carbs ranged from 13 gram of carbs to 19 grams of carbs, and a substantial plurality were dead on 15 grams of carbs. So, it appears to be an industry wide phenomenon.

Shoya Izakaya is currently the sole occupant of a shopping center that soon will be the home of a large Super H Mart, and as I drove up to it early in the evening, there were, I estimate, perhaps 40 to 50 cars in front of the eatery. There were so many I tried to get a photo (I didn’t get them all, I needed a wider angle lens). And after I watched 2 more people walk into the eatery I thought I had better join them, because it looked to be getting packed.

parking_for_shoya

I was, it turns out, lucky. It’s a beautiful restaurant inside, but it’s a little small for the crowds they’re now getting, a little cramped. There was space at the sushi bar, and they seated me there. Though crowded, it was quite amiable, and staff were doing their best to manage the crowd.

After a bit of time, I was able to talk to a waitress, and I ordered 4 items to begin: oshinko (pickles), ankimo (monk fish liver), ikura oroshi (I wasn’t 100% sure of what this was initially, but I wanted to try it — ikura sounded familiar), and yakitori (chicken kebabs), cooked in sea salt. Later I ordered bbq eel (unagi kabayaki), and beef ponzu ae.

An izakaya is a bar, a place to drink, but in America, they’re becoming more akin to tapas bars. Shoya is an example of this style. The menu covers six pages in English and Japanese, and the menu is perhaps two and a half feet long (longer than my forearm – I checked). There are a dizzying array of choices, and that doesn’t even begin to cover the offerings of the sushi bar.  The menu items are, for the most part, inexpensive. The serving size is small. The idea is to let the customer try many different things, rather than settle on just one thing and eat that. I have to admit it’s a totally seductive proposition, and in the process, I forgot the one thing that would have centered the meal, and that is a bowl of rice. Unfortunately, that’s something I’ll have to fix on another visit.

The first thing I received was the ankimo, and in many respects it was the most surprising thing I had. It’s not at all like the liver of a land animal, and the product was creamy, molded into a oval shape. The ankimo was delicious, one of the best things I had that day. The ikura oroshi came next, and I liked it quite a bit. Basically it’s salmon roe over a bed of shaved daikon, and I really like salmon roe. Oshinko came next, with pickled carrot, daikon, cucumber, mushrooms, beans, and bits of pickled ginger. It was quite good, but would have been better with rice.

The yakitori arrived a few minutes later. It was lighter in color than the yakitori I’ve been having, and the salt added tastes I hadn’t had before. It was very good. The BBQ eel arrived next. I’ve always liked unagi, and this was no exception. I found it a bit hard to cut with chopsticks, and gave up finally,  and used other means to bring it into edible size. The last dish, perhaps the biggest dish I had all night, was the beef ponzu ae. It’s been noted in other blog reports that it is really good, cool thin strips of beef mixed with a light brown sauce and full of perfect green leaves.  I’d say it was among the best dishes I had that day.

Service was good, all things considered. The restaurant had people waiting almost from the time I was seated until I left. People remarked that they could have used more staff, and I suspect that’s true. All in all though, I had a great time. I’m sure I’ll be back.

Verdict: If Japanese tapas appeals to you, then this place is very highly recommended.

Shoya Izakaya
6035 Peachtree Road
Doraville, GA 30341
(770) 457-5555

Shoya Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Notes: There exist previews and reviews by John Kessler, Gene Lee of Eat Drink Man, and Foodie Buddha. Chow Down Atlanta has also weighed in on this eatery. Last, but never least, Amy on Food has an elegant report on the food of Shoya Izakaya.