Southern Hospitality at Ginza Japanese Restaurant

It's far from the Heights, miles from midtown and could never double as a nightclub. Unassuming as ever, my favorite sushi in town -- Ginza Japanese Restaurant -- makes me proud to dine in a shopping center next to Jack's Carpet.

The meal begins with hot towels and ends with sliced oranges - clearly the extracurricular work of an experienced sushi knife. A server hovers four feet from my table with ice water, and the wait staff saunter around in simple, muted kimonos.

What happens in between is good, honest food. There are places you go to for specialty rolls -- topped and sauced and deep-fried -- and places you go to because you're half convinced the fish is still alive in back, waiting to become nigiri. Ginza sushi is uncorrupted by extras. Basics like tuna and yellowtail are fresh and succulent, melting in the mouth without hesitation or desire for soy.

You get the sense that things are done a certain way here because it's proper tradition --like serving ice tea on a Louisiana front porch. Dining here is calming, and the short walk to my car at the end of the night is a delight seldom experienced by those who frequent trendier, more packed places.

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