Yumi Sushi Honors Family & Tradition

Americans aren’t doing sushi right, at least according to Mark Nelson. 


“When I would have lunch at school, kids would be like ‘EWW,” said Mark. “Now you can get it at the grocery store or the mall, and this is not what it’s supposed to be. Sushi is made to be something that, when you decide to go and get it, that’s the night. It’s about the chef, it’s about the experience. It’s about the sushi.”


According to Mark, sushi is very special in Japanese culture. Sushi bars in Japan are small, cozy and highly social, and usually enjoyed only by adults who have the money and occasion to do so, which he didn’t growing up. Instead of going out to eat sushi as a child Mark enjoyed his mother’s delectable, traditional home cooking. So when he set out to bring the authentic sushi experience to Atlanta, Mark decided to name the restaurant Yumiko after his mother and in her honor.

Mark found the community atmosphere at Serenbe to be perfectly in keeping with the social aspect of traditional sushi bars. In fact, every step of his journey with Yumiko seems to be touched by fate. 


When he began the restaurant build out, he was told there needed to be another sink. The builders readied themselves for a difficult task only to find, when they took out the sheet rock, that the pipes were already there. He came across weathered-zinc roofing another builder was using for the first time and it ended up matching the original structure’s roof perfectly. None of the ceiling lights needed to be moved.

“If you’re in construction for 100 years, these things never happen,” said Mark. “We’ve had a lot of strange stuff like that happen with Yumiko.”


The strangest thing to happen was who moved into the apartment above the restaurant. Mark needed inspiration to get out of his rut of designing for the colonial American style, so his neighbor mentioned her father was an architect and she had some Japanese architecture books she could lend. By the way, “she” is Kari Pei, a leading design consultant in the textiles industry and her father-in-law is the award-winning architect I.M. Pei.    


“Kari was a big help not only with textiles but with getting other materials that I would not know where to go to find,” said Mark. “She was excellent in getting me references and being the person to help filter what interior finishes should and shouldn’t go in.”


Yumiko is open in the Selborne neighborhood Tuesday-Saturday for dinner.