Atlanta scores big with the addition of Mujō, an omakase-style modern edomae resto brought to life by Castellucci Hospitality Group.
Aji, one of the most popular fish in Japan, served as nigiri
An elevated beverage program accompanies the omakase-style menu
When J. Trent Harris began working under a Japanese chef in Ohio at 18 years old, he hardly expected a hugely accomplished career in Japanese cuisine to be the result. Just a few years later, the chef would find himself working at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York, jetting off to Tokyo to learn traditional omakase cooking and finally returning to the States to put his own mark on Japanese cooking in America. From there, Harris met Fred Castellucci, president and CEO of Castellucci Hospitality Group, who shares his passion for omakase dining. As they say, the rest is history, and Harris now brings his deep knowledge and incredible talents to Atlanta as executive chef of Mujō (@mujoatl), where he serves omakasestyle modern Edomae sushi. We caught up with Harris and Castellucci about the inspiration behind Mujō, how they are making Edomae their own and what’s next.
The restaurant boasts chic, contemporary interiors, complemented by a high-energy environment.
What inspired you to create Mujō? FC: Our fascination with creating a unique concept of this kind has been years in the making. My wife and I befriended chef Trent at one of his omakase dinners during his New York days, and we committed to the future idea of working together to create an unpretentious, hospitalitydriven approach to the Edomae sushi dining experience, which at its best can only be in the omakase format.
How do you put your own spin on Edomae? JTH: Edomae sushi literally means in front of Tokyo—‘Edo’ is the old name for Tokyo; ‘mae’ means in front of. Originally, that meant the ingredients were sourced from Tokyo. With modern Edomae, we use uni, bluefin tuna, etc., so that’s really no longer the case—it’s just about using the best possible ingredients that are available to you. As far as my own spin, it’s like playing music; you can hear three musicians play the same song on the guitar, but their hands, emotions and environment may be different, and that’s the same with my style of cooking. We wanted to make Mujō more of a fun, upbeat experience, less pretentious and serene.
The bar area features eye-catching black marble and pops of pink
What can guests expect to see on the menu this spring? JTH: In springtime, one signature dish we’ll offer is wild king crab that’s served with cosazu—a sauce that’s made with vinegar and smoked and dried tuna. We serve that as a gelee, with the king crab plus seaweed and herbs. We’ll also have a version of chilled chawanmushi—a savory egg custard with English spring peas, seafood, spring onions, asparagus and dressing made from miso mustard.
The agedashi nasu, a fried eggplant dish.
Dreams for Mujō looking to the future? FC: I think the goal is just one guest at a time; we want to give people an amazing experience that is singular and build on that success one person at a time. Then, the long-term dreams tend to take care of themselves!
JTH: Our dream is an opportunity for our staff to be successful too. Hopefully some chefs can come through and get training from us before moving on to do their own thing. This is what I love doing, and if I’m doing exactly the same thing 10 years down the road, that’s success for me.
Photography by: Andrew Thomas Lee Photography