Whereas going out for sushi was once a rare and exotic treat, the proliferation of sushi restaurants and the inclusion of non-Asian ingredients such as potatoes, cream cheese and jalapenos has led to sushi becoming less of a special occasion food.
Fujiyama Japanese Restaurant toes the line beautifully between "I have to buy a new dress, my boyfriend is taking me out for dinner" and "Let's stop for sushi on the way home from the mall." Private tatami rooms provide quiet places for an out-of-the-box business meeting or a place to impress in-laws to-be, but the strip mall location and parking lot view keep the restaurant from reaching hoity-toity status, which apparently appeals to a diverse group of people on Sunday nights.
The sushi-loving witch and I arrived at nearly 7 p.m. to find a dining room sans diners except for one young couple at the sushi bar.
From our seat by the window, we watched a handful of pedestrians wander past and shared a plate of what we decided was our favorite agedashi tofu ($4.50) to date. Fat rectangles of not-too-soft tofu were delicately fried and sprinkled with crispy, fried scallion bits that we struggled to keep on the chunks as we dipped them in a tangy ponzu sauce.
Surprisingly large orders of kani salad ($6.50) for me and seaweed salad ($5.95) for the witch made us consider reducing our sushi order. Long slivers of krab stick blanketed a mound of pickled seaweed strips in my kani salad, the acid tang and the chewy bounce one of my favorite taste/texture combinations. And even though the witch's bowl was also brimming with sinewy strands of seaweed, our appetites won out and we opted for a Boise roll ($12.95) for me, a Luck Luck roll ($11.95) for her and one of the specials scrawled on a white board, the Linda roll ($12.95), to share.
I went a little green with envy when the witch's Boise roll arrived, the piles of red, black and lime-green tobiko making me wish I'd ordered that, too. (That pop of tobiko on my tongue is another favorite flavor/feel.) Before our food arrived, we discussed the practice of tempura-frying whole shrimp and how the diner is faced with a difficult decision: don't make a scene and just crunch through the thing, tail and all, or try to tear the tail off in mid bite and surreptitiously leave it on the plate. The inclusion of tempura shrimp in the witch's Luck Luck roll--the tail sticking several inches out of one slice--made us laugh, but the eat/don't eat dilemma is never one we have to deal with. (We never eat the tail. Duh.)
The Linda roll's krab, tuna and avocado proved unremarkable, the flavor profile being one we encounter every time we go out for sushi, although we did like the inclusion of black sesame seeds on an aesthetic level.
The Boise roll, however, offered a visual I've never come across: fuchsia-colored, chopped tuna wrapped in snow crab, crunchy tempura bits and avocado. The color combination was at once appealing and a bit off-putting, but the flavor--and, yet again, the texture (tempura bits should be in everything)--put any concerns to rest.
The one issue I had with both the Linda and the Boise were my fault. Both rolls were beribboned with eel sauce and even a contrasting swoop of spicy mayo wasn't enough to cut through the sweet brown drizzle, which threatened to take over the flavor. It's clearly listed as an ingredient on the menu so, next time, I'll just ask that it be omitted.
As we were wrapping up dinner and our leftovers were getting wrapped up (sushi leftovers next day=good; two days later=not good at all), the dining room began to fill with an assortment of people in pairs, groups and families as if some sporting event had just let out. We surmised that one of the anchor stores like Ross or Target had closed, and shoppers who, like ourselves, see sushi as a viable dining-out alternative to burgers or pizza, were coming in to enjoy a Sunday evening meal.
--Amy Atkins thinks more food should come in shades of pink.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Fujiyama Japanese Restaurant here.