Inventive dishes and fabulous service set Fuji Sushi Bar and Grill, in Mount Pleasant, apart from your average sushi bar.
After winding my way through a maze of a shopping center and walking through a small jumble of outdoor tables, I was caught off guard by the relatively chic décor inside Fuji Sushi. The majority of the surfaces are dark lacquered wood and the windows are covered with wooden screens and bamboo shades, yet the room seems light and cheery. The wooden shelves behind the bar create an attractive display for the generous selection of sake, wine and liquor. For sports fans or current Olympic junkies, the dining area and bar each have a flat screen TV, strategically placed in opposite corners of the restaurant. The atmosphere is casual enough for a quick lunch break, and classy enough to feel special on date night.
Before going to Fuji I took a peek at their menu online and I was prepared to spend some time sifting. They offer a huge selection of special maki ($11-13), in addition to nigiri or sashimi ($5-7), vegetable maki ($4), hibachi ($10-20), noodles ($9-10), appetizers ($4-12), soups, salads ($3-10), and rice bowls or bento boxes ($9-15) at lunchtime. In case that isn’t enough, they offer a children’s menu and they even have desserts like mochi ($4). I was overwhelmed with the decisions so I elected to start with the most interesting appetizer I could find and then ask for suggestions.
So I went to Fuji Sushi… and I ordered a pizza, of sorts. The Ginza ($7) is a flat pancake of rice fried to create a crunchy exterior and soft fluffy interior. There was a good amount of chopped spicy tuna on top and it was drizzled with eel sauce and a spicy Japanese mayonnaise. It was as if if okonomiyaki and yaki onigiri had a beautiful baby and I ate it. I’m seriously excited about the Ginza. Chef Qui Jiang really has a good thing going with this dish.
As if an awesome and unique appetizer weren’t enough to impress me, Fuji got double stars for service. My server was helpful, considerate and enthusiastic. When I asked for recommendations, she gave me meaningful advice that was pertinent to what I told her I was in the mood to eat and also recommended some things that sounded good enough to being me back for another visit. When I didn’t love my cocktail she noticed, and asked me pointed questions that made it easy to respond with constructive answers. Her only flaw was neglecting to warn me about portion size! Between the Ginza and two enormous sushi rolls, I had ordered enough food for three people. If you go alone, bring an appetite.
The rolls I ordered were another surprise. Until Fuji, I had yet to meet a special maki I truly loved. Most of the time the flavors of the ingredients don’t mesh well, the texture is unappetizing, and there is hardly any fish. They always seem like an excuse to use sauces to mask off-flavors and use more of the cheaper ingredients to make a profit margin. But at Fuji, the special maki are actually special. With some help I decided on the Halloween Roll and the White River Roll. Both rolls had fresh ingredients and balanced flavors. Both were mostly fish, not full of rice or cucumber and the textures were appealing. The biggest drawback to the meal was the $13 price tag on those special maki, but take advantage of their bento specials and it’s a relatively affordable restaurant.
The rolls are elaborate but its plain to see the care put into each aspect of the dining experience at Fuji Sushi Bar and Grill. Although I always expect great service in Charleston, Fuji was able to push the bar a little higher.
Fuji Sushi Bar and Grill will be hosting their 4th Anniversary Celebration on September 15th 2012. As thanks for their loyal customers, they will offer all-you-can-eat sushi with open bar for cocktails and beer at $75 per person.
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