Two sushi chefs work behind the counter at the Mr. Fuji Sushi Japanese cuisine restaurant in Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland. (photo: BEVERLY M. ELANDER/FOR THE SUNDAY GAZETTE)
GUILDERLAND The new Mr. Fuji Sushi outlet is a quiet, almost contemplative place amid the retail hustle and bustle of Stuyvesant Plaza.
The clean lines and dark hues of its interior, broken here and there by a burst of color from a sparkly lamp and the occasional objet d’art, spoke to us of archetypical Asian decor — clean, spare and efficient.
We had escaped from a blustery cold outside and settled into our banquette with nothing more in mind than something to warm our innards as quickly as possible.
We spent a few minutes enjoying the ambiance of the place before diving into the menu, which offers extensive sushi and sashimi choices as well as a variety of hibachi, teriyaki and tempura dishes, soups, salads and udon or soba noodles with assorted accompaniments.
There’s also a tempting array of hot and cold appetizers modestly priced at between $4 and $9.50, which was the cost of the Mango Spider that caught Beverly’s eye almost immediately. It’s a soft-shell crab that’s deep-fried and served with mango sauce. But we decided we’d try that on another visit, because the hibachi dinner specials had pulled us in another direction with their soup-to-nuts composition.
Mr. Fuji Sushi
WHERE: 1475 Western Ave., Stuyvesant Plaza, Guilderland; 269-3999; www.mrfujisushi.com
WHEN: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; noon-10 p.m. Sunday
OTHER INFO: All major credit cards accepted; handicapped accessible; children’s choices available
The grilled dinner specials at Mr. Fuji include soup, salad, fried rice, two plump shrimp and grilled vegetables. You can choose to add salmon, steak, filet mignon, chicken, more shrimp, scallops or a lobster tail. Prices range from $14 to $29 (for the lobster version).
While Beverly ordered the Hibachi Vegetable dish ($14), I chose the Hibachi Chicken ($17).
Our server first brought us little dishes of a mild mustard and a ginger sauce for dipping. Then came our soup — a classic miso, which is a comforting broth made from fermented soy paste typically with little bits of tofu, kelp and scallions. It was a wonderful treat — a little briny, a little earthy and hot enough to take our minds off the chilly gusts that were waiting outside for us.
Our salads, served in small bowls, were composed of fresh and crispy lettuce, cucumbers and slivered carrots in a subtly sweet house dressing that served as a refreshing palate-cleanser before the main event.
HOT FROM HIBACHI
Our entrées arrived hot and fragrant from the hibachi — grilled veggies that included onions, zucchini, carrots and mushrooms, two fat shrimps and wonderfully flavorful rice that resembled a slow-cooked risotto in both appearance and taste. The chicken added to my dish consisted of a mound of white meat chunks that were moist and tender on the inside and just crisped enough outside to confirm that they had danced over a hot grill for a little while before they were plated and whisked to our table.
With the help of the dipping sauces, we relished the umami characteristics of the meal — the “fifth taste” after sweet, sour, salty and bitter, a delicious savoriness on the palate that is naturally occurring in some foods and achieved in others, as in the miso soup.
Our dinner concluded with ice cream — red bean for Beverly and green tea for me. They were sweet and unusual confections, and we enjoyed them thoroughly.
Our experience at Mr. Fuji Sushi was first-rate, including impeccable service from our server, Eva. Our tab came to a modest $39.98, including tax and tip.
Most Japanese-American dishes can be found at Mr. Fuji including those featuring eel, edamame (steamed soy beans) and deep-fried pork and chicken cutlets with egg and vegetables over rice. Besides dinner specials, there are also lunch bargains, including a Sushi Lunch for $9.50 and a Sashimi Lunch for $10.50 or a combo for $12.95.
The hot appetizer section of the menu is like a primer for neophytes. There you’ll find shumai (steamed shrimp dumplings), gyoza (pan-fried pork dumpling), vegetable-stuffed spring rolls, Beef Negmaki (scallion rolled in thin sliced beef in teriyaki sauce) and Yaki Ika (barbecued squid).
The sushi and sashimi a la carte offerings are impressive, ranging from tuna, fluke and eel to flying fish roe mackerel, squid and octopus.
Special rolls include the Dancing Eel Roll, consisting of spicy shrimp and kani masago (fish paste and roe), scallion and crunch with eel and avocado ($13). There’s also a Mermaid Roll, but don’t be alarmed. It’s salmon tempura, spicy mayo masago, scallion and spicy crabmeat ($12).
Besides tea, you can order something more potent with your dinner, including Japanese beer, white or red wine and hot or cold sake.
Mr. Fuji Sushi in Stuyvesant Plaza opened earlier this year in the space formerly occupied by Eats Marketplace. It is the second Mr. Fuji owned by husband-wife team Jack Yeung and Ice Yang. The first, in Clifton Park, opened in November 2006.