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   Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #538  (Vol. 11, No. 29)  This edition is for the week of July 12--18, 2010.

"Inception"  by Mike Smith
Gamera Vs. Barugon (1966)  by ED Tucker
Summer Memories: Sylvan Beach Amusement Park  by Chris Woods
Fuji Sushi  by Jason Fetters
Passing On .... Please Stick Hot Needles Into My Eyes .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith

Fuji Sushi

The evening started out fun. It was Saturday night and my friend and I decided to check out a little sushi restaurant on South Dale Mabry just past the Publix on Neptune. Never knowing what to expect, I have learned to lower my expectations for Tampa restaurants to the point that I might as well stay home and cook whatever it is myself.

Inside was the usual signs you have just entered a Japanese restaurant, a big gaudy kimono on display, always trying to cash in on Memoirs of a Geisha, (a horrible movie that should be avoided,) the dollar store Japanese Ukiyo-e portraits on display, is the typical setting.

OK, so I was really hot so I ordered iced tea. When the waitress brought my tea I decided to have a little fun so I said, “Nihongo hanasemasuka?” (Do you speak Japanese?)

This was greeted was a crossed concentrated and confused look so I repeated the common phrase. The waitress said, “I’m Vietnamese.”

So it was back to English

Later on my friend laughed at me and said, “You looked so annoyed when she said she was Vietnamese.”

I can’t count how many times I go to Japanese restaurants in Tampa and I can’t even practice Japanese because there are no Japanese working there, including the chef. I guess I’ll have to go to Epcot Center or one of the mega expensive authentic Japanese restaurants along International Drive in Orlando just so I can say hello to someone in Japanese.

My ice tea came promptly and this was a good sign because I was so thirsty. The tea was so weak and watered down that I should have ordered water instead. It was like drinking water with bits of instant tea floating inside. I overheard the waitress say it was Nestea and that confirmed that it was instant tea for me. So I wasn’t off to a good start at all.

My friend and I ordered the basic sushi like the typical Arizona roll, which is Yellowtail, Smelt, Roe, and Scallion. I ordered the Unakyu, which is eel and cucumber with toasted sesame seeds and special eel sauce (a sweet tangy sauce.)

I didn’t try the Arizona but the Unakyu was average. So average in taste that I remarked to my friend, “We should have just went to Publix for cheap bland supermarket sushi.”

However there was an upgraded Special Rolls menu that the waitress tried to upsell my friend on. I decided to buy one because I owed my friend money from lunch and that would even us out.

I ordered the Hawaiian Love roll, salmon with mango, panko (type of Japanese breadcrumbs,) fried shrimp, cream cheese, with tuna and pineapple on top. When the waitress brought it out I was very impressed and then after trying it, it was actually good.

My friend ordered the Seafood Combination Tempura, which looked really awful and you really have to work at screwing up tempura. A collection of fried shrimp, fish, and basic vegetables like carrot and sweet potato, a hush puppy was also included for some odd reason. I joked to my friend, “Is that a real Japanese hush puppy?”

“This is awful,” my friend told me and then invited me to try some, which I declined.

I ordered Yakiniku (grilled beef and onions), which is Korean BBQ (Bulgogi in Korean.) Yakiniku is actually good in Japan and Korea. They take beef and season it with garlic and sauces and spices and marinate it for a while and then you either cook it yourself at your table grill or it comes already cooked.

Again I wasn’t expecting much and as I bit down on a hard piece of beef. The beef was so tough and had no flavor at all. I don’t think they marinated the beef or if they did were so cheap and conservative on the ingredients that it was so bad. I could have went to Publix and bought a generic beef stir-fry and made my own Yakiniku much better.

My friend barely finished his weak green tea. Eventually the waitress came and took it away and the cup was full.

Other bad things, too much ginger dressing on the salad, I love ginger dressing and I hate to have my salad smothered with too much dressing. The miso soup was strange tasting because of a lack of dashi stock, hardly any Wakame seaweed and two tiny pieces of Tofu. It was slightly above eating instant miso soup, a horrible experience even for Japanese bachelors. Miso soup is actually easy to make. You put in one tablespoon of instant dashi to 1 cup of water and wait for it to boil. You cut square pieces of tofu and place the tofu in a small soup bowl, then you add whatever you want from mushrooms, to chopped green onions, to various seaweeds. Just before the water comes to a boil, you mix in one tablespoon of miso paste. Then you turn off the stove and take the soup stock off because you don’t want it to boil too long. Last, you pour the miso soup into the soup bowl and that’s it.

Although the waitress was attractive and spent a lot of time practicing her English with us the food was so bad that I can’t justify recommending Fuji Sushi to anyone. The next time we drive by on a Saturday night, we was just keep on going because better Sushi is out there somewhere.

Overall Rating: 1 star out of 4.

Fuji Sushi
1155 S. Dale Mabry #6
Tampa, FL
(813) 282-9098

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