Friday, March 11, 2011

Fuji Sushi (McKees Rocks/Robinson)

I had plans to have dinner with a friend in the Robinson area and then head to IKEA afterwards to pick up some organizational items for the house.  Well, dinner plans got canceled, but I was going to head out to IKEA anyway, so I decided to knock off a Robinson-area restaurant on my wishlist.  The choice came down to Loving Hut or Fuji Sushi, and because I sorely needed a sushi fix, I decided to go with Fuji Sushi.  Loving Hut will have to wait another day.

I'd have to say, Fuji Sushi looks extremely unassuming on the outside, off the beaten path about a mile off the main drag of Robinson, in a tiny strip mall on Steubenville Pike next to a Midas service center.  I mean, if you were to judge a restaurant by its facade, you wouldn't think this place was any good.  But the avid reader of my blog (yes, all two of you!) would know that I only blog about what I like, so clearly, I enjoyed this place a lot.

Here are some pictures of my meal, accompanied by quite a bit more text than I normally write.  Yes, this is going to be one of my longer blog posts, and it even includes a discussion of the terms "teppanyaki" vs. "hibachi" (read on for more).  Are you ready for the ride? :)

Chef's Choice
I ordered the Chef's Choice ($23), which comes with a specialty roll of my choice plus seven pieces of sushi of the chef's choice.

For my specialty roll, I went with the "O" Roll, which consists of tempura shrimp, spicy crab meat, and seared tuna and salmon on top.  I liked it quite a bit.

The owner/chef, Tommy, brought me my meal personally, and pointed out two special fish he had that night.  This one is a flying fish fresh from Japan.  Tommy explains that these fish actually do fly above water.  I had never heard of flying fish before let alone eat them, so being the nerd that I am, I had to look it up when I got home.  They do seem like a pretty cool breed of fish.  Delicious, too!

The other straight-from-Japan fish is this one right here, for which there was no name given, but I was told it belongs to the grouper family.  Tommy claims to be the only show in town that offers fresh fish from Japan.  All I can say is I've never had such unique sushi before!

It's too bad I didn't get a picture of the salmon (although you can see it quite well in the first photo above).  I will fully admit that I base my judgment of a sushi restaurant heavily on the quality of the salmon.  Salmon is my favorite fish, and 9 times out of 10 when I have sushi I save it for last.  There is nothing more disappointing than bland salmon; it makes me a little angry when I waste that last bite that is meant to be savored on a piece of tasteless orangey blob.  Not the case at Fuji Sushi!  It was one of the more tasty salmons I've ever had thanks to its freshness.  I always appreciate a meal that ends on such a high note as this one did.

Aside from the food, my meal at Fuji Sushi was made particularly enjoyable thanks to the awesome staff, Sook (the waitress) and Tommy (the owner/chef).  Tommy, in particular, is a total hoot.  He noticed I was taking pictures of my food, and struck up a conversation about photography, and even had me fix a problem with his camera.  Then he showed me pictures he had taken with some Steelers players who had visited his restaurant, as well as a picture of a large, intact flying fish.  We also bonded over our mutual preference for the term "teppanyaki" over "hibachi." According to Tommy, "teppanyaki" is the correct term because "teppan" means iron board and "yaki" means cooking, and so it accurately describes the style of cooking that is done on a metal griddle. ( learn something every day.)  So what's "hibachi," you ask?  To quote Tommy, "You know on 4th of July the kids play with sparklers?  THAT'S 'hibachi.'"  (FWIW, I went nerdy again and did a search on Wikipedia, which does at least corroborate the notion that "teppanyaki" is the proper term.)  Anyway, I can tell from my very long conversation with Tommy that he's passionate about his business and his customers.  I've never had any restaurant owner show this much interest in me.  Granted, on this very rainy night I was nearly his only customer, but he sounds like the type of guy who strives to make your visit a pleasant one no matter how busy his restaurant gets.  There is just something about his sincerity and goofiness that makes it impossible to dislike him.

From my conversation with Tommy, it was also clear to me that he wants to distinguish his restaurant from others by doing things differently.  (This can also be seen from his serving of Japanese fish and unique rolls that you can't get anywhere else.)  Speaking of being unique, one thing I would love to try is the Oh My God! Roll that apparently comes lit on fire!  Kinda bummed I missed out on this one this time around.

What looks like a specials menu but all items on here are available at all times and will eventually make it to the regular menu.

And just when you think Fuji Sushi couldn't possibly BE any more awesome, I was putting on my jacket and getting ready to leave when Sook came out with a dessert for me, on the house:

Mango Mochi
OK, I'm officially a fan.

Conclusion:  Fuji Sushi rocks!

Restaurant Info:
Fuji Sushi
6091 Steubenville Pike
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
(412) 494-5544 
Website:  None for now, but possibly in the future  
N.B.: They're BYOB, no charge!

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