Where Jay’s used to offer multinational cuisines, Fugu focuses solely on contemporary Japanese dining – sushi, hibachi and teriyaki.
Like Jay’s, the breadth and depth of the menu offerings are impressive. One thing missing from the menu, however, is the eponymous blowfish.
The variety is perfect for groups of diners who fall on differing spots along the adventurous dining scale.
Although you are not going to find a cheeseburger on the menu, there are choices like shrimp, chicken or vegetable tempura; Tatsuta-Age, described as fried chicken tenders (ask if they are prepared traditionally and have been marinated); fried rice; a number of vegetable sushi options and, of course, hibachi and teriyaki, which are in most people’s comestible comfort zone.
For the Anthony Bourdains in the group, there are things to challenge your taste buds – like salmon skin salad, grilled baby octopus, barbecued eel over rice and flavored milk bubble tea.
On a recent visit, my dining companion, Caroline Evans, and I settled upon Bento Box lunch specials – Miso soup, salad, white rice, a California roll (a cooked sushi roll with crab meat, avocado and cucumber) and the choice of an appetizer and an entrée for $8.95. It was like four meals for the price of one.
Evans chose edamame and teriyaki chicken, and I had the Gyoza (fried chicken and pork dumplings) and at our server’s suggestion, Beef Negimaki (scallion and cheese, wrapped in thinly sliced beef).
An avowed picky eater, Evans was pleased with her choices. She appreciated that her chicken was not overly salty, but wished that it had a little more kick.
The Gyoza were OK, but a little greasy. I enjoyed the beef, which was served in cut rolls, giving it a sushi-esque appearance. The scallion flavor played well against the pungent sauce and the beef, but I could not detect the cheese. The vegetables served on the side were very nice.
For tasting and leftover purposes, I ordered chicken fried rice. The presentation, as with everything else at Fugu, was spot on. It was served formed in a bowl encircled with fresh orange slices. Evans appreciated the simplicity of the dish, but I missed the veggies that I think of as integral ingredients, especially onion.
The California rolls were tasty and beautifully formed, leaving me ready to go back and explore the sushi side of the menu.
Although the lunch special was a bargain, the coffee, surprisingly, came at Starbucks’ prices – $2.50 a cup.
That aside, my advice is do not forgo Fugu for an outing. It is comfortable for a casual lunch yet elegant enough for a date night.