In Miami, it’s sometimes hard to find a restaurant that specializes in one specific type of cuisine. Being the melting pot that it is, a lot of restaurants end up being “fusion” restaurants, or restaurants that offer dishes that originated in different countries. “Latin” restaurants will usually be a combination of Cuban cuisine and any other popular dishes from Latin American countries. Colombian restaurants might offer Venezuelan dishes and vice-versa (although, given the similarities in the cuisine, this is fairly justifiable). And, rarely do you find an Asian restaurant that isn’t a combination of at least two types of Asian cuisine (Japanese-Thai, Sushi and Korean, Vietnamese and Thai, etc.). It’s not impossible, but it’s just not very common.
So, after a bad experience with a sushi order from the local Sushi-Thai joint that I normally ordered from, I started looking around for alternatives. I found Fujiya on Kendall Drive and 137th Avenue through a fairly brief search on Yelp, and was convinced by the high reviews to give them a shot. That, and the fact that they were a straight Japanese restaurant and not mixed with something else. So, the next time that a sushi craving struck, I made my way over there. It’s in a tiny shopping center that’s kind of a pain to get into if you’re coming from the West, as it requires an awkward U-turn on Kendall Drive to reach the entrance.
Fujiya has the standard “diner” feel to it, despite the tables being covered with linen. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by someone on the staff and, when you’re seated, they bring you a hot towel to clean your hands with. They also bring you a small dish of sunomono, Japanese cucumber salad. In addition to cucumber, their version contains tomato, and sometimes mango or other fruits. The tang of the vinegar in the dressing is cut by sugar and a drizzle of sesame oil. A great way to get your palate ready for what’s to come.
The measure of a Japanese/sushi restaurant often comes from the quality of their fish. Sashimi, therefore, is an ideal litmus test for whether or not a place is worth its salt. In additional to the beautiful plating, all three types of fish in their sashimi appetizer (salmon, tuna, and hamachi) were exceptionally fresh and melted in your mouth.
With sushi, I like to keep it simple. I don’t need a roll with 10 different ingredients to appease me, especially when the ingredients are well-prepared. These salmon rolls were simple, yet satisfying.
The star of the meal, though, was the chicken katsu roll. It is a roll that contains breaded and fried chicken, avocado, and cream cheese. If you are a sushi purist that thinks that sushi should be seafood only, then I urge you to reconsider and try this roll. The roll is intended to be served with a cilantro mayo and eel sauce, both of which I declined (we all know how I feel about mayo). While I am sure that the sauces elevate it to new heights, the roll without the sauce is still strong enough to stand on its own. The chicken is fried to a great crispness without drying it out, so each bite of the roll is an orchestra of creamy from the avocado and cream cheese, crunch from the chicken, and chewy from the rice and nori.
Service is always warm and inviting at Fujiya, like a family-owned restaurant usually is. I will definitely be a repeat customer!