Reviewed by ANGELA BURLEY and JOHN BECH-HANSEN
What better way to be greeted upon entering Fukui Sushi on a brisk January evening than by the smiling faces of three sushi chefs?
We’ve actually been coming to Fukui since our two university-aged daughters were in diapers, so when the opportunity to look at Fukui in a critical light came up, it was a no-brainer. It also afforded us an opportunity to order some items outside of our usual bento box.
Despite our many years of patronizing this restaurant, one of our daughters is still discovering the pleasures of sushi and fish in general – although going to Dalhousie University in Halifax has certainly expanded her palate to include such things as raw oysters. She opted for the steak teriyaki combo, one of many non-seafood items on the menu. (Our other daughter is a fearless omnivore whose tastes extend to such marine delicacies as raw sea urchin!)
From our years of dining there, we know that Fukui offers a wonderfully consistent and reasonably-priced dining experience, and the wait staff are always polite and attentive. The restaurant is usually pretty busy too, as it was on the night we attended. The cozy and familiar atmosphere is amplified by the fact that the kitchen and sushi preparation area is at the front of the restaurant. It’s not a sleek, postmodern five-star operation like some high-end Japanese restaurants; it has the look and feel of a comfortable local neighbourhood eatery, which is exactly what it is.
We shared a number of pleasing menu items, including:
Beef Roll with Enoki Mushroom
This is a no-fail appetizer that we order every time we visit Fukui. A sweet/savoury teriyaki sauce glaze over thin strips of grilled steak wrapped around the long thin enoki mushrooms cooked to the consistency of al dente pasta. Always perfect.
Japanese Dumplings (Gyoza)
This was a new item for our family. Gyoza resemble the ‘potstickers’ typical of Chinese cuisine, the difference being these ground pork-filled dumplings are quite garlicky compared to their Chinese brethren, and lightly seasoned with salt and soy sauce. The overall texture was light and very satisfying.
This colourful and attractive appetizer presented tuna sushi with avocado slices placed on top of the roll, resembling, we would imagine, the scales of a dragon. The tuna was very fresh, as are all the sushi and sashimi at Fukui.
Steak Teriyaki Combo
This combo was the only disappointment of the evening – the steak was slightly chewy, and some of the pieces carried a bit of fatty gristle. But our seafood-shy daughter did very much enjoy the accompanying sweet potato rolls with spicy mayo. (The latter item is a substitution, which Fukui is always happy to make for pickier eaters.)
Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura
Fukui always does tempura well, with a very light and crispy batter that never tastes greasy or oily.
Udon Noodle Soup with Shrimp Tempura
This reasonably-priced menu item contained udon noodles of perfect, slightly firm consistency, again with Fukui’s excellent tempura.
One of us opted for one of the more traditional combo entrées. This combo comes with shrimp and vegetable tempura, assorted sushi (tuna, salmon, shrimp and yellowtail – although California rolls can be substituted), a miso soup starter, rice and salad with miso-ginger dressing. As always, the sushi was very fresh, and the miso soup is excellent.
As often happens when one’s eye wanders to another table, on the evening we dined at Fukui we noticed a lovely banquet of dishes arriving at a neighbouring table. When asked, our charming waitress told us it was the tasting menu, which can be ordered a day in advance and is created to your specific likes and tastes. Never knew that! While it costs a little more than the standard menu fare, we will definitely be ordering it on our next visit. 1612 Bayview Ave.