I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
I knew eventually more restaurants would appear after I finished the first stage of my reviews. What I didn’t expect would be that first two new arrivals would both be Sushi restaurants. Wait, that was meant to be sarcastic. Because we needed another sushi restaurant in town given the loss of Sakura and Suzuran. Maybe my depression for good sushi will be tempered by the rotation of failed businesses in this lacklustre economy, a gloomy realization. Sushi restaurants already outnumber McDonalds and Wendy’s combined; it’s getting so bad that eventually you’ll be able to travel from corner to corner of this city without every losing sight of one.
It took me a minute and a half to write that first paragraph. I’ve decided that the length of time allotted to myself to write a restaurant review should be limited to the amount of time I spend in the actual restaurant, ignoring whether or not I write the review inside the location or not. In the case of Fuji Japan, I have about seven minutes. Damn, it took me another minute to type that explanation and another few seconds typing this complaint about spending too much time writing—God damn it!
I walked out of the HSBC building looking like a make-up test-shot from Planet of the Apes (long story) and strolled across the street to the recently opened new Fuji Japan, which I swore at the time must be a chain. Yet a thorough twenty-second Google search uncovered nothing. I discovered Fuji Japan only a day earlier after exiting the nearby North 54. Around the corner was Margo’s Cafe. Three more diverse restaurants within a fifteen second walk you will never find. Fuji tries desperately to resemble a fast food chain, so much so that I actually confused it with the Edo chain of restaurants which dominate nearly every airport I have ever been to.
Upon entering, and working around the entrance chicane, I discovered an empty restaurant in the rhythms of its morning start-up sequence. The nearly unbearable stench of bubbling canola oil wafted from behind the counter. Fuji Japan isn’t exclusively sushi, an assumption you can easily make considering the word Sushi isn’t in the restaurant name. That’s a sour point I’ll get into another time. A display area usually reserved for slices of key lime pie and Oreo cheesecake is occupied by a single platter of forlorn sushi. By lunchtime, I assumed it would be full of various cuts of fish and that go perfectly well with sitting in a chilled display shelf for three hours. The menu, conveniently backlit across the wall, oversized for those like myself that forgot their glasses, plaster persuasive pictures of various Japanese and Chinese dishes, none of which I believe Fuji Japan actually offers. What I should expect would be the equivalent of a patient with Lou Gehrig’s disease attempting to replicate a Rembrandt.
While some offerings are sushi, many are bento boxes, a common staple in Japanese lunches. Hankering for sushi, I decided on one of their largest plates and was instantly shepherded to that lonesome clear plastic covered plate made with the same level of detail of those assorted vegetable platters you buy for six bucks from Superstore. This one was twelve. At least Fuji Japan has the “fast” half of “fast food” down. A minute after entering and I was paying for my meal in hand. Ten seconds later I was peeling the plastic cover off my meal in preparation for the upcoming, I guess you could call it enjoyment? It’s not a good sign when you have to peel anything off your plate prior to eating it. I only expect that in a moment of desperation forcing me to spend seven dollars on a saran-wrapped-flavoured chicken Caesar wrap from a Petro-Canada refrigerator. It’s a larger plate in defense, but five minutes after sitting down, I was done. I had no other distractions. There were no other customers and the TVs weren’t turned on until after my last swallow. The nigiri were cut to proper size and the California roll was average, so it’s depressing to say Fuji Japan kept its quality with its like-themed competition about town.
I don’t think I’m being subtle in my disappointment with Fuji Japan but I have reserved some praise, specifically given competition. I’d go to here over driving/walking three blocks to Wasabi Sushi which I reviewed quite some time ago. And if your life is bound by a high caloric per minute ratio, I would still chose Fuji over the dreary and painful Margo’s Cafe, but all these places are peons against the regality of North 54. I mean given the price of that sushi platter, it’s only a few dollars more for a high quality made to order meal from one of the best restaurants in town.
The average quality of Sushi in Prince George is dropping. Fast. With the loss of Suzuran and Sakura, I may have to give up my desire for weekly injections of jaw fish. Thankfully this blog has allotted me various non-Japanese alternatives.
PS: Urbanspoon currently lists 3 votes for Fuji Japan, all rating it positive. Those…are employees.