BY MARTHA JEONG
For those of you unable to make the trek out to Chestnut Hill to dine at the famed sushi haunt Oishii, notorious for its 13 seat B.Y.O.B. dining room and long, long waits, a trip to Brookline may be the next best thing.
Pick up the 66 bus at Harvard Square and a take a short, relatively painless 20 minute ride into Brookline, then hop off at Coolidge Corner. Take a left turn at Beacon, walk five minutes towards Boston, and you will find yourself at the doors to Fugakyu. Sure, the name may sound slightly offensive, but there is nothing off-putting about the dining experience here, except for perhaps the rotating fake sushi display, but more on that later.
After reading high ratings by Zagat’s and notable local reviewers, including sushi fanatics, my friend and I put aside the fact we weren’t going to Oishii and tried our luck at Fugakyu. As Zagat’s promised a Disneyland-like ambience, we were slightly mystified what this would entail at a Japanese restaurant. When we arrived, we found to our disappointment that no costumed creatures greeted us; there was no cheerful “It’s a Small World After All” playing in the background while we dined; and definitely no monorail we could see that linked the dining rooms together. Instead, there were kimono-clad waitresses traveling to and from multiple rooms made of honey colored wood and bamboo in the two-floored restaurant. Aside from the private party rooms, diners can opt to sit at the sushi bar, at tables, or on the floor in little rooms with sliding paper doors. They even built little pits under the tables so diners can comfortably leave their legs dangling and not run the risk of cutting off all circulation while gracefully sitting Yoga-style throughout the entire meal.
The motorized boats which ran around the sushi bar toting plastic sushi were neither enlightening nor inspiring, but the live-tank sashimi which lined the back of the bar promised that the fish we were about to eat would be nothing but the freshest. No matter how you slice it, good sushi and even bad sushi will cost a pretty penny. The sushi/sashimi combination is probably the best value for lunch, offering thick, generous slices of tuna, fluke and striped bass with accompanying rolls of sushi along with miso soup, salad and fruit. My friend had one piece of my Spicy Yellowtail Maki (chopped yellowtail, tempura crumbs, spicy mayo and scallions) and pronounced it a party in his mouth. In addition to the 20 plus traditional rolls, house specialties were enticing: Sake Papaya Maki (fried papaya, cream cheese topped with a layer of smoked salmon, lemon sauce & wasabi tobikko); Baked Yellowtail Maki (fried sweet potato, baby carrot & cucumber topped with layer of yellowtail, scallion & eel sauce, baked to perfection), and for those who are truly adventurous, you can’t skip the Uno Coco Maki (mango, cream cheese & tempura crumb, topped with a layer of eel, coconut flakes and homemade sweet & spicy sauce).
And for non-sushi eaters, why you would read to the end of my review baffles me, but in any case you can’t go wrong with the diversely creative menu at Fugakyu which has a variety of meat, vegetable, noodle, rice, katsu (bread-crumbed and deep-fried seafood or meat), tempura, shioyaki (broiled seafood) and teriyaki delights to please all. The Tenzaru noodle dish is a perfect light lunch or a great accompaniment to share with sushi; cold buckwheat noodles arrive with side of crisp, lightly battered shrimp & vegetable tempura. The noodles are served with a special cold sweet soy sauce, to which one can add scallions, wasabi and quail egg for taste. Definitely not a place to budget eat, but a nice location for a long lunch with a sushi-loving companion or a night out with a group of friends who can stand to blow a little cash on some fabulous fish and sake.
Fugakyu(617) 734-12681280 Beacon Street(cross with Harvard Street)66 bus to Coolidge Corner or Green lineDaily 11:30am to 1:30am