Restaurant Review: Fuji-Ya

Tucked away in a small space at the corner of Divisidero and Geary in San Francisco is a little place which offers what may be the finest sushi in the world. Perhaps it was because it was my first time eating sushi, but Godzilla’s will forever be the best in my mind. It was also a dinner the cemented my now 20-year friendship with the High-Energy Bond Guy.  HBG and I were among the Friday night crowd trying to get into the place.

Divisadero and Geary is a bustling corner and Godzilla’s is a pretty small place so when they fill their 20 or so seats, the waiting crowd spills out onto the sidewalk.  HBG and I were among the Friday night crowd standing curbside to get into the place and the whole thing had a festival feeling.

In addition to the delicious tuna sashimi, the tender edamame was infused with just the right amount of saltiness, and I will forever be grateful for having been introduced to wasabi, truly one of the world’s most fabulous creations.

A few years later, I was staying and working in Knightsbridge, in a place just around the corner from Harvey Nick’s. It’s then that sushi became a staple of my diet.    On the fifth floor of HN’s is their famous food court and I would often run over there to have a rolls for lunch at Yo! Sushi. Yo! Sushi is a Kaiten-zushi restaurant, where plates of food come by on a conveyor belt.  You grab what you want, stack up the plates then hail the waitress who comes over to count them up, does the math (colors on the plates indicate different prices for the dish), and gives you your tab.  The food court had terrific atmosphere.  The great energy of one of the world’s great cities could always be felt at that counter and I had lunch there frequently enough to become a recognized regular.

There’s something terrific about being a regular.  They know your name, your preferred table, and, if they’re good, know enough to let you know what special things are on hand that you’ll care about.

Here in Saint Paul I’ve had trouble finding that place where I could return frequently without tiring of it – until Fuji-Ya opened at the corner of Wabasha and West Seventh a few years ago.  Like Godzilla’s, it’s a smallish space that provides an intimate atmosphere.  It fills up quickly providing a nice buzzing energy without feeling crowded.

Sit at the sushi bar, if possible, where ordering is quickest and you’ll get your sushi as soon as it’s ready.  Be sure to order the Wasabi Crunchy, a roll with cucumber, shrimp in a spicy mayo covered with wasabi tobiko flakes. The decor is bamboo-meets-bang and olufsen and the “Godzilla vs Mothra” movie playing on the big-screen plasma near the bar adds a hip-kitsch vibe to the whole experience. This is a place where you can pop in, be certain of a terrific meal, and simply enjoy the experience.  This is a place for regulars.

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