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360 degrees Japanese

From a quick, flash Express Lunch to an extended buffet service, Fujiyama really is pulling out the stops in Japanese dining

360 degrees Japanese

Perched like an eagle, this restaurant has been sitting on Avari’s rooftop since the last 25 years. And although Fujiyama needs no introduction, its new Express Lunch Bento Box certainly does.

Minutes after I arrived I was presented with a mildly flavoured green tea – a hugely accepted benefitting tea in Asian countries. I had roughly an hour with me when I decided to quickly peek at this lunch deal before heading off to meet a client. And without going through the comprehensive and the very usual menu available at Fujiyama, I ordered the Express lunch on the maître d’s advice.

Timed on my watch, the expansive meal arrived in front of me within twelve minutes. A golden thick coil of prawn tempura frayed from the box and right opposite there were chunks of cucumbers and tomatoes basking in a special house-made dressing. The box contained an array of items and my eyes refused to stick to just one. Moving from right to left I started this little journey of my ‘Express yet Expansive’ meal.

The Nama Yasi Salad, which was shredded cabbage and chunks of cucumber and tomatoes, smelled of freshness and I smiled to myself as I forked in; the special house-made dressing is the same white sauce that is drizzled on most of their side salads, but it was cold and soothing, like always.

Neighbouring the salad was a compartment, which housed some lazy slivers of grilled salted fish and chunky strips of Beef Teriyaki. The fish was indeed salted, well-cooked and flaky; the beef was surprisingly tender and not doused in teriyaki sauce, which was definitely an up for me. Meaty and browned, this compartment certainly lacked colour. On their own, both fish and beef would have fared well, however next to each other they seemed like unhappy spouses.

DC5B2719Next on I met chunks of deep fried chicken, a massive prawn tempura and vegetables fried in tempura batter. This golden, fried to perfection package was beautiful to look at and the accompanying dipping sauces indicated thought! Yet a whole box of fried items certainly didn’t keep my attention for long. I tasted each and every item though. The chicken was moist, prawn was tender and vegetables were crisp. Certainly a haven for those who love dipping and dunking!

Last but the most comforting sight was a mound of generously garlicky, glutinous rice. I dug into it many times whilst moving between my food items and it tasted delicious whether accompanied or a loner. The miso soup, a soothing mixture of dashi, tofu and seaweed, was perfect to start and end the meal with. Not to mention the Kono Mono Japanese Pickles which were neatly snuggled into the meal in colourful variations.

Fit for two, this express lunch is priced at Rs. 1495 plus tax and offers generous portions, soothing soup, delicious dippings and sauces. I only wish there were more of veggie varieties rather than zoning in on meat items; this meal would have lasted me for two days.

And guess what? Precisely after those two days I indulged in yet another meal at Fujiyama, this time with company and soon after sunset. My partner and I walked into a foray of strong garlic aroma, busy attendants, sounds of prawns crackling in their tempura batter and subtle bangs at the teppanyaki counter.

The place had transformed into a buzzing buffet laden area, with the head chef on the floor, directing and observing the huge display of Japanese food. A sushi bar, salad selection, about a dozen savouries including rice and noodles and a huge variety of desserts…my heart, gastric juices and eyes kept darting back and forth trying to find a stable station where I could begin my journey.

The ‘Captain’ of the floor – yes that is what he was called – assisted us immediately to our table and offered green tea and miso soup. Taking in some warm, mildly flavoured soup I headed off to start with salads. I was most excited to see steamed gyozas hiding behind the salads and immediately forked in a couple onto my plate. With a failed attempt to keep my helpings small, since I wanted to try most of the items on display, I also spooned in a couple of deep, rustish red Nana Wings. With much delight I have to confess that the wings were tender, mildly spiced and thankfully did not taste of ketchup. The gyozas were steamed well, with mild filling however I would have preferred more dipping sauces than just one single bowl of light soy. Meanwhile my partner had taken some fresh sashimi which he thought was perhaps a tad bit chunky; the rest seemed fine on his front.DC5B2727

With the starters hitting off well we then went off to chose from the mains, which had a variety of fish, beef, prawns, chicken and a couple of vegetarian dishes. The last time I had udon noodles was in Singapore so naturally I forked into thick chewy udon strands with chicken and vegetables, put in a piece of beef negimiyaki and some fresh Yasi Salad with special house-made dressing. Whilst the udons were flavourful, the Beef Negimiyaki disappointed me with its lack of flavor. The Nama Yasi Salad was fresh and delicious as usual.

Sitting opposite me, my partner was dunking into some Beef Teppanyaki and Veal chops, again whilst the former was chewy and leather-like the veal chops were cooked well and loads of garlicky bits made it aromatic, earthy and tender. Yet again I missed some supremely cooked vegetarian dishes; even the two out of the three salads were meat based though the Tuna Salad was indeed an explosion of flavours with flash grilled tuna pieces topped with sweet teriyaki sauce and a dollop of Japanese mayo.

With ingesting so much I hardly had any space for dessert. Also, the dessert variety reminded me of some local wedding occasion where there is an array of cut up fruit, multicolored cakes, pastries and jelly filled trifles. The only item that maintained my attention was a chocolate fondue with small profiteroles and marshmallows.

Priced at Rs. 3000 plus tax, this Japanese buffet, which is put up at dinner time from Friday to Sunday is certainly a treat for those who have the appetite for unlimited fresh makis, sashimi, meat-based teppenyakis, vegetable and seafood tempura, warm aromatic garlic rice and fresh salads (and disappointing desserts). A nice cold fruit sorbet, or a creamy scoop of in-house ice cream would have done wonders for me instead of jelly, custard and pink cream laden cakes.

With good value for money, a large variety of savoury dishes and well informed staff, Fujiyama has established its foothold with some hefty lunch and dinner deals yet I personally feel they have slacked on vegetarian dishes and is certainly not up to the mark with its dessert selection.

– The author is an avid foodie and can be followed on twitter @capturebyst

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