by Robert Forrest
I emailed to ask if there was anything they could not eat, before booking a sushi restaurant near I heir hotel. “Sushi,” came the reply the next day. But I need not have worried, for Fukuzushi endows its reputation for excellent fish carpaccio, as I neatly sold it to them, with a separate menu of warm dishes. It was the perfect introduction to Japanese food for close family friends on their first trip to Tokyo. Co-dining with us at this Roppongi establishment was, of course, Co-diner, but not until she had explained how useless my sense of direction was to our esteemed guests. Utterly convinced that I had memorized the whereabouts of Fukuzushi from the website, I set off the previous day to locate it. But after several streets and muttered confusion to passers-by in tattered Japanese, I could only conclude that the map was wrong. Fukuzushi is in fact behind Hard Rock Café not the Midtown side of Roppongi Crossing I had previously explored. But why would you opt for burgers when you can have such fabulous fish instead?
But why would you opt for burgers
when you can have such fabulous fish instead?
The only question was whether it would reach our mouths—I had neglected to forewarn that an aptitude for chopsticks might be a necessary part of dining in Tokyo. Perhaps it was lucky we were not so far from I lard Rock after all.
Our first plate was sautéed snapper, a snappy name for a stunning entrée that made the hashi frenzy worthwhile. Each wet with flavor and coated in crisp crumbs, I was desperate for the conversation to lull to get them in hot, though as I found out, they were still deliciously warm. Co-diner ordered for us and the next plate was more adventurous: deep-fried soft-shell crab whose claws reached out as if in a last protest to the hot oil. Despite the name, I was still puzzled that there should be no crunch and struggled to even find crispness. That came with the tempura next, a welcome addition to the menu as we tried to cram as much variety as table and chopsticks could handle.
For those living here, tempura borders ubiquity, so it was wonderful to see the face of someone taking their first bite through the pale yellow batter into the crump of shrimp beneath. However, it also held a mirror to the glutton I have become. Izakaya culture can cause selfishness, as each diner claws at plates as soon as they arrive. If this Japanese cuisine is all-for-one, then to dine with well-mannered English reminded me of the one-for-all attitude I had left two years and ten thousand miles ago. Thus three shrimps were evenly divided between four, leaving the remaining aubergine, mushroom, and hake to be split between “after you”s and “you go first”s. Aubergine reappeared as we veered towards the next course—and the subject of marriage, when I could hardly proffer enough to fill mouths with food in place of questions and suggestions. It didn’t take much persuading, however, and the topic was gently nudged under napkins as we silently indulged in rich miso and chicken-mince eggplant.
The first sushi then appeared: two dozen maki filled with maguro and cucumber with sesame seed and—as was quickly discovered— wasabi. Of course being English, we have the benefit of childhoods spent dipping sausages into Coleman’s mustard, though I confess to never having smeared it on fish. Perhaps there’s potential for Anglo-Japanese cuisine yet. Until then, Fukuzushi remains a decent starting place for Tokyo newcomers or indeed anyone who wants to enjoy a range of seafood at reasonable prices. But make sure you are on the correct side of the crossing.
Best table: Ask for the booth if you’re in a group, otherwise sit at the counter and watch the preparation. Prices: sushi dinner menu from ¥6,000 to ¥8.000, hot dishes available a la carte. Location: behind Hard Rock Café in Roppongi. Definitely not near Midtown.
Open 11:30-2pm and 5:30-11pm