You must be quick with your chopsticks if you want to try the seaweed wrapped rolls at the city’s new Japanese address, Fuji on Chamiers Road
It’s seven o’clock at Fuji, Chennai’s latest Japanese restaurant on Chamiers Road. The long central corridor is rocking with Japanese families who throng the place as if they were at the Ginza. The men are shouting greetings and gravitating towards the Sushi bar at the far end of the Ginza corridor. The small cubicles with printed Japanese fabrics hanging at the entrance like flat noodles, are filling up with groups of Japanese men before you can say “Chicken Yakitori”. Hanging moon shaped lanterns dangle from the ceiling but for the most part the décor is minimalist.
I grab a seat to watch the fun. Small Japanese children are tearing out of their mother’s clutches screaming. Each child meticulously removes a pair of shoes and places it in a closed cubbyhole of a wall size wooden cupboard. They sit down on low tables with their mothers for a traditional Japanese style meal. There is much laughter and shouting. Chef Migita Masao, the head chef at Fuji is a specialist at Japanese style fusion cooking. He’s chosen vegetarian delicacies for us. A Japanese guest shows me how to strip the tender pods of boiled soya beans, or Edamame with my teeth before eating the beans.
“We want people to experience Japanese culture as well as the food,” explains Varun Singal, the MD of this joint Japanese Indian venture. They have already started similar restaurants in Delhi and Kolkata. There is an Indian style buffet spread at the kitchen end of the restaurant and a Sushi and Sashimi counter where the chef is placing his fresh seaweed wrap rolls and gleaming raw slices of tuna and salmon before eager customers. I realise that however polite the Japanese may be, when it comes to Sushi, you have to pick your chopsticks and attack the best you can. “You are lucky, you found the Sushi, it has run out already,” says Satosh Kamio, the Executive Vice President at the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi who is at Fuji for the inaugural dinner. “This is very authentic Japanese,” he says, sipping a bowl of miso soup. The Shinto way of life underlying Japanese culture is unique. It recognises that there is a spirit or “Kami” in all things. Creating food and sharing it with friends is one of the ways of enhancing the Kami that surrounds us.
Approx `2,500 for two. Details: 42112511
— Geeta Doctor