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Tuesday, July 28, 1998

Sushi to savor

Posted on Tue, Jul 28, 1998 at 4:00 AM

What do soft-shell crabs have in common with the Orlando Magic? Sports fans could debate this for hours, but the answer is: They're on the menu at Fuji Sushi – sort of.

This new restaurant near the busy crossroads of Lee Road and Highway 17-92 offers some of the most sumptuous sushi in the Winter Park area, and they name it after local points of interest. So the "Orlando Magic roll" ($8.95) is prepared with soft-shell crab and chopped vegetables. The "Lee Road roll" ($5.95) contains eel and salmon skin. The "Rollins roll" ($4.95) offers crab, avocado, cucumbers with a tempura batter.

The names and ingredients don't always match up, or even make sense, but when the sushi is this good, who cares? Dining here was a rediscovery of how sensual sushi can be. Really good sushi, the kind served at Fuji, is dense in texture, yet light and oceanic in its flavors. A little bit goes a long way and is immensely satisfying.

As a prelude to dinner, we enjoyed the "Fuji roll" ($7.95). Each slice was plump and heavy, packed with an array of hamachi, eel, scallions, cucumbers and asparagus. It was rolled in sesame seeds and flying-fish eggs for a blaze of atomic-orange color. Another appetizing variety is the "rock and roll" ($7.95), with tuna, eel, crab, asparagus and scallions. As a clever touch, the sliced rolls were cradled on the deck of a polished miniature boat platter.

Moving along to soups and salads, we preferred osumashi ($1), clear fish broth, although the miso soup ($1) was not bad, with its soy-bean broth. We couldn't resist the hijiki ($4), a warm salad of black seaweed that had an intriguing smokiness. Of everything we ordered, this was the item that caused dueling chopsticks. A close second was ika karage ($4), strips of garlic-battered squid meat, then deep fried.

Out of curiosity, we tried the "Japanese curry" platter ($11.95), a medley of seafood, vegetables and rice in a mild sauce. It was OK but served as a reminder that curry is best saved for Indian restaurants.

Adding to our enjoyment, the decor is simple and subdued. Lustrous wood partitions envelop the tables and make them seem utterly private, and the primary lighting comes from a single rice paper lantern.

The service is sensitive and responsive. A glance from across the room brought someone immediately to the table. Fuji Sushi pays attention to detail – and it shows.


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