Whatever Vicki my dining idol and I are, it apparently isn’t Office Ladies. Recently we had plans to meet for lunch at FujiYama, the Japanese restaurant located in the historic Devenish building on Uptown 17th. It’s a very white, Zen-feeling space, comprised mostly of tables with a small sushi bar in the centre. We had a reservation that turned out to be unnecessary, as it’s a big space that didn’t fill up at any point throughout the lunch hour.
Vicki was running a little late on that particular day, and I was left to wait and scan the menu. In addition to sushi and sashimi, FujiYama offers a good selection of tempura, teriyaki, noodles and bento box combinations. One in particular that caught my eye was called the “OL Special”. Wondering what the “OL” stood for, I read further and burst out laughing when I saw that it was an “assortment of low-calorie sushi for office ladies”. Needless to say, neither this restaurant writer, nor my dining idol are big on counting calories, and I will not be regaling you with details of the OL Special.
Instead, we each selected a box that offered a choice of two entrées with rice, salad, and soup for $11.95. The salad was basic spring greens, with a house dressing that can best be described as a watered-down Thousand Island. Though that’s the best description, it probably isn’t flattering enough. The dressing is actually quite tasty, so much so that Vicki enthused she would buy it for use at home if it was offered for sale. Likewise, the miso soup was good, with the tofu diced so finely that it started to melt into the broth.
For our entrées, we chose the beef yakiniku, gyoza, chicken kushiage, and shrimp tempura. Vicki’s done more extensive searches for kushiage than I have, and she swears that FujiYama is one of the only spots in Calgary that offers it. Since that is the case, it’s fortunate that they do it well, with the chicken skewered and fried in crispy tempura. Likewise, the shrimp tempura was nicely done, though the batter on it is styled into spikes, whereas it’s smooth on the kushiage. The beef was well-cut, and tender. As for the gyoza, though the pork filling wasn’t especially flavourful, they did have good dough-to-filling ratio. No one likes doughy gyoza.
Though this was certainly enough food for lunch, we aren’t no calorie-counting office ladies, and shared a butterfly roll as well. Consisting of a tempura prawn (more fried goodness), mayo, cucumber and masago (capelin roe), the butterfly was a tasty inside-out roll. A particularly nice touch were the mirin-roasted sesame seeds garnishing the roll which added a touch of sweetness.
Overall, we enjoyed our experience. The service is friendly, although not that attentive, as our glasses were empty long before we were offered refills. The food is tasty, and the value is definitely evident. Though there are definitely sushi bars with more innovative rolls, FujiYama offers good Japanese in two convenient locations for office ladies, and all the rest of us.
On the ratings scale:
3.5 out of 5 Stars
FujiYama Japanese Restaurant
Basement, 908 17 Avenue SW
118A 5 Avenue SE