Desperately seeking sushi in Tacoma (report)
The title says it all. Just moved to Tacoma and still adjusting and figuring out the lay of the restaurant land. I've tried a few places, but don't really plan to go back to any of them -- I mean one place actually ran out of rice!
Saram, Tacoma does not possess a sushi restaurant on the level of Shiro's in Seattle, Given that, your best bets are Fujiya downtown. (Always packed you'll need reservations.) Serviceable and friendly is Sapporo in Fife. While Tacoma is weak on Sushi, we have world class Thai at Indochine. (Also downtown and you will need reservations.) IndoChine's tuna offering is a destination dish not to be missed.
I am not a sushi connosseur (sp?) but my sister is and claims that the hole in the wall place I Love Bento has quite good sushi. It may not be up to Seattle standard, but she liked it quite a bit. It's tucked into the Mildred and 19th street shopping center next to Fred Meyer.
I've had terrible service at Fujiya but have liked the down-home feel (and taste, if that's possible for sushi) of Sushi Tama on 6th Ave.
With much anticipation, we tried Fujiya. Now, I noticed while I was there that the restaurant has been there for 20 years . . . so either they had a REALLY off night or I'm in big trouble if this is the best Tacoma has to offer. The location is great (I like how they are off the street), the atmosphere in general is fine (the stained-glass windows are nice), and although the service is a little lagging, we did like our server. However, the food was disappointing.
The meal started poorly with the edamame, which was overcooked, I'm sure partly due to the fact they were served piping hot (ouch!). With something like edamame, where there is a fine line between perfect and overcooked, it is usually a good idea to douse them with cold water to stop the cooking. These poor soybeans just kept getting steamed, so by the time they arrived at our table, they were mushy and dry. Then the miso. Such a deceptively simple soup, but when done well, it is a broth for buddha. First it was served way too hot, just shy of boiling (2 for 2 ouch!). We had to wait quite a while just to be able to handle the bowl. It was too salty, oily (a new miso experience), and flat. We also ordered the crab and cucumber salad. There is nothing really to say about that except that it was fake crab (nothing necessarily wrong with that; there are some moments when I really want some of that fake crab salad from the grocery store deli) and stringy. STRINGY! And bland. Hooboy.
Ok, on to the fish. That is what we are there for after all. Our server recommended the Shiro Maguro since they did not have Toro, and that was the best thing we had all night. The first order was very enjoyabe. Very smooth and subtly rich. We liked it so much, we ordered some more, upon which my dinner partner was literally overwhelmed by a 7 minute unanticipated wasabi high, which meant he did not taste the fish at all (triple ouch!). Being forewarned, I lifted the fish off the rice and scraped off about 1/2 teaspoon of wasabi, leaving just about the right amount. We also tried Maguro (bland), Hamachi (bland and slightly sinewy), Salmon (sliced so thinly it was breaking apart on the rice and overpowered by the heavy wasabi hand of the sushi chef), Unagi (too much sauce which almost completely obscured the taste of the eel). No one really thinks about the rice, but it is SO important. Correctly made, sushi rice is supposed to stick together and this rice was falling apart all over my plate. At this point in my meal, I was still hungry, but I couldn't justify ordering any more fish since it all tasted pretty much blandly the same, except for the Shiro, which I would recommend.
Fellow chowhounds, tell me, did Fujiya just have a bad night and should I give them another chance? I am seriously in sushi withdrawal here! I'll try the other recommendations and report back.
By the way, I didn't go to bed hungry. We stopped for a beer and fries on the way home.
I'd say it was a really off night. There was a period where it went downhill a bunch and I'd say you were there right in the middle of that. I think a bunch of the chefs carefully trained staff quit to start Two Koi just two blocks away and much more expensive. I bet that kind of betrayal really knocks you down.
Right around that time I got a super moldy smelling hot cloth at the beginning of the mean and rubbed it all over my face and hands before I noticed and it was really gross. That said, I think things are back on track.
They are the only place in Tacoma that begins your stay with the very Japanese tradition of bringing you a hot cloth to refresh yourself with.
The chef/owner is Japanese and the food is fresh and delicious. They always send over something complimentary-usually a tasty cold noodle salad.
Everything I've had there is good with some greatness. The servers are cute and friendly and the chef is really happy if you thank him in Japanese, "Go chee so sawma desh tah". (That is a traditional Japanese saying that means, "It was a feast") Practice before you go-it'll be fun!
I'm an occasional visitor to the Tacoma area (my folks just relocated up here,) and haven't had the chance to try Fujiya. On the recommendation of some Japanese locals, we had lunch at the oddly-named "Gari of Sushi" on 38th just east of I-5. Ignore the strange exterior and terrible location; the interior is quite nice and the sushi is pretty good. The place supposedly handles crowds poorly, though, (the sushi chef works solo for quality reasons,) so be prepared to wait patiently.