475 Driggs Ave (right off of the L train in Williamsburg)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Doesn’t look like NYC right? Fushimi is a gigantic restaurant (in NYC terms) tucked a couple streets behind the Bedford Ave stop on the L train in Williamsburg. I wouldn’t have known about it had I not been invited to sample their menu recently. I brought LAW along with me who also played Mr. Photographer for me. And let me tell you, it was quite an experience.
The place is decorated like a lounge. Red and blue lights everywhere. I was told to ask for Sunny when I got in. So I did, and the hostess said, “you must be Tiffany,” as she curtsied/bowed to me. Service is serious. We waited for a couple minutes before Sunny showed up in a tight-fitted suit.
He brought us to our table, which was in a booth with red tassels that hung off the top rim of the ceiling. The decor was very stereotypically “Asian” – I almost felt like I was in Hong Kong at a mafia-run lounge. Sunny had the chef prepare us a special menu that included some specials they planned to debut over Mother’s Day weekend. The food is fusion, which is often way too sweet and drenched in sauces for me. Fushimi was different, and was less fusion than French-inspired Japanese food. Sunny also explained that a lot of people tend to think of Japanese food as just raw fish, which he tries to dispel through Fushimi’s menu. Fushimi’s menu is therefore mostly cooked food. Something Sunny hopes will appeal more to Westerners or older folks who are not used to eating raw foods.
All the menu items are Japanese inspired but certainly don’t stay within the realm of Japanese food. LAW started with the West Meets East cocktail ($10), which is a whiskey based cocktail that is very, very strong. Definitely a good deal given the quality of the drink.
I started with the Yuzu Citrus Martini, which is a deeeelicious girly drink. Yuzu is a citrus fruit commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It kind of tastes like a grapefruit and mandarin orange hybrid… very great for a cocktail because the bitterness cuts out the alcohol flavor.
The prawns were ginormous. The photo doesn’t do it justice because you have nothing to compare it to. The prawn was sweet, tender, and very meaty on the inside. I couldn’t really taste the macadamia crust but the coconut added a nice flakey texture to the crust. Good stuff.
We then had the Lobster Tartar ($18), which was a mixture of steamed lobster with lemon butter and sunflower seeds topped with lemon pineapple marmalade, Asian pear, roasted peppers, and quail egg yolk. The lobster was very fresh and sweet. I didn’t even really notice the sunflower seeds… The dish is actually very simple tasting, despite the intense “gourmet” presentation.
The only roll we had (to my disappointment!!) was this Out of Control roll ($14.50) with yellowtail, tuna, salmon, and asparagus, topped with seared yellowtail, salmon, tuna, spicy miso, saikyo miso, eel sauce, and crispy rice pearls. That’s a TON of ingredients for a roll. Very not traditional Japanese. Surprisingly, it wasn’t overwhelming and actually tasted really great. The asparagus added a crunch and fresh flavor to the fish and rice. Next time I come, I definitely want to get more rolls. The roll reminded me of the makis you get out in California, something that I think is lacking in New York. The makis in New York are generally uncreative or just not good. New York does traditional Japanese better (see Kura for my fave!).
We then had the Roasted Cod ($24) with a brunoise of spring vegetables, guchujang (a spicy Korean soybean sauce) creme sauce and crispy risotto balls, cauliflower puree, calamari tempura, and carrot confit. The menu description is way more pretentious than the dish actually tasted. This is kind of a pet peeve of mine, when descriptions are unnecessarily fancy. The fish was actually also pretty plain. The cod, though fresh (Sunny assured us), was overcooked and a little dry. The guchujang creme sauce was unmemorable, and not spicy at all (as the chef expected it to be). Risotto balls were pretty good – probably the best part of the dish. If you’re gonna make cod, you have to bring out the best of cod, which is the buttery, flakeyness of the fish.
So glad our tasting menu included some veggies. This is the Organic Kale Salad ($7) with shaved parmesan cheese, croutons, and creamy lemon dressing. It was very lightly dressed so you only really got a hint of lemon. Really great, fresh kale dish.
A less normal salad, this is the Uni and Toro Salad ($18) with seasonal market greens, charred heart of romaine, Asian pear dice, deviled quail eggs with caviar, carrot confit, yuzu wasabi vinaigrette and toasted seaweed. Again, a crap ton of ingredients. It was quite pretty with all the colors and veggies. Looked like a garden. The uni and toro were hidden gems in the bed of greens. Quality of the uni and toro were so-so, especially since really good stuff is pretty accessible these days.
Our final savory dish was the Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb ($30) dusted with seven spices, Dijon mustard, marinated vegetables, served over crispy mashed potatoes. There is nothing Japanese about this dish, so I was skeptical when the server brought this over at first. I also find it hard to eat lamb (this is my greatest downfall as a foodie), so didn’t expect that I would like it. HOWEVER, it was DELICIOUS. REALLY great rack of lamb. The spices on top with the mustard really hid the gaminess of the lamb. Lamb was seared just right, keeping in all the moisture while adding a nice crispy crust on the outside. Crispy mashed potatoes were on point as well, similar to the fried risotto balls.
Sunny had us try two desserts. He was very honest and said that most of the desserts are actually not made in-house because the chef’s focus is not desserts. This one, however, is made in house, and is pretty damn good. This is the housemade Yuzu Panna Cotta ($9) with fresh berries and raspberry sauce. The panna cotta is the typical creamy, smooth, light dessert that we all know too well. The top layer is a very tart yuzu jelly. A spoonful of both is really, really refreshing. Again, yuzu is like a combo of grapefruit and mandarin orange. It’s such a great flavor that should be used more widely! I kind of want to learn how to make this…
The second dessert was the Trio of Creme Brulée ($8): green tea, coffee, and vanilla respectively. The creme part of it was solid. Light, creamy, and actually very infused with flavor (the coffee one was almost like espresso). However, the dish was too shallow, and I felt like the caramelized sugar to creme ratio was off. It was like a 1:2, when it should have been more like a 1:5 or 6. It was like eating rock candy with a bit of cream. Not the biggest fan.
Overall, the food was surprisingly good. Like I said, fusion Asian cuisine rarely impresses me, but I can tell that Fushimi is striving for something greater. I really would call it French inspired Japanese, rather than fusion. The decor would probably feel a little tacky to the more design savvy New Yorker, but is probably on point for another crowd. The space is very large, so I can see many fun birthdays (remember, they have great strong drinks) and events being held here. I didn’t have to pay for my meal, but the price is mostly reasonable I think. $14.50 for a fancier roll is pretty standard. $10 for a drink is a steal. $30 for a lamb entree feels out of place, given the other smaller plates ($9 kale and $15 prawn?). Also, a section of the menu changes every two weeks, as the restaurant encourages the chef to experiment. Pretty cool.
If you’re into non-traditional Asian food, and are planning to host a large party, I would definitely recommend giving Sunny a call. He’ll take very good care of you.