It’s all about the crunchy crab in the stunning spider roll.
When you first step into Fuji Sushi and Hibachi in Middleton, you’ll be asked if you want to sit in the hibachi room or the dining room. The hibachi room is the place to be, where chefs cook your meal on a griddle right in front of the table.
Watch as the chef does magic tricks with his utensils! As the chef tosses that piece of broccoli, try to catch it in your mouth. It’s entertainment, plus a delicious meal that includes soup, salad, fried rice dotted with onion, red bell pepper and egg, grilled fresh veggies, two jumbo shrimp and your choice of meat. The chicken, calamari and filet mignon (cooked to perfection at medium rare) were all excellent.
But if you’re not in the mood for hibachi, there are plenty of other options from the menu. There are appetizers, like crab rangoon and coconut shrimp, that are not standard Japanese cuisine. The chicken lettuce wraps make a nice starter and can almost be a lunch on their own. Wok-seared chicken with a hint of teriyaki is mixed with mushrooms, green onions, red bell pepper and water chestnuts, all served over crispy rice noodles and ready to scoop into large iceberg lettuce leaves. Have your napkin ready for this one, but the mess is definitely worth it.
The Karashi octopus is a cold salad made of raw octopus, diced avocado and julienned cucumber, tossed in a spicy vinegar sauce with roe scattered across the top. The crisp, cool vegetables and seafood intertwined with the tangy, spicy sauce is a delightful combination and a unique dish.
Sushi entrees are a mix of different pieces, and include soup and salad. You can order chef’s choice, or mix and match on your own by ordering maki (traditional rolls), nigiri (seafood laid over rice), sashimi (just seafood), or a little of everything. There are an almost overwhelming number of choices.
I tried the volcano roll — spicy yellowtail, cucumber and avocado, topped with a spicy mayo. While the rolls themselves had a great, fresh flavor, there was a curious mound of crispy panko in the center of the plate that I believe was meant to look like lava spilling out of the rolls — a quirky twist that I could have done without, because the panko was pretty tasteless and dry.
I’ve always been a fan of the spider roll, and Fuji’s did not disappoint. Lettuce, cucumber and a drizzle of spicy mayo over the top are good elements, but the real excitement comes with the crunchy fried softshell crab.
My favorite was the rainbow roll. The base is a California roll (avocado, cucumber and crab), which is then wrapped with slices of tuna, salmon, red snapper and white tuna, along with more avocado. This was a palate-pleaser. While a roll with five kinds of seafood may sound too complex, the fresh flavors all came through.
The bento box also makes for a nice meal, especially at lunch. Choose a meat (chicken, beef, salmon or shrimp), which can be prepared either teriyaki or tempura style. It comes alongside fried rice, a California roll and soup or salad. I’d go with the onion soup, a delicious broth that’s not too heavy — though it seems as marginally Japanese as the salad, a mix of iceberg lettuce, croutons and a Thousand Island-esque dressing.
Fuji is the kind of place where it’s not just about the food, but the experience as a whole. Birthdays here are raucous, as the serving staff serenade birthday guests with “Happy Birthday” in Japanese and English, accompanied by bongo drums and a tambourine. Even if it’s someone you don’t know, you’ll feel like singing right along and wishing them well. And while the whole menu at Fuji offers a wealth of delicious options, the hibachi experience, and the sense of community that accompanies it (you may end up sharing a table with complete strangers), makes this a special place for going out. More than just eating rolls, it’s an event.
Fuji Sushi & Hibachi
1610 Deming Way, Middleton, 608-827-8898, fujimiddleton.com
11 am-2:30 pm and 4:30-9:30 pm Mon.-Thurs., 11 am-10 pm Fri.-Sat., and 11 am-9 pm Sun., $3-$41