Open Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m. Ae, V. Reservations. Prices: Full five-course dinners $10 to $12.50; a la carte main courses $4 to $9. Three-course lunches $4.50 to $5; a la carte main courses $3 to $6.50.
It was Georgetown. It was crowded and noisy. I couldn't face another quiche. Or hamburger. Fuji was quiet. No disco music. No buzzing neon. Inside the glass door a sushi bar looked ready to be born. It was Japanese. Very. A smiling -- yes, smiling, even in Georgetown -- man checked upstairs and found us a table. A quiet table, but then all of them were.
Fuji used to be Trudie's before it was Hunam. And so the chairs are still jade green. The small room still curves into an egg of a dining area. The ceiling is still dark, close wooden slats interrupted for a skylight. But now the smoked mirrors along two walls reflect silvery flowered wallpaper and sedate ricepaper-covered windows instead of portholes. A plant, maybe two, are in the aisles. A stone temple icon is on the landing. Tehre are white tablecloths, even at lunch. And chopsticks are the utensils offered. Waitresses in kimonos pad up to your table to ask if everything is fine.
They pour your wine -- an $8 vouvray that is cheaper than you can get it in France these days -- and wish you to enjoy your drink. They bring you a small bowl landscaped with halved shrimp, sliced cucumbers and seaweed moist with a rainfall of sweetened vinegar, and they wish you to enjoy your dinner.
You drink -- not spoon -- a warm salty bean broth with crunches of scallion.
You peel slices of raw fish and octopus from a tiny multihued still life of sashimi on an earthenware slab and dip them into soy sauce and green horseradish. They are very fresh, those precision-cut fish slices, though obviously not as fresh as a Toyko restaurant would find acceptable. And you promise yourself to try them next time set onto ovals of rice as sushi, the special sushi with a dozen varieties including salmon roe and sue urchin and oily, meaty tuna.
You pry slices of broiled steak from a sizzling metal platter, the steak permeated with thick, sweet soy glaze. And you wish it were cooked more rare but enthusiastically finish the slices and your bowl of fat, sticky grains of rice which you season with the meat's glaze. Perhaps you break off bits of salt-broiled salmon, firm and pink and crisp along the edges, wishing it, too, had been broiled several minutes less, even wishing you had ordered the teriyaki or sukiyaki or yosenabe that would be moister and more highly seasoned. At least with the teriyaki you get a lettuce salad drenched in a teasingly tart sesame dressing. You are most pleased, though, if you have ordered tempura so you can spear crisp green beans or wafers of sweet potato or supple shrimp in a haze of batter crunch and dip tem into broth with soy sauce. sYou couldn't ask for this tempura to be crunchier or lighter or less greasy. And since this is a Japanese restaurant, you don't expect the portion to be bigger. If you have ordered a full dinner -- shrimp salad, soup, sashimi or tempura or yakitori, main course and fruit, you know you have a fighting chance of being satiated for $10 or $12.
After several visits you know to concentrate on the yakitori, three small skewers of plump, juicy chicken with onion and green pepper in thick, sweet soy; or on the tempura, consistently excellent. You will have made your way through the appetizers easily, for there are only a few, the other ones being cold or hot bean curd. And you may have tried all the standard main dishes -- tempura, teriyaki of meat or fish, broiled fish, sukiyaki, deep fried port cutlets and sushi or sashimi -- and be ready to tackle the donburi (rice bowls) or noodle dishes, topped with those same meats or fish. On cold days you will order comforting bowls of fat noodles in soup; on warmer days or less hungry ones, you will make a habit of sushi or tempura. By now -- or long before -- the waitress will remember you. You will have switched from vouvray to sake. And you will worry what will happen to the service when the room is crowded.
You finish your meal with a wedge of melon sliced into chopstick-size cubes.
You feel neither stuffed nor hungry. And definitely serene. You pay $10 or $15 or $20 galdly, and descend the stairway, sprinkling goodbyes to the smiling attendants.
Outside it's still Georgetown. It's still noisy.