Atmosphere: Relaxed ambience; tasteful Japanese decor. Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Price range: Complete dinners $8 to $12.50. Reservations: Recommended. Credit cards: American Express, Mastercard, VISA. Special facilities: Booster seats but no highchairs available; inaccessible to handicapped; sushi bar.
If the thought of taking the children out to dinner makes you reach for the tranquilizers, consider the Fuji Restaurant. Just a few steps from hectic M Street in Georgetown exists an oasis of peace and quiet where the food is fine and the service so courteous that you are likely to forget how ruffled your nerves were when you came through the door.
Even frantic children are liable to succumb to the calm of this environment, for Fuji Restaurant is tranquiliy itself. Music floats in the background and waitresses pad quietly about in dark kimonos. Earth tones predominate and are complemented by the soft lighting and the rice-paper panels on the walls.
If your are not familiar with Japanese food, your waitress will patiently answer your questions. Japanese cuisine relies on exceptionally fresh vegetables and top quality fish and beef. Food is cooked quickly or not at all, as with sushi, a raw fish dish that is beautifully presented.
Essentially there are three ways to order from Fuji's menu: you can select your favorite sushi from the list; order a complete dinner, including soup, salad, rice, dessert and tea; or make up as much or as little of a dinner as you choose from the a la carte items and appetizers.
Because we wanted to sample everything, we went the expensive route and ordered complete dinners for the four of us. To lessen the bill, we might have ordered three dinners for four of us, as our waitress suggested, or ordered a dinner of soup ($1) and an appetizer-sized yakitori or tempura (each $3) for our younger daughter.
Unlike some Japanese restaurants, Fuji concentrates on food rather than theatrics. Cooking is not done at the table; dishes are brought to you already prepared. Our dinners began with miso, a light and flavorful soybean soup that was a sonderful beginning. Service was perfectly timed; our salads appeared next -- a combination of greens in a piquant sesame dressing that we found pleasantly different, but which had too much bite for the girls.
Our entrees proved feasts form the eye as well as the palate. Our 10-year-old ordered chicken teriyaki, $10, and it was a perfect choice: the chicken was boneless, served on a sizzling platter with vegetables and perfectly dressed with a teriyaki sauce that was not overly sweet. Our 14-year-old, the shrimp lover, shose shrimp and vegetable tempura, $10.50.
It arrived on a doily-lined wicker platter. Broccoli, carrots and other vegetables had been sliced to the precise length of the shrimp; each piece was covered with a delicate, lacy batter that was crunchy, light and greaseless.
But my husband' sushi, $10.50, was the real work of art. A selection of carefully sliced raw fish were arranged on small mounds of seasoned rice. Tuna, flounder, shrimp and yellowtail, with mounds of sea urchin and roe, were beautifully served on a polished, wood-grained slab and set off with one perfect green fan.
I ordered sukiyaki, $11.50. Beef, vegetables and wheat noodles simmered in a soy sauce-based broth were served in a small iron kettle. It was quite good, although I liked it least of the four dishes we shared.
Everything was accompanied by bowls of rice and a delicate Japanese green tea.
Finally, our waitress brought us compotes of vanilla ice cream topped with fresh chunks of cantaloupe, a perfect end to the meal. Our $56 tab was a bit more than we would usually expect to pay for a family dinner out, but it was an exceptionally relaxing dinner. And the girls got to keep their chopsticks.