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Eastern Exploration

With more than three decades of experience, Chef Nobu has created a cool and comfortable haven at Fuji Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar for enjoying some of the best in Japanese culture and cuisine.

Donna Leahey
Sarah Eliza Roberts
July 28, 2018

There are so many things to love about sushi. It’s healthy, it’s edible art, it combines flavors and colors and textures into adventuresome mouthfuls. It’s great for making a special occasion even more special, a quick, light lunch, or an evening sharing an experience with friends.

Fuji Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar is Tulsa’s oldest sushi bar. Masanobu Terauchi, known as Chef Nobu, opened Fuji in 1986 and still comes in every morning to make the sushi rice. With more than three decades of experience, Chef Nobu has created a cool and comfortable haven for enjoying some of the best in Japanese culture and cuisine.

Fuji is tucked away in a strip mall at the corner of 71st Street and Memorial Drive. A stroll across the green lawn gives you a chance to contemplate the Japanese characters on the tinted windows: Determined, Taste, Dream, Love, and Beauty. Inside, Fuji is a refreshing and cool oasis. The high ceilings give the interior a spacious feel, while the white, red, and black color scheme evokes the spirit of Japan. The air is rich with scents of garlic and ginger, soy sauce and more savory and tangy flavors.

Sushi Party Boat (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Sushi Party Boat (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

To your right is the bar, with a trio of TVs and booths. Ahead is the dining area and to your left is the sushi bar. If you’re there on your own or with a small party, consider sitting at the sushi bar. Watching the care that goes into the art of sushi makes you appreciate your meal even more. Fuji’s sushi chefs are artists, putting together food that’s not just delicious, but beautiful.

Sushi is so much more than just raw fish. Besides rolls, there’s nigiri, sashimi, hand-rolls, and more. “Nigiri is fish served on a ball of sushi rice and is usually served in pairs,” explains Matt Cooper, the general manager of Fuji. “Sashimi is fish on a bed of greens. And a hand roll is served cone-style and usually eaten in your hand. It’s like a sushi ice-cream cone.” While answering, Cooper expertly slices and rolls, adds a pinch of wasabi and a splash of pickled ginger before sending out a plate.

If you’re a sushi-lover in Green Country, there’s a very good chance you learned to enjoy it at Fuji, but sushi is not the only cuisine Fuji offers. “We’re really two restaurants in one,” says Cooper. “We’re a sushi bar, but we also have a full kitchen. It gives us the chance to offer more variety.”

Hot Molly Roll (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Hot Molly Roll (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

A recent addition to the Fuji menu is ramen. “Ramen is a popular Japanese dish. There are a lot of ramen houses there,” he says. “We wanted to round out the kitchen menu by adding it.” This is not that stuff you ate for cheap in college. Fuji’s ramen is not just delicious; it’s beautiful. Fuji makes it all from scratch, including their own chashu — a traditional Japanese marinated pork. “We marinate our own chashu and reduce it down ourselves. It’s all very high quality.”

Fuji offers an extensive list of cold and hot appetizers. You can’t go wrong with something like their marinated seaweed salad or some steamed edamame. But Fuji has some specialties you definitely want to try. The hot crab and cheese dip is a savory and creamy blend of crab with four cheeses. Or pamper yourself with some lobster wontons — lobster, spinach, mozzarella, and Parmesan in a crispy wonton shell. Cooper is a fan of the tempura appetizers. “We have the best tempura,” he says. It is amazingly light and crispy, with the tempura coating enhancing rather than covering up the flavors of the vegetable or protein.

Some of the tempura options include calamari, soft shell crab, vegetable, or shrimp. The vegetable and shrimp combo is a sure bet, with veggies ranging from broccoli to butternut squash served with generous-sized shrimp and a mild dipping sauce to set it all off.

The kitchen entrees come with a soup and salad, and in an array of choices to suit any appetite. There’s a 12-ounce New York Strip; it’s 100 percent certified Angus beef and can be prepared either teriyaki or shioyaki style. There’s a choice of rice bowls, a traditional Japanese dish with vegetables in a sweet sauce, baked with an egg and served over rice with your choice of fried chicken, sautéed chicken, katsu-fried pork, or steak. Cooper’s favorite is the Japanese curry — a flavorful vegetable curry with your choice of protein. If you want a little bit of everything, try a Bento Box — a special combination of edamame, fruit, and your choice of rolls, sushi, and entrees all served in a unique Japanese box.

If you’re in the mood for sushi, you’re in the right place. Fuji’s fish comes from multiple distributors and is delivered several times a week, to make sure your fish is as fresh as possible. The key is experience in handling the fish, and Fuji has plenty of experience. If you’re new to sushi, take a look at the Geisha Meal or the Warrior Meal, a selection of rolls at a special price that make it easy to ease your way into sushi. For the sushi pros, there are pages of choices of rolls, nigiri, sashimi, hand rolls, and more. Here’s a menu pro tip: many of the ingredients for the rolls are listed by their Japanese name — kan instead of snow crab, for instance. If you look at the nigiri and sashimi a la carte menu, it’s like your sushi menu Rosetta stone, helping you translate toro to fatty tuna and ika to squid.

Be sure to check out the monthly specials for a beautiful sushi boat, roll, or entree at a special price.

If you’d like to learn to make your own sushi, check Fuji’s website for Chef Nobu’s sushi making class or call Fuji to learn when the next class will be held.   

Fuji Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar
8226 E. 71st St. | Tulsa
Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.