It's a busy Saturday night, and by the time we're leaving around 8.30pm, at which time we're off to see some bands, the tables are all about to turn over at Izakaya Fujiyama. Since we've arrived, rockabilly has pumping around us, and sitting at the bar I feel like I'm watching a Japanese cowboy, with the scarf adorned chef adeptly cutting sashimi in front of us. To our right the hot kitchen has all burners and the grill blasting, and the restaurant is full. I say restaurant, because unlike a traditional izakaya, the people are here to eat, mostly. We're two, but there are a couple of larger groups gathered around the longer tables. And with their food, some choose beer, others choose wine, few elect to drink sake, more's the pity.
Still, the food is izakaya snack style and size, starting with lightly salted edamame. My companion has arrived before me and has just started sipping a beer, but I have to wait until he's nearly finished before my beverage is ordered, with the food. Although Izakaya Fujiyama serves up the little pieces that are traditional, we order a feast, which is enough to really give the menu a workout, and also fill us up for dinner.
The first of our food is slow to come too, but it's worth the wait. The food is nice. When I was in primary school I was taught not to use that word - nice - that it didn't say all that much, that it's non-descript, but here I reckon it's appropriate. The food is nice, not extraordinary, not great, but certainly nice enough. Once the food starts its castanet clicking stream is flows smoothly. Most plates are good. Some morsels are excellent.
The girl mixing the tempura batter, and frying our prawns (one each - ordered by the piece) has a touch that results in an airy bubbly batter that pops, with the prawns still succulent and soft inside. They were a winner. A side of pickled cucumber is wonderful and refreshing, and smacks of crunch and sesame. Our earlier kingfish (raw with ginger and shallots) didn't quite ping, although it was fresh enough. Our sushi arrives delightful with warm seasoned rice and cold fish cut to order. Again we've ordered by the piece. The wasabi dob sits on top of one, and under the flesh of the other, uncoloured pickled ginger mounded at the end of the share plate. Near the end of the meal the gloriously fatty wagyu from the grill was tasty.
The snickers dessert is the signature we were told. Any take on a candy bar needs to be more than gimmicky, and it's not. Again the dish is nice. The pina colada ice cream is a better match for our plum wine but doesn't resonate any higher. Always trust your instincts; I'm feeling I should have stuck to my first choice, vanilla bean ice cream with toffee and Japanese vinegar.
When it started out Izakaya Fujiyama opened to great reviews. It's still certainly worth checking in for a snack. But with so many newer Japanese places in the area from snazzy Tokyo Bird to the quirky Kagura, Izakaya Fujiyama might have to crank it back up a small notch.