Sushi has really come of age in La Jolla. The Village alone has several thriving sushi restaurants, and now there's a new one on Pearl Street that should be making waves with fresh fish fans before long.
The name of the restaurant is Fugu's Sushi & Wok, and it takes pride in the fresh, quality sushi served on the premises. But Fugu's also offers diners other delicacies from the Pacific Rim. In fact, its new chef - fresh from China - has added a wonderful repertory of Chinese culinary classics to Fugu's large menu.
That's why you'll find Chinese dishes, such as Peking duck with pancakes ($21), Mongolian chicken ($8.95), spicy scallop and shrimp with black bean sauce ($10.95), mu shi pork ($8.95) and beef and broccoli with oyster sauce or plain ($8.95). Several different styles of Chinese cookery are among the offerings.
The quality is outstanding, as we noted when we tried the honey chicken breast ($8.95). This delicacy is made with pure honey, and you can really taste the difference. The chicken is cut into small slices and nicely coated before it's browned. Don't miss it if you like a little sweetness in your chicken.
Peking duck is available by the half ($12) or whole ($21). Since a whole duck can feed two or three people, this delicacy is a good choice for value-conscious diners.
Other Pacific Rim influences prevail at this modest little eatery as well. Korean barbecued beef is available for $8.95, Japanese-style teriyaki is offered with your choice of beef ($8.95) or chicken ($7.95), and several types of rice and noodle preparations are featured prominently on the menu.
Not surprisingly, the real focus of the huge menu is on sushi and sashimi.
The restaurant features an extensive menu of nigiri, sashimi, rolls, hand rolls, and other exotic treats. "Big Mike" Ferrer is the executive sushi chef, and his creations are spectacular. And by the way, if you want pure seafood rolls - without rice mixed into the roll - Fugu's has several "no rice" selections on the menu.
Among the most popular is the spicy tuna, mixed crab and cucumber wrapped in soy paper and topped off with fresh salmon and Ponzi sauce ($13.50). Another local favorite is the tuna, yellowtail, salmon, shrimp, mixed crab and avocado wrapped with nori and cucumber ($13.50). You really have to try these rolls.
The list of nigiri is impressive, and these offerings - two on a serving - are inexpensively priced. You can get tuna and maguro for $3.95, surf clam and hokkigai for $3.50, sweet shrimp and amaebi for $5.50 and smelt egg and masego for $3.95. The nigiri list alone features 23 items, most are under $4.
You'll love the assortment of rolls, which includes salmon skin roll ($6.95), special California roll ($7.95), soft shell crab roll ($11.95) and rainbow roll ($11.50).
You can also opt to "Do the Don," which means put your favorite topping on a bed of rice. The six selections in this group ( $7.95) include spicy tuna and avocado, spicy scallop and avocado, salmon skin and avocado, eel and avocado, and mixed crab and avocado.
Sushi is served all day long at the attractive sushi bar on one side of the restaurant, so don't wait until dinner to enjoy one of your favorites. Part of the fun, of course, is watching the sushi chef prepare one of these beauties.
Owner Gyung Lee presides over the management of this welcome newcomer to the village. He included domestic and Japanese beer on the beverage menu, along with hot or cold sake and wine by the glass or by the bottle.
There is nothing fussy about the interior. Stark white walls and ebony furnishings give Fugu's the clean lines of a traditional Japanese restaurant. Oversized paintings decorate the walls with subdued images of giant pansies.
Fugu's lunch specials served 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. are a terrific value. There are 15 selections on this special menu, all priced at $5.99. Look for specialties the likes of Kung Pao chicken or beef, one of the most popular dishes on the entire menu, veggie wok, crispy beef, lemon chicken, and mao gai pan among the choices.
Each lunch order comes with egg roll, steamed or fried rice and a can of soda or a cup of soup. They're served every day except Sunday, when Fugu's is closed.
Service is friendly and pleasant, and you'll have plenty of Asian offerings to choose from at this unpretentious restaurant.
Fugu's Sushi & Wok is at 915 Pearl St. For more information, call (858) 456-1414.