By SUSAN ERICSON
Our hearts skipped a beat five years ago when Trader Joe’s announced it would open a store in what was then called the Treasure Island Mall in Shrewsbury: we thought we’d never again see the inviting teak interior of Fuji.
This was before the Greater Red Bank Green caught up to the public appetite for sushi and became fairly saturated with Japanese, Asian and fusion-style restaurants. Fuji was one one of the few, and among the better. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s simply bumped the restaurant out of its spot in the Route 35 shopping center – and into one with a lighter, more organic decor. And the restaurant is as busy as ever, owner Jenny Chen-Ng tells PieHole.
With errands to run, Pie Hole realized that a takeout lunch was the best option, and indecisive about what to order, a bento box seemed the consummate answer.
Unfamiliar with a bento box? It’s a more refined and somewhat elegant approach to brown-bagging in Japan. Traditionally a laquerware box divided into multiple sections to accommodate different parts of an entire meal, it contains one or more proteins, such as fish or chicken, plus rice, pickled vegetables and fruit, often artfully arranged. Newer, decorative plastic versions of the bento box can now be found universally.
Fuji’s lunch special bento box consists of a choice of sushi roll from the maki category, an appetizer, and shrimp, salmon, steak or chicken teriyaki. It also comes with miso soup and a typical iceberg lettuce salad with carrot ginger dressing.
We opted for the shrimp tempura appetizer, a tuna avocado sushi roll and the chicken teriyaki, and the bento box was filled to the brim. In transit, the teriyaki sauce sloshed into the wasabi and ginger compartment. Wet condiments aside, the sushi held up nicely and was tasty.
A container of soy sauce, not those annoying little hard-to-open packets, was included in the bag along with a container of tentsuyu, the traditional tempura dipping sauce. Two large shrimp, green beans and sweet potato coins filled up the appetizer portion of the box.
The entire lunch was a little too much to consume in one sitting, and we missed the customary rice and pickled vegetables. For a quick takeout meal, though, Fuji did a good job on the bento box, and at $13 for that much food, it was a reasonable deal too.
Fuji is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. It reopen for dinner at 4:30 p.m.