Delicious Japanese Food in Barrio Chino

Today is Saturday. Today I woke up and seriously craved tamales. Specifically spicy Mexican pork tamales. About 9am, I said to my wife “I really want some tamales for breakfast”.

She replied “Oh yeah, that sounds AAAAmazing! Let’s have a tamale day!”. We thought we had everything we needed except the pork, but we couldn’t find the corn husks in our food storage. We know we have at least a couple dozen somewhere, but after an hour of searching, we couldn’t find them. So we decided to take a trip to Barrio Chino (Chinatown) and left the house around 10:30AM.

It might sound strange to go to Chinatown to find Mexican ingredients, but generally, if you can’t find it anywhere else, go to Chinatown. Spices, hot peppers, hot sauces, etc., you can find it in Chinatown. So, today we took a trip to Barrio Chino to buy some hard to find spices we’ve had a hard time finding, and some imported condiments. The main goal (for me) was to find some corn leaves so I could make tamales today.

TLDR… Never found the corn leaves but had some amazing Japanese food, and picked up a bunch of spices and imported goods.

We always try to go to Barrio Chino pretty early in the day, especially on weekends, because I don’t much like crowds, and Barrio Chino gets packed weekend afternoons. Anyway, we were finished shopping around 12:30PM (except I never found the stupid dried corn leaves, which was the whole reason we went), couldn’t go home and make tamales, so we were looking for somewhere to eat. China Rose is a decent spot, but, today I wasn’t interested.

Often we get something from one of the corner stalls selling fried shit on a stick (dumplings, sausages, shrimp, etc). If we do that, it is because we spent too long shopping and all the restaurants are full, and we just don’t want to wait with the crowds milling around. At 12:30, the place was getting ready for peak crowds, so we did consider it. But, ughh, I was really disappointed I wasn’t going to have a Tamal, so at least we could eat decent, right?!

I have been craving some good Japanese food for weeks, and our favorite San Telmo joint was too far out of the way because it’s been cold and we have been lazy.

In Barrio Chino, there is a little cluster of Japanese restaurants and today we decided to try Fujisan. We almost didn’t because it was a beautiful day and we wanted to sit outside and enjoy the weather, but Fujisan doesn’t have outdoor seating. We checked out the place across the street that did have outdoor seating, but they were full, so we went back to Fujisan.

I have to say, I am glad we did. It was excellent. After being seated they brought us a quick amouse bouche for lack of a better word(s). A little sample of minced salmon mixed with…? I really couldn’t tell. Whatever it was, it was good!

The starter was six large fried shrimp with what they called tartar sauce. I don’t really like tartar sauce, and this didn’t taste much like what I think of when I think of tartar sauce, but this one was great, and I had some with every bite of the perfectly cooked fried shrimp. Even my wife was surprised I ate it because seriously, I never eat tartar sauce. The plate was served with a little salad that I assume most think is garnish, but it was actually really good too. It had cabbage, several types of sprouts, and other stuff with some pickled carrot that was REALLY good. I mean really good. Hard to pick up minced pickled carrot with chopsticks, but man, that carrot was good! See, if I said it that many times…

Note to self: figure out how they do that pickled carrot because it is awesome.

My wife ended up mixing the “tartar sauce” with the “garnish” for an impromptu coleslaw. Nice! It was actually the most expensive thing we ordered (I think), but well worth it.

Next up was Miso soup, and a “salad” of rice noodles and pickled veggies. Subtlety sweet and sour, and surprisingly good. The miso itself was the only thing in the whole meal I didn’t love. it wasn’t bad at all, but it could have been better.

The Harumaki (think egg rolls as a comparison) came with a sweetish dipping sauce that I am guessing was made with tamarind but not too sure because the flavor was muted, but still really good. No flavor overwhelmed. I don’t think the Harumaki by themselves could be qualified as really good because they didn’t have much filling so the dough overwhelmed the flavor of the filling, but with the sauce… yeah… I liked that. Well balanced.

The sushi was well prepared and very fresh. Even my wife loved it, and she is definitely not a sushi fan!

Last but not least, the teriyaki chicken served with fragrant rice. Normally, I wouldn’t even bother to write about teriyaki chicken and rice, but this was worth it. Rice perfect, chicken perfectly cooked and tender, vegetables crisp but cooked perfect, service perfect.

Not a thing we ate was mediocre except the miso soup (and maybe the harumaki without the sauce). It was all good. And the total price was just over 20 dollars with all the food, 4 sodas and a beer.

Just go!

As we were walking back to take the subway home, my wife asked if it was really that good or if we were just really hungry? I don’t know, but next time I go, I will make sure I am hungry because I want some more.