Fushin fare rare delight as sushi spreads to the suburbs

THE streets of Sunridge Park in Port Elizabeth are scarcely the sort of place you’d expect to encounter exotic ingredients like Peruvian scallops, Australian eel or Chesapeake Bay soft-shell crab. Here some might even consider them creepy-crawlies, but thanks to sushi fundi Mark Oosthuizen (known to many as Mark Sushi), the uniquely Japanese way of eating is now accessible to everyone in the ‘hood.

It may not be quite as trendy a setting as the flagship Fushin in Stanley Street, but the new Tokyo-style “street bar” at the Sunridge Village Shopping Centre has been attracting both curiosity and support.

Some may have raised eyebrows at first but there have been converts, with takeaways popular given the alternative of facing the parking lot all night.

A menu as extensive as Mark’s can be intimidating (my husband and dining partner, Salvelio, found it so), but Mark is finding ways to make it a little friendlier. He has introduced a simplified “combo” menu that should offer a gentler introduction into the wonderful world of sushi, sashimi and other Asian delights (there are also Chinese and Thai options on offer, such as a dimsum selection and Thai green curry).

We wound up at the outlet quite out of desperation, as it was a Monday night and many restaurants were closed. The ones that weren’t either had no tables available, had already been reviewed or else looked like you might risk a serving of salmonella. So off we schlepped, halfway across town, but at the end of it were thoroughly pleased to have done so.

Our waitress, Natasha, was spot-on in her recommendations, as the quality of all our orders would prove. First up, complimentary bowls of savoury miso soup with slivers of seaweed, tofu squares and crunchy spring onion that prepped our palates for what lay ahead. We shared the Tokyo Street Bar platter (R80) which comprised four pieces of maki mono (sushi with the nori or seaweed on the outside), four pieces of California roll with prawn and avo centre and two salmon roses topped with caviar. This was followed by Peking duck pancakes (R75) made up of sheer rounds we could stack with shredded duck and delicate strips of cucumber and spring onion. We also shared a dim-sum and tempura “combo” (R50). The dim-sum’s slightly smokey pork filling was lovely but the doughy exterior on the sweet side for me, while the elegantly elongated tempura prawns were beautiful to look at and excellently deep-fried so not a hint of oil remained on their spiky cornflour jackets. We could’ve called it a night at this point but couldn’t resist the spicy baked scallops (R44 for four, in the shell). We’d never had scallops flash-grilled this way (usually it’s just a quick pan-fry for us). They were just-just cooked, as they should be, and we were surprised the delicate flesh went so well with the fiery Tabasco and Japanese mayo sauce. The evening dished up another chance to experience something new. Enter the Sunset Philly, a dessert not on the Sunridge menu but which they offered to make when we expressed reservations about the halva ice cream (having just dined on Asia’s finest we didn’t fancy a sudden departure to the Middle East). The dessert was pricey at R60 but ample for two. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but we were blown away by the innovation of what looked like a normal California roll but was stuffed with camembert, fig and avo, then quickly deep-fried to give the rice a delicious nuttiness.

But the big surprise of the night was the bill. Far from the whopper we expected, it was R353 excluding tip and including two Tiger lagers – quite a bit less than you’d pay for a standard three courses in many a restaurant.

Fushin Sunridge Village is on (041) 811-7874.

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