Cambridge: Fuji at Kendall

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman, photos by Dilusha De Tissera

still life with salad We're at Fuji in Kendall Square for Dilusha's birthday. If you want lunch, and we do, get yourself to the bar. Outside, see new buildings go up while you eat, the jackhammers are that busy. We, okay just me, remember Kendall Square when it was an oasis of lots with empty warehouses. We remember when you could park on the street, which is not all that long ago but then, there was no sushi or much of anything for that matter. In the end, we decide in favor of progress and that just being in Cambridge is making one of us feel smarter.

We get the last two seats. Fuji Kendall, like its sister Fuji 1546 in Quincy, is decor-savvy: here it's all blonde floors, très chic marble with black accents and lots of air conditioning for which we are grateful. Five sushi chefs are at work, four on fish and one dicing cucumber and avocado to fit your maki. No drinks just now, though there is a full bar, so when our server comes, Dilusha orders a bento. She's the crack photographer today and no one sets up a shoot quite the same and makes it look as good as it eats or better.

big bento Bento, depending on where you are, may deliver miso, rice, salad, fried gyoza or shumai, vegetables that go through tempura, maki and a main dish. This one has it all. I mean, really, all of it with chicken à la teriyaki. My point is, bento is not just bento, it's a box lunch (usually you can only get it for lunch) of bites the chef puts together with an eye to a midday yen for one of everything.

We roll to gyoza and shumai; what luck, both. Tempura vegetables, I see broccoli, are crisp. And the maki is California. I think about bento but in the end I go for a little of this and that without the box: sushi of tuna, melty salmon, shrimp and yellowtail, not the wine, drizzled with scallion and roe. I don't know how they cook shrimp but will they tell? Maki is spicy tuna which, if it were dinner, calls for beer. There's avocado roll, bright green, drool here. One chef patiently dices avocado into slices that match, one after another, removing pits without a bruise. Then he moves on to slivering cucumber into the tiniest of spears. You know the crunch. It's all in the knife.

cucumber man teriyaki This is how, if we could pick, we want all summer lunches to be: Jazz, fish and good company to make a day of um, skipping work. Yes, we are and no regrets. Lunch out, dinner out, we need more of them, off the block and in someone else's neighborhood. Birthdays or not, if you haven't been to Kendall Square in the last three months, go. The construction project developments are big.

sushi sushi

Are we done? No, dessert is here: ice cream that's been fried with a bowl of unsweetened chocolate. And bananas. Ice cream could be coconut, mango, green tea, or red bean but this is vanilla and there's whipped cream. Just like mother used to make. Will the Fuji guys tell the world how they fry the ice cream? I would love to know how they do it. Doesn't this remind you a little of a kind of a deconstructed healthy banana split without surreal cherries and anything blue?

banana splits There's one more stop-me-now dessert: tempura fried cheesecake. We didn't have it but still. Actually, it's not a secret how you keep cheesecake from falling apart in hot oil. I did some research, okay, and I know. Mostly, it's not a new thing. You do, however, have to move fast. Apparently, it's been around, fried ice cream, for a couple of hundred years. That's no surprise; There used to be time to dream up things to do to ice cream.

If you see Anthony, you'll know it's him, say hi. He's the manager and may be the one who springs a surprise or two. As for surprises, I read about a place in Manhattan, also with a Japanese menu, that serves pie to startled customers as they finish their sushi. And let me just say that if there's a bake-in to see which dessert people like more, we'll do those taste tests between say, peach pie and fried ice cream. The birthday girl says both. Let's make it go on forever. Cambridge sushi never had it so good.

Fuji at Kendall
300 Third St
Cambridge, MA 02142
617. 252.0088

© October 5, 2015 Photos by Dilusha De Tissera. Kitty Kaufman is a Boston writer. See more of their food adventures at Corporate Edge and Dilusha on Twitter and Kitty on Twitter
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