North Brooklyn has become synonymous with a certain type of restaurant: venues with unassuming frontage, pared back interiors, single-sheet menus of small plates and cocktails served in jam jars. Fushimi (475 Driggs Ave) is different, and it has always made me curious. I walk past it most days on my way to and from the L and often try to catch a glimpse of what lies beyond the bead-curtained windows and silver-mirrored entrance.
However, the intriguing world of Fushimi was recently revealed when they invited Greenpointers over for dinner.
First off, I’m happy to report that the interior does not disappoint. It’s like walking on to the set of a James Bond movie: a dimly lit bar area pumping dance music has long beaded cylinders hanging from the ceiling, tall tables for two and a glitzy bar filled with illuminated pebbles.
The main dining area is huge, with seductive padded booths along one side of the space, individual tables along the other, and a private dining room at the far end. The ceiling is strung with huge metallic silver balls creating a slightly space-age quality.
We settle into a plush booth at the back from where we are able to fully absorb the space. Our charming host, Rick, tells us that the Williamsburg venue is his favorite of the three Fushimis. The first was opened 10 years ago on Staten Island by Daniel and Ben Chen. A Bay Ridge restaurant followed, and the Williamsburg restaurant came along in 2012.
The menu is described as fusing ‘traditional Japanese food with inventive French inspired nouvelle cuisine’ and, while sushi is a house speciality, our host insists that Chef Ko wants us to try something more substantial.
Here’s what we have:
A Spicy Lobster Salad with crab, avocado, chili and crushed peanuts is light and fresh with presentation true to its nouvelle cuisine roots
A dish of seared Pepper Tuna Tataki, arranged like a flower, comes with neat cubes of ponzu gelle, carrot and fennel shavings.
Salmon with Truffle Mash, roasted Brussels sprouts, shrimp parcels, and green cauliflower florets is old-school but inviting.
A Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb is cooked medium rare and accompanied with marinated vegetables, green beans and crispy mashed potato.
To drink we sample fruity house cocktails (a Strawberry Sake Mojito and a Pomegranate Martini) and move onto a small pretty bottle of Mio sparkling sake which is fragrant, light and apparently a rather popular choice with with the ladies!
I should take a moment to mention that, as part of the blingy decor, the restaurant has the most dramatic bathroom entrance you ever saw: a long silver tunnel lined with green lights reminiscent of a vortex to a parallel universe. It is, I am told, a very popular spot for selfies.
Dining at Fushimi is a far cry from the world of salvaged wood interiors and locally sourced kale lattes that has recently come to be associated with typical Brooklyn dining, but in many ways this is refreshing. It’s said that a change can be as good as a holiday and, for the right occasion, Fushimi could be just what you’re after!