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Sushi steal 

Mt. Fuji does sushi and other Japanese fare at a bargain.

THE BENTO BOX: A guaranteed cure for hunger.
  • THE BENTO BOX: A guaranteed cure for hunger.

"Cheap" is usually not a description we think of when it comes to good Japanese food, but Mt. Fuji, located just east of the intersection of Rodney Parham and I-430, delivers both — authentic and scrumptious Japanese fare at incredibly reasonable prices. Lunch specials start around $8, and if you hit the restaurant during happy hour (5 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday) or on Monday for $1 sushi night, you can eat mass quantities of sushi for small cash.

For lunch, bento boxes ($10) are the way to go. They come with four big pieces of nigiri sushi — ours came with tuna, white tuna, red snapper and salmon — one special roll of the day, one roll of our choosing, seaweed salad, baked mussels, soup and salad. The ginger dressing on our simple green salad was spicy and sweet and summoned many "mmms" for the table; not bad for the first thing you put in your mouth. Equally good, the miso soup is soothing with a perfect balance of miso taste and saltiness. There's nothing more disappointing to begin a Japanese meal with a bad bowl of miso — in our experience, Mt. Fuji has never committed that offense.

Then the bento boxes arrived, like our own personal little feasts. The seaweed salad is small but is still a better deal than the $5 appetizer portion. The baked mussels turned out to be a table favorite. Baked in a mayonnaise-based sauce, they had a great balance of oil and spice. But the fish is, of course, the real winner here. Especially the white tuna sushi; it was buttery yet firm, absolutely the table favorite. The spicy tuna roll packed a punch — definitely not for the timid roll eater. The California roll and crunchy crab roll were as reliably good as Mt. Fuji is known to be. But, the kicker here is the amount of food for the money. We had to slow down three-quarters of the way through, but gathered the strength to power through and finish. How often does that happen with a sushi lunch?

For dinner, Mt. Fuji offers an extensive menu of more traditional Japanese dishes like udon, soba and ramen noodle dishes from $8 to $13; yosenabe (a steaming pot filled with broth, meat, tofu and vegetables) for $13; teriyakis served with soup, salad and rice from $14 to $26; and an assortment of grilled meats called yakiniku also for $13. All and all really good deals for the amount of food you get with each meal.

Similarly, the appetizers offered are reasonable and delicious. And the time to be adventurous. Instead of the regular edamame appetizer (steamed and salted soybeans), try the agedofu ($5), fried tofu served in a savory mirin sauce and sprinkled with dried fish flakes. It's a shining example of why the Japanese are culinary geniuses: the combination of the crunchy and creamy texture of the tofu soaking up the salty sauce and dancing fish flakes, which sway at the slightest movement, is perfection.

And instead of ramen noodles — which are very, very good — try the soba noodles ($13). Chewy buckwheat noodles served cold and with a soy dipping sauce, they're flavorful and filling; tempura shrimp, particularly, plays off the cold noodles nicely. There are other adventurous options like squid teriyaki ($7), salmon skin salad ($7), even fresh oysters on the half shell (market price, seasonal).

Mt. Fuji

10301 North Rodney Parham Road

501-227-6498

Quick Bite

Don't forget to visit the food and gift shop, located under the dining room, where you'll find frozen and fresh fish (a sign touts that they will cut whatever you please from the sushi bar upstairs), noodles and noodle packets, sweets, sauces, teas, kitchen tools and utensils, sushi set-ups and more.

Hours

11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 12 p.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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