After spending the last few months in Italy, achieving satisfaction at most American restaurants has become more of a challenge than ever before. I decided instead that my first restaurant review upon returning to Appleton should revolve around the experience of the restaurant, rather than the quality.This experience surfaced in the form of Fuji Sushi, the only all-you-can-eat sushi buffet in Appleton — possibly in all of Wisconsin.
Located at 1003 W. Northland Ave., Fuji Sushi is yet another one of Appleton’s well-kept secrets, not unlike the giant tether ball near the Fox River and the premier dog bakery, Two Paws Up.
I knew that my view of the restaurant would be jaded, if only by my pure enthusiasm that such a thing exists in Appleton. However, it became significantly more skewed after trying to push my friend’s car out of the snowy East John Street parking lot for nearly an hour. Accompanied by a group of eight friends, I arrived at Fuji Sushi a mere 78 minutes later than intended, with numb limbs and fierce hunger.
We slammed the doors of the damned vehicle and trudged through the parking lot past the Pizza King, which shares a building with Fuji. Huddled inside the door, we didn’t have to look far to see the buffet line — it was presented front and center, before the dining room itself. The sight of the sushi buffet, which I could not fully comprehend until seeing it, was a justification of our labors; the bright, fluorescent light at the end of the tunnel.
In a daze, we were led to our table in the back of the restaurant, past the other diners, or shall I say, feasters. There was a middle-aged couple, a couple of fellow Lawrence students, and a family with three sushi-loving children.
We had a couple of minutes to take in Fuji’s strange ambience before being unleashed on the buffet. We noted the interesting framed puzzles adorning the tepid peach wall, depicting magical creatures, marine life, as well as Japan’s greatest landmark, the Eiffel Tower.
On the two TVs in the back corners of the dining room was a sort of Japanese music special. We were captivated by it for the entirety of our meal but were unable to draw any conclusions as to what exactly it was.
We ordered ice water and then headed up to the buffet. Like most buffet experiences, Fuji walks a thin line between repulsion and wonderment.
I have had the displeasure of experiencing a variety of buffet lines in my life, primarily at ill-fated family gatherings in rural Wisconsin. The Fuji experience rose above those — both because of its sheer novelty and the fairness of the pricing. At $10 per person, Fuji’s is definitely reasonable, especially considering how much you would normally pay for a filling meal of sushi.
There were about 15 different choices, such as the California roll, a few vegetarian options, and several kinds of seafood with cream cheese. The sushi, though not the best I’ve ever had, was good and — best of all — endless.
For those people who do not like sushi, there was General Tso’s chicken, fried rice, crab rangoon, and several mysterious deep-fried options.
The buffet line also offered miso soup, an extensive salad bar, fresh fruit, and several desserts, including ice cream. Most interesting of Fuji’s many buffet choices were gummy bears and gummy raspberries.
“I don’t know which was more distracting: the Asian woman in a yellow pantsuit on the television or the gummy bears in the salad bar,” said junior Jamie Gajewski, between awkward bites of gummy bears with chopsticks.
Unfortunately, unlike other Appleton sushi experiences I have had, the options, though plentiful, were not especially exciting. Still, for those who enjoy sushi, it is an excellent deal and probably the healthiest buffet in existence. For those in search of a new culinary experience, it is unlike anything else you will find in the area.