Japan- Fujiya 1935- ✪✪✪

A vaguely Spanish-inspired restaurant in Osaka, Tetsuya Fujiwara's restaurant is outstanding for its interior decor and the creativity of its dishes.

Tetsuya Fujiwara comes from a long line of high-end chefs (he's fourth-generation, actually) and was classically trained in French cuisine and pastry in Japan. He got a stage at a Spanish restaurant called L'Esguard, which is run by a chef who is a neurosurgeon by day, chef by night. No, really

 Fujiya 1935 Main Entrance

Fujiya 1935 Main Entrance

OSAKA, JAPAN

SERVICE: 6.0/10

FOOD: 8.5/10

PRICE PAID: $138 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)

VALUE/MONEY: 8.0/10

FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10

  Fujiya Waiting Room

Fujiya Waiting Room

Fujiya 1935's strong suit, almost certainly, is their interior decor. With a very refined, high-end hotel lobby look- blond, multi-hued wood sanded down to the smoothness of plastic, tiny understated candles, dramatic lighting- you get the feeling that the food might be an afterthought. An enormous log hulks in the corner for no apparent reason. 

This restaurant could belong equally in Osaka, Tokyo, Singapore, San Francisco, London... I'll leave it to you whether that's a good thing or not, but I was impressed. 

  Place Setting

Place Setting

  Serving Plate

Serving Plate

Some of the softest, most relaxing wood surfaces, easiest-to-hold cups, and beautifully measured space I've ever encountered- seriously high marks.

  First Bites: "Air-Bubble Bread," 9/10

First Bites: "Air-Bubble Bread," 9/10

 Inside the Air Bubble

Inside the Air Bubble

First out, an impressively-presented dish of black soybean bread served inside a hot stone, with cream cheese to the side. The bread is light and airy (it was baked in a manner than encourages the formation of air bubbles, we are told), which juxtaposes well against the heavy cream cheese. Four sweet black bean "seeds" are at the "root" of the bread, which is an interesting message. 9/10.

  Course 1: Yellowtail + Turnip, 8/10

Course 1: Yellowtail + Turnip, 8/10

Check out the mother-of-pearl dish this next course was served upon- a gorgeous way to emphasize the somewhat muted colors of the kan-buri fish (yellowtail), traditional Kyoto vegetables, and turnip. There's also a base of sea salt, in case the just-from-the-ocean idea wasn't hitting you yet. 

The fish is soft and supple; warm mashed potato flavors are hearty and delicious. The turnip has the crunchy texture of an apple but almost no flavor. Interesting. 8/10.

  Course 2: Fugu Roe + Burdock + Black Truffle, 9/10

Course 2: Fugu Roe + Burdock + Black Truffle, 9/10

Another clever dish- fugu roe with black truffle. Amazingly crunchy, and the truffle flavors really stand out. 9/10.

  Rosemary Bread: 8/10

Rosemary Bread: 8/10

  Butter + Lard: 8/10

Butter + Lard: 8/10

Beautiful spherical loaves of rosemary bread with a side box-full of butter and lard. Yes, lard; white with shaved green onions, and the texture of Crisco- it's way over-the-top decadent and delicious on the super-hot bread. Rosemary flavors punch through nicely. The sesame cream with soy milk (on the right) is delicious. I would describe this setup as delicious but just a goddam touch on the rich side. 8/10.

  Course 3: Sea Urchin + Squid Ink Sauce + Linguine, 8/10

Course 3: Sea Urchin + Squid Ink Sauce + Linguine, 8/10

Linguine with Uni (Sea Urchin), squid ink sauce, and salted egg. The uni itself almost tastes like rich egg yolk, and the squid ink turns the pasta black as the dish is consumed, which is a super cool effect. 8/10.

  Course 4: Spanish Pork + Asian Broccoli, 8/10

Course 4: Spanish Pork + Asian Broccoli, 8/10

A server gingerly adds sauce a spoonful at a time (check out the video) to this main dish of pork from Basque country with Asian broccoli and leek sauce from Kyoto. Hearty, big, extremely satisfying. Had to cut off excessive pork fat though. 8/10.

  Course 5: Lily Root Ice Cream + Apple, 8/10

Course 5: Lily Root Ice Cream + Apple, 8/10

The first dessert- a somewhat crumpled-looking baked apple, lily roots, pine nuts, and gelato. A mixture of soft, crunchy, and creamy textures that really helps bring together the apple flavors- like a deconstructed apple pie. 8/10.

  Course 6: Espresso, 8/10

Course 6: Espresso, 8/10

The espresso is rich and delicious, but nothing terribly different from, say, a really good Peet's Coffee product. 8/10.

  Course 7: Snowman Dessert, 10/10

Course 7: Snowman Dessert, 10/10

 Tokushima, Japan

Tokushima, Japan

All I can say about this last dessert is that it automatically gets 10 points for creativity, almost regardless of how it tastes. A panorama of a snowbank with an actual snowman is made of strawberries from Tokushima, Japan, an area known for producing amazingly fresh fruit. There was a huge amount of meringue and even more sugar; I can safely say that this dish brought joy. 10/10.