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Dining out: Mt. Fuji Japanese Cuisine

Published: Friday, May 7 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

SANDY — For a while, I couldn't decide if my glow of good feelings about Mt. Fuji Japanese Cuisine was simply the "first date night in months" effect, in which anything short of gnarly convenience-store hot dogs would have seemed like delicious food served in a fabulous setting.

But I'm pretty sure, after mulling it over for a while, that it really was that good. From a restaurant graveyard, the owners of Mt. Fuji have created a welcoming space that brims with excellent service and solid Japanese food, some of it not often seen elsewhere.

My husband knows my love of Japanese food and shares it at least to an extent. That extent includes (but is not limited to) udon, katsu, teriyaki and gyoza, but under no circumstances anything that includes raw fish, cooked fish or seaweed.

To me, that cuts out a lot of the possibilities, but I must admit he found lots to enjoy at Mt. Fuji, starting with the aforementioned gyoza. Mt. Fuji serves the fried kind, rather than steamed. Steamed are probably my favorite, but these certainly were delicious, strongly flavored with savory fillings a bit more loose than others I've had.

For dinner, he had (don't be shocked, now) the chicken teriyaki. This dish shone thanks mostly to its exemplary teriyaki sauce, which was medium-thick and less sweet than a lot of teriyaki you find at Japanese restaurants. The lean, juicy chicken was cut into small pieces and served with creamy-textured sticky rice and fragrant, scallion-studded miso soup that satisfied despite having less tofu than I'm used to.

My meal was radically different, starting with the sashimi combination of two pieces of tuna, two of salmon and three of white fish, with the usual garnishes of daikon, pickled ginger and wasabi. Everything was good, from the buttery intensity of the salmon to the snap of the tuna and, my favorite, the mellow, oceany freshness of the white fish.

For dinner, I had a couple of items, starting with the off-menu "sexy girl roll," one of the tastiest I've ever enjoyed. It started with a core of crispy, sweet tempura shrimp paired with a little jalapeño, surrounded by nori and rice with mango wrapped around the outside and what looked like tobiko, flying fish eggs, on top. This roll is a wonderful balance of flavors, with every ingredient present but not overwhelming. I just loved it.

I also had a big bowl of Japanese-style ramen, the familiar curly noodles served with thin-sliced pork, egg and veggies. It was hot, savory, varied and delicious.

For dessert, my husband enjoyed chocolate ice cream with a crispy, deep-fried shell topped with chocolate sauce and almonds; while I reveled in a fabulous scoop of barely sweet green tea ice cream paired with loose, silky green-tea créme brulee.

Appetizers $3.95-$8.20, entrées and specials $6.95-$17.95, noodles and bowls $6.75-$14.75, bentos $10.75-$12.95, sushi and sashimi entrées $10-$19.95, a la carte $3.25-$6.10, sushi standard rolls $3.50-$6.25, special rolls $5.25-$17.45, desserts $1.75-$5.45.

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News.

e-mail: skratz@desnews.com

Mt. Fuji Japanese Cuisine

Rating: ★★★

Where: 8650 S. 1300 East, Sandy

Hours: Monday, 5-9:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Saturday, noon-2:30 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m.; closed Sunday

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 801-432-8962

Web: www.mtfujislc.com

Wheelchair access: Easy

Also: Lunch specials available daily; karaoke weekly; catering available; live music on Fridays