After a week of heavy German cuisine at every single meal, I was craving something different, something fresh, something non-German. I settled on Japanese. Because I was feeling lazy and unadventurous, I thought of Sushimoto, my go-to place for good Japanese in Frankfurt. My husband suggested we meet there for lunch, and I decided to check their website to make sure they were open. Unfortunately their website indicated that they closed between Christmas and New Year’s, like so many other restaurants this time of year. After checking a few other Japanese restaurants, whose websites showed that they also were taking a long vacation, I found a place in Sachsenhausen called Fujiwara. My husband called them and someone answered so he reserved us a table for noon, and we agreed to meet there.
I was the first to arrive in the small, intimate corner restaurant, just a few blocks away from Schweizer Strasse in Sachsenhausen. As soon as I entered, the sushi-chef and the two staff members greeted me warmly. I noticed that all the tables had reserved signs on them and was glad that we had also reserved. After I took off my coat and hung it up on the coat rack near the door, I took a seat at our table and waited for my husband. As I waited, a few more groups of diners arrived, all with reservations. After placing her order, one Japanese got up and returned to her table with a folded Japanese newspaper, which she grabbed from a display on the wall, that was hidden from my view. I assumed she was a regular.
Fujiwara has a two-page lunch menu including sashimi, sushi, yaki sakana (choice of salmon or mackerel), tempera and a few soba/udon dishes. The lunch menu comes with the usual Japanese rice, miso soup, and small salad. With prices between 10 Euros and 16 Euros, it’s a great value for lunch and comparable to Sushimoto’s lunch menu and prices.
My husband ordered the grilled mackerel and I ordered the sashimi. My sashimi included several luscious pieces of fresh salmon, tuna, red snapper, shrimp, octopus, and squid. My husband received two tender pieces of mackerel, comparable to the three small pieces usually served at Sushimoto. Both of us drank down our miso soup, which was flavorful and full of wakame. The pickles included cucumbers, purple pickles and carrots, and the salad dressing did not overpower the salad of mesclun greens and a few iceberg pieces. Everything was delicious and quickly disappeared from our plates.
After our meal, my husband and I agreed that we now prefer Fujiwara to Sushimoto. We have a new favorite Japanese restaurant in Frankfurt! Here are the reasons why:
1. Fujiwara is smaller, more intimate, and quieter than Sushimoto. Sushimoto has become more and more like a chain restaurant. As soon as you order, the waitress bring out large metal trays with the salads and miso soups arranged in rows, like you see in cafeterias or lunch halls. As she tosses the dishes in front of me, in a hurried and distracted manner, I am reminded of some flight attendants on U.S. air carriers who throw pretzels at their customers. This isn’t the type of quality service I expect at Japanese restaurants.
2. Fujiwara’s service is so much better than Sushimoto’s, which seems to lack attentive and trained staff. The last time we ate at Sushimoto, a couple weeks ago, our lunch was interrupted by the grill chef, who started yelling in Chinese across the restaurant to one of the Chinese waitresses. The outburst shocked us and we looked around to see what had happened. We saw nothing that would warrant such an outburst, especially from the staff in front of customers. Who does that? If he was upset about something she did, he should have taken her aside privately and spoken with her instead of reprimanding her in the middle of the restaurant. Based on his outrage and volume of voice, I could easily see him beating her or striking out at her if she had been standing right next to him. I have never witnessed such an outburst in a restaurant. Sushimoto needs to train their staff.
3. Fujiwara’s staff all speak Japanese. If I want to hear Chinese, I will go to a Chinese restaurant. When I go to a Japanese restaurant, I expect the staff to speak and understand Japanese. Is this too much to ask for?
4. Fujiwara’s food takes a little longer to receive, is fresher and tastes better. With Sushimoto’s quick delivery, I always wonder how long the food has been sitting on the tray waiting for someone to order it. Food should be served fresh. I think we sometimes forget that there is effort and time involved in receiving good, fresh food.
In hindsight, I am glad that Sushimoto was closed for the holidays. It gave us an opportunity to discover a new and better Japanese restaurant, Fujiwara. And we’ll be back, for sure.