Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review July 2009
Fujiya… The Girlfriends’ Not-So-Secret Shopping And Dining Hangout!
By Dorothy and John Salmon
Women friends love to meet for lunch and combine it with shopping for those “can’t pass up” bargains. It’s even better when you can have a fabulous lunch, catch up on life, and then encourage each other to “just buy it, it looks great on you!” Dorothy and her pal Lauren consider this their personal brand of hometown stimulus package. While this is also perfectly acceptable behavior for men, John typically chooses to let the women go by themselves.
Lauren and Dorothy have a favorite dining/shopping program that combines lunch at Fujiya, then outlet shopping at the Napa Premium Outlets. They prepare themselves for marathon bargain shopping by having a wonderful, authentic Japanese meal with their friend Eiko Nakamura, the owner of Fujiya for over 20 years. Her food is wholesome, fresh, beautiful and, for the most part, low calorie. If you have not tried Fujiya, at the north end of the Premium Outlets near downtown Napa, you are missing out on one of the best kept secrets in town.
Fujiya serves authentic Japanese food with the special flair of Eiko’s very personal touch. She has been making people happy with her unique Japanese food by serving locals and visitors high quality specialties and doing it with class and style. You can have everything from teriyaki, to tempura, to sushi. If you are new to Japanese food, you can make it a great adventure! Try the killer sushis on the menu, or improve your day by trying sake with your meal. Old hands at Japanese food will love this place too!
Fujiya’s sushi chefs are fun to watch. They are friendly and informative, so you can also be entertained by sitting at the sushi bar! You will be pleased with the homey atmosphere, the terrific service and the great food.
Eiko Nakamura has been serving the traditional Japanese dishes she learned from her family in Japan, and perfected while she worked at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco’s Japantown, before moving to Napa. Many customers have been dining with Eiko since she opened, so it is sometimes like a family reunion when we show up for lunch.
Lauren and Dorothy hang out at Fujiya so often that Rhonda, their lovely favorite server, knows what they are likely to order before they even sit down. Eiko Nakamura is not only a great chef, she is also an artist, and her paintings hang prominently on the restaurant walls. If art is on your shopping list, you can start your lunch and shopping adventure right in the restaurant.
For lunch, we usually start with a seaweed salad ($6.25) and the Tempura appetizer ($7.50), along with the Edamame (boiled soybeans) ($5.75). We always have Eiko’s wonderful Miso Soup that is served with most meals, and all combination plates. Since we were not just having lunch, but also writing the restaurant review, we decided to skip dinner that night and combine lunch and dinner together. Unfortunately, this made it much harder to leave Fujiya and fit into the clothes on the sales rack! Undaunted by that thought, we ordered the California roll with crab meat ($7.95), the Scorpion with shrimp ($9.50) and the Nekko Chan ($9.25). We thought about ordering the Ricky Ricardo Roll with shrimp tempura inside with hamachi, maguro, green onion, crab, sesame sauce and tobiko on top, but decided we probably would not get out the door if we did!
We usually add easy to make recipes to our reviews so our readers can try their hand at new dishes. We actually took notes and started to describe how to make the Nekko Chan for this review. Half way through, however, we decided that it was a lot harder than we thought it would be for most novices to really turn out Eiko’s Nekko Chan. Combined with a larger than average shopping list for things like bamboo sheets, seaweed, bamboo mats and nozomi rice, we gave up and decided just to invite you to go there for lunch and make it easy on yourself!
Fujiya is a great place to take kids too. Dorothy’s two year old grandson Wil has been eating at Fujiya since he was a baby. Now that he is 2½, most of the rice stays in his mouth, NOT on the floor. Wil really likes the homemade ice cream Fujiya serves.
You can also order an assortment of sakes, plum wine, Japanese beer or wine from a small, but adequate, wine list. Eiko and her staff will be happy to walk you through the menu, make suggestions and help you find some new favorites. Their Combination Plates are really terrific and range in price from $17.25 for many dishes to $23.75 for Tempura and Filet Mignon. The sashimi is our favorite, and the Nigiri (fresh fish served Japanese style) is the best in town. Try the sushi rolls, the sushi combo plates, the lunch specials, and ask Eiko what her favorites are and she will introduce you to some exciting dishes.
Fujiya is located at 921 Factory Stores Drive, just off Hwy. 29 at First Street. Their phone number is (707) 257-0639 and they take cash, Visa and MasterCard, but no checks. They also cater dinners and luncheons and make gift certificates available for $25, $50 and $75.
Go with your friends, family and business contacts to enjoy Eiko Nakamura and her wonderful staff and fabulous food!