Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
If we were to ask the people of Pittsburgh to name restaurants in the city serving traditional Japanese cuisine, a good bit of people would say Umi and then go blank; the rest of the people would just say “ummmmmmm? This is not surprising, the ‘Burgh has never been known for its Japanese eateries; Fukuda is going to try and change that. Opened in October 2012, Fukuda is the creation of Matt Kemp (formerly of Tamari) and Hoon Kim: Fukuda, they say means “blessed rice paddy”, we have no way to confirm or deny this.
It’s located in the former spot occupied by Stagioni, naturally they have done some remodeling. The space is small but not cramped, maybe holding 20 people. Decorations are minimal, a few pieces of art and some retro style wallpaper, and personally for us the most beautiful thing at the restaurant is the food! The main focal point in the space is the Sushi Bar with a small display case of the fish and 6 seats for a front row view of the action.
We arrived just as they opened and had our choice of where to sit, it was an easy choice; the Sushi Bar is where you want to be. This place gets in some amazing fish, most of which you have NEVER heard of; out of the 15 types of fish we had heard of 3. They get deliveries fresh from the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo; they also get in fresh Daruma Wasabi (not the fake powder/paste most people know about) from Frog Eyes Farm in Oregon (one of only four farms in the US producing real organic wasabi). The menu is small with a few cold dishes, a few hot dishes, and of course the fish; everything portion wise is small and meant to be shared. We started by ordering the small Chef’s Choice Sampler, a slab of slate with 3 types of fish, Tamago (Japanese egg cake), house pickled ginger, the fresh Daruma Wasabi (small extra charge, but worth it), and a small scoop of house-cured salmon roe. The fish was as fresh as it gets, firm, almost room temperature, firm, slightly sweet, some with great oil content.
Next up was the Pork Belly, super tender and just the right amount of fat. It was served with a coriander and Japanese mustard sauce with cilantro and crispy ginger; we could have just ordered more belly. The flavors and texture contrast was amazing.
We also shared the grilled Wagyu, grilled to a perfect med-rare with amazing marbling, it was sliced and served with yuzu bubbles, cilantro oil powder and micro greens; this was equally as amazing as the pork belly. The yuzu bubbles and cilantro powder were something we have never had before. Even after all that we still had a little bit of room left for some more; we opted to order more of the Salmon roe and yet another fish we had never heard of, but was delicious like all of the others. If you are feeling really brave then reserve a spot at Omakase Tuesdays- Omakase roughly means to “trust the chef”, it’s a set menu and only is available to 10 people every Tuesday night.
We are very excited that restaurants like this are popping up all over Pittsburgh. That being said, Fukuda is not for everyone (as is the case with many great restaurants), some people may not appreciate the cuisine, while others may not understand why it’s somewhat expensive. If you love fresh fish and are looking to try something different then get down to Bloomfield and grab a seat, you won’t be disappointed.
4770 Liberty Ave
Pgh, Pa 15224
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Late Night- Friday & Saturday 11pm-2am
Saturday & Sunday Brunch 12pm-2pm
Sunday Dinner 5pm-10pm
Available for Special Events Monday and Tuesday.