Jimmy Liang has been preparing sushi for most of his life.
He started making the signature Japanese dish when he was just 14 years old, and quickly developed his talent to become a head chef at age 18. In 1998, he opened his first restaurant at 19 years old with his best friend, Peter Tse. It was the Fuji Restaurant in Wollaston, Mass. and the surrounding area soon became attached to this long-awaited Japanese restaurant.
Just one year ago, the opening of Assembly Row in Somerville brought an influx of several new restaurants to the Allston neighborhood. Many are continuations of Boston classics, like Fuji, which is offering customers a blend of Japanese sushi and Southwestern Chinese Sichuan, drawing customers from across the city to the new hotspot.
Fuji’s first location was established in Quincy in 1998, and has become a popular Boston destination for Japanese cuisine ever since. With the addition of its Assembly Row restaurant, JP Fuji Group now has 9 locations in the Boston area.
Fuji’s new branch opened this past November, and already has been as successful as its Quincy and Cambridge locations, argues Jimmy Liang, the president, head chef, and founder of JP Fuji Group. The new spot features a main dining room, as well as a sushi bar and drink bar to attract customers.
“Assembly Row has been great so far,” Liang said. “This location has a huge growth potential and a great environment.”
Although there is a wide variety of other types of Asian cuisine offered, Fuji at Assembly focuses mainly on Japanese cuisine, especially sushi. The spicy tuna roll is by far the restaurant’s most popular item, and has been a best-seller for 17 years strong. Vegetarian maki (rolls) and temaki (handrolls), with options like mango avocado and sweet potato, are also offered to those with dietary restrictions.
Gluten-free customers can let the chef know if they need their dish adjusted accordingly. “They just let us know when they need something prepared to be gluten-free, and we can make it for them,” Liang said. Other than sushi, Fuji offers other tasty dinners like Sichuanese “Dried Fried” Green Beans and Beef cooked in the wok, as well as marinated ribeye tips with zucchini and bell peppers.
Fuji offers an array of Bento boxes. A lunchtime Bento box includes white rice, Miso soup, salad, spicy edamame, pork gyoza, shumai, sweet potato & zucchini tempura, spicy tuna maki, and chicken teriyaki. There are bi-weekly specials at all of its locations as well. They also offer classic desserts with Fuji’s own special twist. They make green tea tiramisu and fried cheesecake, where each slice is fried immediately before serving.
The fried dessert is such a hit that “we go through at least two dozen cheesecakes per week,” Liang said.
Nina and Jimmy Liang both pride themselves in the restaurant’s recent success in the local neighborhood. Fuji won Assembly Row’s recent “Chowdah Pot” competition in January—competing against five other establishments and restaurants in Assembly Row.
The restaurant also claimed first place in Assembly Row’s “Bartender Wars,” an eight-week tournament pitting Assembly Row’s most qualified bartenders up against each other.
Looking to the future, Fuji is hoping to become a staple in Assembly Row, while continuing to draw in customers from across the city to experience its Japanese cuisine in the new neighborhood. Liang’s business has grown significantly since its inception in 1998, and he plans to keep sushi connoisseurs flocking to his restaurant’s doors.
Featured Images by William Mennicken / Heights Staff