Over the years, I've found that sushi in the Midwest, especially in smaller cities, is usually a hit or miss kind of thing. That's why when I agreed to meet with the co-owners who run an audio/video dealership we sell to in St. Cloud, MN over sushi last year, I was a little less than eager to meet up with them at the place - Fuji Sushi and Steakhouse. However, the sushi was surprisingly excellent, as was the hibachi steak that we had, as well. When I was in the St. Cloud area earlier this summer, I set up another lunch appointment at Fuji Sushi and Steakhouse. This time, I was actually looking forward to the meal.
In May of 2010 when a lot of restaurants were closing up due to the downturn in the economy, Fuji Sushi and Steakhouse opened their doors on the corner of S. 2nd St. and S. 2nd Ave. in Waite Park, a small connected suburb to St. Cloud's Southwest side (see map). Pat Rogosheske is the managing partner in the place. Rogosheske was born and raised in Japan and had about 25 years of restaurant experience before opening the doors to Fuji Sushi and Steakhouse. The restaurant has thrived on the strength of great food at a good price. Rogosheske does a lot of promoting of the restaurant through in-house specials and discounts.
The entry way of the restaurant features a cozy waiting area and hostess stand. The bar is off to the left as you walk down the hall to the main dining room. There's a sushi bar opposite the regular bar with a number of booths in a lounge nearby.
The main dining room features six hibachi stations where the chefs give diners a "Benihana"-type experiece, complete with all the hibachi chef's food tricks. As I said, we had both sushi and hibachi last year and it was very, very good. On this visit, we opted to sit at the sushi bar, conduct some business and have some lunch.
We took a look through the menu, but one of the guys told me they had some killer lunch specials. As I said, one of Pat Rogosheske's marketing plans is offer discounts and specials - especially during lunch. One of the daily lunch specials that is your choice of two sushi rolls with a cup of the miso soup for $9.95. Now, that's a killer deal. I remembered their spicy tuna rolls were very good from the year before, so I ordered two of those with the miso soup. One of the guys from my dealer ordered a couple rolls on his own with the soup while the other guy ordered a the sushi roll and five pieces of sushi special. The time to make the rolls and sushi gave us ample time to go over programs, numbers and get caught up with what was what.
The sushi/sushi roll was the first thing to come out. The presentation was very nice with the roll in the middle with the five pieces of sushi spoked out from the center. Remarkably, the sushi is as fresh as fresh can be for a sushi place in St. Cloud, MN. It doesn't have a fishy taste to it - something I've run into in much larger cities.
After finishing the miso soup, our sushi rolls came out. The spicy tuna rolls were, once again, outstanding. They had a nice texture to the bite and a nice little spicy zip to the taste. I was overly happy with the rolls, but I was thinking I wanted to try something else.
The other guy who got the same special as me also thought he needed a couple pieces of sushi, so we ordered up about 8 more pieces that we shared between the two of us. The smoked salmon was delicious, as was the maguro tuna. I remarked, "This is so unbelievable that you guys can have this good of sushi in St. Cloud. I'd put this place up against sushi places in much larger cities."
One of the guys said, "Oh, yeah. We've had sushi in a lot of places and we think this place is one of the best we've ever had. I'll tell you, it blows away most of the sushi places in the Twin Cities."
Thanks to these guys, I've had some pretty good and memorable meals in St. Cloud over the past few years, but it's tough to beat Fuji Sushi and Steakhouse for great sushi. The lunch specials are a bargain, but the sushi can be a little high priced. But, still, to get sushi that good in a small market is worth the extra price. After two visits to Fuji Sushi and Steakhouse, I can't say enough good things about the sushi at the place. It's truly remarkable and - surprisingly - very good.