Fresh starts in Fairhaven
What: Fujisan Sushi
Where: 1216 Harris Ave.
WHEN: 11am-3pm, 5pm-9pm daily
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
When the Bellingham Public Market closed last August, patrons of its primary tenant, Terra Organic & Natural Foods, were understandably upset that the establishment where they’d purchased sustainable and locally sourced groceries for more than 20 years was going out of business.
Although it was a blow to lose Terra, those of us who’d also frequented the market’s other food-related tenants—such as the Electric Beet Juice Co., Trapeze, Ambo Ethiopian Cuisine, and Maki Zushi—were beyond bummed that so many delicious dining options would also be disappearing from view.
While the Electric Beet Juice Co. soon found a new home on State Street, I hadn’t discovered anything about the fate of Maki Zushi until recently, when I heard a rumor owners Billy Chen and Mia Zhen had reopened in Fairhaven under the name Fujisan Sushi.
After a mid-March visit during their soft opening, it became clear their new restaurant is nothing like the old one. While the gigantic spicy tuna rolls and sashimi I used to order at Maki consisted of some of the freshest and tastiest sushi in town, it could take a while to get your order because the kitchen was small and the staff consisted solely of Chen and Zhen. (That said, it was always worth the wait.)
During our lunchtime visit to Fujisan, we snagged a table in a corner of the brightly lit space near 12th Street Shoes and took in the obvious changes, which included a lot more wait and kitchen staff, a longer menu—even though it was only for the soft opening period—and an understated yet calming color palette of white and dark blue.
Starting out simple for our first foray into the reimagined restaurant, we ordered miso soup, and two each of shrimp tempura rolls, California rolls, and spicy tuna rolls. The soup took awhile to get to us and lacked any of the tofu or green onions I’ve come to expect with the soup starter, but I immediately recognized that the quality of the rolls was intact. My date and I agreed we’d be back soon to explore the nigiri menu and try to discover what made their California rolls so amazing, and walked out with big smiles on our faces.
Not long afterward, I got an invitation from Chef Usanee Klimo to a “friends and family” celebration in advance of the reopening of her former restaurant, Maikham.
When I last wrote about Maikham in the fall of 2015, Klimo was operating her Thai- and Lao-focused eatery on State Street and I was a big fan of her innovative takes on menu items such as chicken avocado curry, shrimp phad thai, fresh spring rolls and other offerings I had problems pronouncing, but no issues eating.
Klimo has spent the last year making sure her new eatery in the Orca Building in Fairhaven is picture-perfect, and at the private party last weekend—which featured a whole lot of healthy-yet-delicious appetizers that reminded me of why I was enamored of her cooking—she told me she’s looking forward to opening her kitchen to the public once again.
Keep an eye out in coming days for more news about Maikham’s grand opening in coming days so you can then support the space when it opens.
Amid the flurry of friends and family who were visiting from Thailand just for the festivities on Saturday night, Klimo told me she’s hoping to open sometime in April. She can’t wait to get cooking.
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