One of the latest Japanese restaurants to arrive in Damansara Jaya, Fugu is a pleasant surprise — tasting better than it looks from the outside.

Fugu, the pufferfish, is a food connoisseur’s discomfiting dream (to eat or not to eat?). Fugu Neo-Japanese Restaurant in Damansara Jaya, however, will not test your courage.

A glance at the menu shows no mention of the fugu word.

There is, however, a fugu special bento set that funnily enough serves a cacophony of sashimi, tempura, unagi and saba fish bits. Not that I would’ve tried any fugu even if they had it, since only a handful of chefs in the world are licensed to deal with the lethal fish.

Despite sending out the wrong signals, Fugu the restaurant delivers a mouthwatering experience in every bite.

As one of the newest eateries on the block, Fugu is brightly lit with see-through glass doors that open into a modest dining hall with no more than 10 tables. While the place is clean and new, I couldn’t help but feel that dimmer lighting (instead of fluorescent blue and pink light sabres) would’ve done more to tone down the sterile-looking environment.

With its polite “Irashaimase!” greeting when customers walk in and the prompt service by its friendly staff, Fugu gets two thumbs up for efficiency — five to 10 minutes was all it took for the nine-piece sashimi sampler (salmon, white tuna and red tuna slices for RM24) to arrive at the table, fresh and succulent, both in look and taste.

Accompanied by salty preserved ginger and a pinch of very mild wasabi that lacked “kick”, the sashimi was nevertheless thickly sliced and perfect.

CB35FD3BF0FE497C9D295A78A626E3C9The sumptuous nine-piece sashimi sampler. — LEE MEI LI

The neo-Japanese side of Fugu came in the form of eight delicately-prepared cubes christened Pattaya Roll (RM28) — crispy softshell crab topped with avocado and a drizzle of Thai sauce and cashew nut sprinkles. A lacy garnishing of fried beetroot added a yummy chewy texture to the otherwise melt-in-your-mouth sensation of sticky rice wrapped in creamy avocado goodness.

Pleasantly drenched in sweet Japanese curry is the Torikatsu Chicken Cutlet Set (just add RM3 to the RM21 for the curry). Warm cubes of juicy stewed carrots add to the tenderness of the deep-fried chicken slices, finely-breaded to taste like mum’s home-cooked food.

Another set worth mentioning is the Grilled Saba Set (RM20) — a generous portion of mackerel fish in all its scrumptious glory. Each mouthful is a fishy tang of freshness that goes very well with a slurp of piping hot miso soup.

FF5C947C06294B6E8B60A0D0E92C69F9The saba set.— LEE MEI LI

While their Gyuniku Teppanyaki Set (RM21) looked promising with its plump and juicy New Zealand sirloin beef cubes, I found the dish a tad too oily. The unpleasant sensation quickly went away with a spoonful of refreshing macha ice cream with red bean paste (RM6).

If green-tea flavoured desserts are too much of a Japanese cliché for you, try the peanut ice cream which tastes like a cold and creamy chunk of decadent peanut butter.

Fugu’s food quality and presentation are top-notch — definitely worth its price. I wished, though, that they had made more of an effort in creating a culturally-rich Japanese ambience for the restaurant. Nevertheless, if you’re craving Japanese food on a weekend but shudder in fear of sardine-packed shopping mall car parks, then Fugu is a good alternative.

Parking here during the weekend is a cinch.

Fugu Neo-Japanese Restaurant, 6, Jalan SS22/25, Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Tel: (03) 7710 0076. Open: 11.30am-3pm and 5.30pm-10pm (closed on Monday).

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