First week of school done after Easter and I was desperate for some yummy food. Being a huge fan of all things Japanese….karaoke, food, taking photos the list goes on, a few years ago I was introduced to a small Japanese restaurant called Fuji Hiro. Fuji Hiro is a bit of an institution in Leeds city centre. It’s a small independent Japanese restaurant, unpretentious and almost cafe-like that essentially serves noodle and rice dishes, but with a whole lot more to offer as well.
Having only lived in Leeds as a working woman and not studied like some of my friends at one of the local universities, I had no idea of it until I was introduced to it by a friend. So I was completely sucked in by the food immediately and have been a regular for a number of years.
The menu consists of side dishes, a good range of gyoza, edamame (steamed soya bean with cracked sea salt), chicken yakitori, tofu and tempura tiger prawns. As you’ve read they’re not called starters, in japanese noodle restaurants often the first 2 courses are cooked at the same time so they often come out at the same time. You can request for them to come out as a starter and main course though.
For the main dishes there are pan fried noodles e.g. soba (buckwheat), udon (thick) and men (thin) noodles. A wide range of ramen dishes, e.g. chilli chicken, chilli beef and seafood ramen and finally the rice dishes e.g. cha han, yasai cha han and the very popular chicken katsu curry. There are lots of vegetarian options too.
The lady who runs the restaurant is always very welcoming and asked if I wanted to order straight away or if I needed a couple of minutes to peruse the menu. I normally order my usual and being a creature of habit also did on this occasion. I went for ebi gyoza, ebi katsu (I know 2 starters but they are too good) and a cha han served with a glass of dry white wine and an orange juice, a strange habit I know and I’ve no idea why I always have both drinks. Now being a wine drinker Fuji Hiro isn’t a restaurant known for the quality of it’s wines, the one and only negative comment I could say about the place. It does serve green tea and the usual Japanese beers Asahi Superdry, Sapporo and Kirin and Sake, for lovers of the strong stuff!
My ebi gyoza were yummy, the prawns were very juicy and the carrot and Chinese chives give an extra dimension making them really delicious. Great gyoza should be gently pan fried on the bottom but steamed at the same time cooking the filling to perfection. I’ve never been disappointed by Fuji Hiro’s gyoza and always order them. The ebi katsu are to die for, the prawns are sweet and juicy with lots of katsu crumb so they have a fantastic crust. Always served with a lime wedge and chilli sauce which works fantastically with prawns. It never surprises me how quickly I manage to devour both.
The cha han can only be described as a mountain of lovely soft rice, all cooked to perfection so all the grains are separate, lots of shredded chicken and julienne carrot, sliced mushroom, sweet prawns, lettuce and the green part of a leek to give a mild onion flavour to the dish. It may sound like just a dish of fried rice, but it’s so much more than that, incredibly moreish and the portion sizes are big! Customary with rice dishes are the japanese pickles on the side which help to cut through the dish and also a bowl of steaming miso soup to help wash it down.
If you can’t sit down for a meal they also offer the whole menu for takeaway, which I have used many times, well worth it when you need a Fuji Hiro fix and they even give you napkins and chopsticks!
Side dishes are £2.95 – £6.60, noodles are £7.95 – £11.95, ramen are £7.95 – £12 and rice dishes are £7.50 – £8.95. They offer a set meal for £14.95 (vegetarian) or £15.95 (non-vegetarian), this includes a side dish, main dish and a bottle of beer or glass of wine. The cost of my meal for one was £24.70 (a set meal, ebi katsu and juice), in my mind great value for money considering the quality and the amount of food.
Overall the food is always consistently yummy and the service is good. They have built up a loyal following over the years and it’s fantastic that this independent restaurant has many regular customers. Leeds may have many other Japanese restaurants, e.g. Wagamama, Yo sushi, Little Tokyo and Wasabi Teppanyaki, but if you want great food and value for money I would ALWAYS choose Fuji Hiro over any of these.Fuji Hiro 45 Wade Lane Merrion Centre Leeds LS2 8NJ 0113 243 9184