Discreet Diner | Mt. Fuji Japanese Restaurant Sushi Bar & Grill

Posted: April 22, 2007

As America has diversified, so has its diet. This has made dining out an adventure. Some days, it's fun just to go out and explore.

That's what the Discreet Diner did when the clouds parted briefly last week. I headed into Gloucester County, and took the Deptford exit off Route 42. I didn't know where I was going, but I wanted something good for a late lunch.

As I sat at the light outside the Pathmark on Clements Bridge Road, I checked out the plaza's stores. There, just down from the grocery, was Mt. Fuji Japanese Restaurant Sushi Bar & Grill.

Anybody who knows South Jersey knows that some of its best restaurants are in strip shopping centers. So I pulled in.

As I suspected, the dining room transports visitors light years from a shopping center parking lot. The small room has a sushi bar outside the kitchen and tables prettily set with linen napkins. A fish pond, filled with koi and make-a-wish coins, hums quietly.

There is a lot on the menu. Most lunch entrees come with salad, miso soup, rice, a four-piece California roll and a spring roll. I decided to get two selections and take one home for dinner.

The salad was typical iceberg lettuce with a very good ginger dressing that wasn't too sweet or too tart. The miso soup was surprisingly tasty, flavored by kelp and with soft bits of miso.

The Yaki Udon with chicken ($7.25) was a plate full of the thick wheat-based noodles in a light brown soy-based sauce with slices of chicken, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, scallions and sprouts. The flavors blended together nicely and it was a filling meal on a cold spring day.

The Shogayaki with chicken ($7.25) was a beautifully presented, well-balanced meal. Shogayaki is sauteed vegetables with ginger and teriyaki sauce. I was quite pleased with myself for getting such a good serving of vegetables, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and onion. The sliced pieces of white meat were sauteed with the vegetables. A scoop of steamed rice came with the vegetables, but they didn't need it.

The spring roll, sliced in half on an angle, had a nice crunch inside and out. I've always been partial to Japanese spring rolls, filled with cabbage, bamboo shoots and shrimp, and this did not disappoint.

The California roll was one of the best I've had in a long time. The ingredients were fresh and the rice wasn't so sticky that it took on a life of its own. It was the perfect consistency to complement the avocado and crab. The wasabi added good kick.

I enjoyed this meal. Japan is an island nation, and its seafood is among the world's best. The sushi offerings here are not exotic, but the chef's preparations are good theater.

Despite my best-laid plans, I ended up taking home both entrees. It was pretty smart of me, though, because it gave me another opportunity to enjoy Mt. Fuji.

Discreet Diner | Mt. Fuji Japanese Restaurant Sushi Bar & Grill

1450 Clements Bridge Rd., (Rt. 544), Unit 3, Deptford

Phone: 856-845-8835

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 12:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 12:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Reservations: No

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Parking: Lot

Children's menu: No

Cocktails: BYOB

The Discreet Diner is a member

of the Inquirer staff and welcomes your comments. E-mail discreetdiner@phillynews.com.

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