If there’s one thing I love about music, it’s a darn good remix. A good remix highlights the creator’s talents and creativity to transform someone else’s work into a masterpiece of their own. We’re not here, however, to talk about music (that’s more of Metropolis writer Julia Mascetti’s field). We’re here to talk about this writer’s latest obsession: gourmet fish burgers by Deli Fu Cious.
Food is like music; every sizzle, snap and crunch forms a rhythm that underscores the melody of the dish. To eat is to fundamentally engage your gustatory, visual and auditory senses. Similar to a remix, Deli Fu Cious spins its own twist on the classic trifecta of American diner food: burgers, fries and milkshakes.
Produced by former sushi master and owner of two Michelin stars, Shinya Kudo, the eatery focuses on sourcing natural, regionally-raised fish. Orders are made on the spot, so the buns remain crisp upon serving. The selection generally ranges from tuna and mackerel, to crab cream croquette and shrimp fritters, topped off with tomato salsa and leafy greens. With luxurious patties such as the thick slab of white fish marinated in sweet miso paste or the pickled tuna with a golden-brown crust, I guarantee that one look will convince you that this isn’t your average filet-o-fish burger.
I ordered the boiled conger tempura dog (¥1,200+tax), with pickled tuna and kobujime (traditional Japanese method of preserving fish) fish and chips (¥900+tax). For a sandwich stuffed with a lengthy piece of deep-fried eel drenched in the sauce it was simmered in, the dish is unexpectedly light. Every crunch is accented with a slurp of candied cucumbers and, combined with the additional tentsuyu (tempura dip) sauce, works to deliver an amalgamation of sweet and savory sensations. It’s one of those dishes that keeps you up at night and urges you to pencil in when you’re having it again… especially since the airiness of the dish will most likely leave you feeling hungry for a second round. The eel sandwich is a perfect snack to refuel a midday lull. If you’re searching for something more filling then you may want to consider burgers such as the saikyo grilled fish burger (¥1,200+tax) — a voluptuous dish with a chunky slice of miso and mirin-marinated (sweet rice wine) cod, topped with salsa and an original cheese sauce.
The fish and chips was a pleasant snack on the side, yet pales in comparison to its original menu of french fries with clam chowder sauce. The kombu-wrapped (kelp) tuna paired very well with the chunky tartar sauce, especially as the salty umami of the kombu mingled with the eggy bits of pickles in the sauce. However, the french fries and remaining fried white fish were a little underwhelming. If you’re thinking of getting a side dish to go with your burger, the creamy-addictive clam chowder sauce is the way to go.
To wash it all down, I selected the home made genmai tea shake (¥600+tax). The tea-flavored milkshake, much like the rest of the items on the menu, strikes a fine balance between traditionally thick sweetness and an elevated aftertaste of fragrant green tea. Perhaps it was inspired by the recent trend in tea-based lattes (e.g. hojicha, or roasted green tea), which combine the softness of milk with the earthiness of the tea leaves. Perfectly fine on its own, the tea shake will undoubtedly have its moment when the weather becomes warmer.
Deli Fu Cious is a humble single-floor establishment with minimal seating areas. An elevated platform divides the eating space with the kitchen, offering customers a peek below at the action. With a take-out option and standing sections, it exudes an air of sophisticated casualness. Fascinatingly, the interior of the restaurant is reminiscent of a sento or bathhouse, which can be seen through minor details such as the walls layered with minty green and white tiles, tiny China-blue glasses near the water cooler and ukiyo-e style tapestry of women bathing with Mt. Fuji in the background. These decorative choices serve to heighten the experience of dining at a Japanese fish-burger stand, and not to mention, serve as a great backdrop for your next Instagram post.
Off the main road and in an alley sandwiched by outdated teishokuya (Japanese set meal) restaurants, Deli Fu Cious is a breath of fresh air. On weekends, you’d be hard-pressed to find a time when there isn’t a line forming along the street. But if the wafting aroma of fried fish is an indication, it is definitely worth the wait.
Deli Fu Cious
1-9-13 Higashiyama, Meguro-ku
Mon-Sun (except Wed). 12pm-9pm.