Some things just NEED to be fresh - my dental hygienist's breath, hotel bed sheets, and most definitely - my sushi. That is why FIN in Fairfield is my pick for outstanding Sushi restaurant in the area. We sat outside for this latest visit, overlooking the Post Road. But the indoor seating is just as comfortable with capacity for about 50. FIN isn't fancy and it isn't trendy. The decor is simple and unassuming and the wait staff is as friendly as they come. But most importantly, the fish - well - it's delish.
Many sushi restaurants in the area fly much of their fish in daily from Japan. FIN is no exception, a fact made clear by their melt-in-your-mouth, zero-sinew quality of the sashimi. Whatever wee fishy you may be delighting in over dinner, was delighting in his own meal not long ago. Prime example - the outrageously delicate "CITRUS SALMON" appetizer. Simple and sublime, slices of the freshest salmon arrive, Spirograph style, on your plate with citrus slices on top. Squeeze the sweet fruit on top or allow the juices to seep into the fish at their own rate, and this is sashimi gold. Again, it is not the complexity of the dish but the utter freshness of the ingredients that makes FIN my #1.
Now as Nobu is the classic "bar setter" with sushi connoisseurs, we had to sample FIN'S version of Nobu Matsuhisa's classic, MISO COD. Alaskan black cod is steeped in sweet miso before it is baked in the oven. Then, a miso paste consisting of sake, mirin, white miso paste and sugar and combined and drizzled over the fish. Moist and flakey, now that's a nice piece of fish!
The spicy YELLOW TAIL JALPENO is also a stand out. Soft, tender YELLOW TAIL or HAMACHI (also known as Japanense Amberjack), each slice with its own green ring of fire daring you partake, awaits. The combination of the sweet, delicate and rich nature of this Northwest Pacific native with the fiery essence of the pepper (actually a fruit!) is a taste-bud extravaganza. First, you taste the sweet and feel the softness of the fish and crunchiness of the pepper. Then, as you swallow, the heat surrounds your palette. It's candy.
I always judge a SUSHI joint on the quality of its IKURA; maybe it's not for everyone but it's my personal favorite. The large salmon roe must be bright orange, icy cold, and never gloppy. These beads from the sea must pop with each bite like bubble wrap for your tongue. Cold, sweet ocean must wake your senses as you crunch. At FIN, this happens at every visit.
And then there were rolls! You just HAVE to order a CALIFORNIA ROLL when you go to a sushi restaurant. It's a given - like eating your main course before your dessert - but I'm not sure why. You can order here with white rice or brown but I tend to prefer the white rice version. FIN'S CALI is fine. It doesn't surprise or shock, but then again, what can you expect from the belly-button of rolls? (Belly buttons -you know - everyone has one!) FIN'S is fresh and the seaweed is sweet, but the crab stick center (which is mostly pulverized white fish and Pollock with crab flavoring) can't compare, ever, to the wildly exotic nature of the authentic fishes that are offered here. To me, CALIFORNIA ROLLS are the CHICKEN NUGGETS of Sushi. But we all crave a good NUGGET now and then.
The real stars of FIN'S SHOW are their signature House Rolls that the wonderfully talented sushi chefs concoct. These rolls are all sumptuous and the chefs do a great job of juxtaposing unusual combinations of ingredients. But I do have my favorites. I love the JAGUAR ROLL! This wacky assemblage of spicy yellow tail and seared toro (tuna) with Fuji Apple and black tobiko crunch will delight your senses. Another well executed roll is the aptly named AMAZING ROLL! Here, lobster salad and peppered toro are wrapped with cucumber and avocado, laced with mango sauce and topped with tobiko and scallion.
Liquor may be quicker but the slow buzz you get from these quirky rolls and the supreme sashimi is by far the superior high. FIN. Swim on by.