[This Hole-In-the-Wall-Life] A Zen Burrito at Fuji's Famous Burgers
Southern California ingenuity has produced the pastrami burrito, the hot-dog burrito, even that gabacho offshoot called the wrap. But nothing is a better testament to the burrito's standing as our official cuisine than the ones served at FUJI'S FAMOUS BURGERS.
As the name suggests, Fuji's is Japanese at its roots but American in execution. The only pure Japanese dishes are the miso soup, tart pickled cucumbers and a bowl of salted edamame—all great, but afterthoughts to the mad amalgamations practiced at this comfy dive. There are sandwiches, greasy-good onion rings and cheese sticks, and the best spinach salads served at a place not run by vegetarians. But the big sellers are the hamburgers, which rival TK's for the county's non-chain best. It's not so much their taste—although any Fuji's burger is delish—but the restaurant's understanding of how to execute a proper burger: not overwhelming like a Carl's Jr. monstrosity or gussied up à la some nouveau American supper club, but a modest take grilled down to the necessities. Each of the 10 options is one-sixth of a pound—enough to fill you, but not weigh you down for the rest of the day—and comes with lettuce, tomato, and smears of ketchup and mayo (mustard is available upon request). Fuji's most famous burger is the teriyaki pineapple: The interplay between the beef patty, sweet bun, hearty pineapple and dollop of teriyaki sauce is the best union of East and West since Ann Curry. Get a combo—medium soda with unlimited refills and a side of fries—for about two bucks more, then drown the fries in Sriracha hot sauce.
Back to those burritos. I'm sure someone—probably some hapa stoner—has thought of stuffing fried rice, Sriracha, cheese and Japanese-style meats into a flour tortilla, but I doubt anyone does it better than Fuji's. The egginess of the fried rice is a natural conduit for the meats (teriyaki chicken and beef and barbecue pork) and hot sauce, but combining it with cheese adds sweetness, and the crispiness that Fuji's creates for its flour tortillas by leaving them on the fire just a little longer than usual creates something that's more than mere novelty. This is a damn good burrito, as appealing to someone in SanTana as a Costa Mesa hipster. Fuji's also offers the same Japanese-American approach with its tacos—good, but nowhere near the revolutionary burritos, which you should gorge on until you've gained a pants size.
Fuji's Famous Burgers, 15885 Gothard St., Huntington Beach, (714) 891-6066.
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