“Do you know of a good Japanese in Milan?” “Yes, of course.” Who wouldn’t? Everyone has their favorite Japanese restaurant (and rightly so). You’ve got the ones who want fusion, or those who love the new trends of Japanese mixes (delicious all the same), those who want their food cooked only, those who don’t care as long as there are no Chinese cooks… but where should someone who really wants a taste of Japan go? To Fukurou. No one else like him. Who suggested him to me? A Japanese girl transplanted to Milan, the mother of one of my little brat’s nursery friends. She was right… but let’s take this one step at a time.
With Japanese elegance, she politely but firmly scorned all of my favorite Japanese restaurants with a “no and no and no” with logical and heart felt reasoning: “the fish isn’t caught in the sustainable fishing zone”, “the cooks aren’t Japanese”, “the miso doesn’t have an authentic flavor”… and then she said “do you know Fukurou?”
This little place, that has only one window, in the heart of Milan’s Japan (not far from the Japanese school) is on a busy road (right in front of the pious Trivulgio hotel) and it is truly a sight for sore eyes. When you cross that threshold it’s like entering Japan. The slight bow of the cooks and waiters really make you feel like, yup, it’s authentic.
There are two halls: the entrance with two counters and two tables and the main hall with more private tables and conversations protected by elegant dividers. The bathroom is perfect in its well-cared, hygienic and clean simplicity. I take a seat (luckily I booked the last available table!) and I notice that at the counter, in front of the cooks (I feel like I’m at one of those fish stalls near the Tokyo fish market) five or six Japanese people, that are talking and tasting their meals. The menu is perfect and it’s a mix, sushi and sashimi yes, but their boxes too, the day’s menu and ramen. You read that right RAMEN, lots of them and of different kinds. With gyoza, the originals. With that crispiness that I had long been searching for even in the more renowned restaurants. (Gyoza, for those who are unfamiliar, are Japanese ravioli, elongated and cooked on the griddle.)
The mixed sushi has the perfect cut of fish. Before they cut it they ask if you like it with or without wasabi (a courtesy that is highly Japanese). Soy sauce in the little dish is already portioned. You’re here to eat sushi not to completely eliminate the flavor of all the fish with soy sauce, right? The taste of fish? Exquisite. The grouper was delicious, the original scallop sushi is brilliant, the cuttlefish balanced. Sashimi perfect. Depending on how much fish they serve, before accepting the order the waiter asks how many types of fish are still available.
The Ramen… just having a choice in the type of Ramen gets me euphoric: pork broth with shredded meat, broth of mixed meats, miso, fish and beef broth, fish broth only… try them all before you really choose your favorite! Some are spicy (according to tradition) and others are not. If in doubt, the waiter’s precious advice will steer you right. Obviously there are optional add–ins (egg, fish, beef) to be as similar as possible to the real Ramen.
All you have left to do is call, book and taste. And then start over again. Konnichiha.