You might want to be careful how you say the name of Paul Ardaji’s soon-to-debut Clematis Street restaurant. You might also want to mark your calendars for its projected mid-April opening date, as Fuku promises to spice up the local dining scene with an heaping helping of big-city Asian-Fusion cuisine and urban nitelife style.
Ardaji, the creative force behind the Cabo Flats chain of LA-inspired Mexican eateries (with which he’s no longer involved), says the Fuku concept blends two of New York’s hippest Asian restaurants: the giant, theatrical pan-Asian Tao and Nobu Matsuhisa’s seminal modern Japanese-sushi hotspot, Nobu.
Fuku’s striking design elements are almost too numerous to mention, but among most notable of them are a 13-foot statue of the Buddha lit with LED lights constantly changing color, a 30-foot “water wall” lined with Japanese river stones, a communal table for 20 made of honey onyx that’s lit from within, a 500-gallon custom-made jellyfish tank that spans 10 by four feet, a pair of massive mirrored TV screens that don’t look like TVs until you see the picture, an upstairs mezzanine-lounge that seats 30 and overlooks the dining room and exhibition kitchen, and a 3,200-square-foot downstairs dining room with space for 120.
The menu from former Napa Valley chef Shawn Kaplan will meld Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese cuisines, Ardaji says, though the emphasis will be on the cuisines of China and Japan. . . and, of course, lots of sushi. Look for a roster of traditional and wacky-maki sushi rolls, a variety of small plates (like tuna sashimi pizza with wasabi aioli), and other dishes like duck confit spring rolls, seafood risotto and sake-steamed sea bass.
A celebrity sushi chef to be named later will be coming on board too, though Ardaji made me swear not to spill the fermented black beans just yet. Oh, and about that name. . . “Fuku” in Japanese means “good fortune.” Ardaji says he even ran it by one-time partner Masaharu "Iron Chef" Morimoto, who gave it thumbs up. So get your mind out of the gutter.