Healthy, organic Japanese food. Buzzwords may draw a crowd to Fukada in Irvine, but the delicious taste keeps them coming back. Because it’s in the same plaza as a 24 Hour Fitness, it’s not uncommon to see the same people frequenting both locations. Tucked away in a small plaza on the outskirts of town across the street from the Verizon Amphitheater, Fukada is not really the type of place you just come across randomly; you’ll most likely have to be introduced. There is also a “2 Go” location in north Irvine, not far from the UCI campus, with a slightly different menu.
In authentic Japanese restaurant fashion, Fukada is closed on Mondays, and regular hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. There can be a wait, so if you don’t get there early, you’ll most likely end up having to wait until the end of the lunch or dinner hours to get in.
But the food is worth the wait. The tasty dishes also have this way of bringing out good conversations here. The food just brings out a joy that must be expressed. The dishes are mainly soups (udon or soba), rice bowls and various appetizers you would expect at a Japanese restaurant. The tempura is great, especially the scallops and avocado. The overall taste is all is very clean and not too heavy. The iced green tea is good and, unlike some other restaurants, refills are free.
The best deals are, as always, the combinations. At Fukada, there are separate lunch and dinner combinations. The prices differ by a couple dollars and a few extra choices for dinner. You can choose either a soup combination or a seafood salad combination. For the soup, you choose either 1) udon or soba, 2) hot or cold or 3) tanuki (tempura crumbs, basically) or sansai (mountain vegetables). These are paired with rice bowls with the choice of either white or brown rice (they tend to run out of brown rice toward closing time).
The seafood salad combination is basically the same, substituting in the salad for the soup, but is also a little more expensive. There is a good amount of fish in the salad and the dressing is sweet and not too tangy. Upon request, the rice bowls can be substituted at an extra cost for ones not on the combination list. The go-to order here is the seafood salad combination with the spicy tuna don (rice bowl) on brown rice. It’s clean, satisfying and good for lunch or dinner.
Just to be clear, Fukada is not a sushi restaurant – something that should be conveyed when introducing people to the establishment, to clear any of those expectations Fukada virgins might have. The restaurant serves rolls, but it’s not the specialty here.
It gets pretty busy, so sometimes the service gets slow or infrequent, but the wait staff is all very nice and hospitable. They thank you as you walk out after your visit, not just after paying your bill. You’ll most likely thank them right back for such an enjoyable meal.