Restaurant review: A fat wallet is not required at Fat Fish
Dining out • Cheap sushi and pho in West Valley City.

By Heather L. King

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: April 3, 2014 11:32AM
Updated: April 7, 2014 04:26PM
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Keith Johnson | The Salt Lake Tribune The Kiss of Death roll at Fat Fish, a new sushi and pho restaurant in West Valley City, March 24, 2014.

If you are a regular customer at restauranteur Mai Nguyen’s other restaurants, you’ll immediately feel right at home at her newest creation — Fat Fish.

Although Fat Fish doesn’t resemble any of its predecessors in décor, menu items borrowed from Sapa and West Noodle & Chopstick (formerly Pho Green Papaya) are very familiar. Maki sushi rolls are plated individually on long, slender white platters with artful saucing just like those delivered at Sapa in Salt Lake City. (The heat-seeking Kiss of Death roll ($8) features a heartbeat written in sriracha, for example.)

A lengthy list of 15 pho options are reminiscent of Pho Green Papaya’s original offerings just across the parking lot in West Valley and will keep non-fish eaters satisfied.

Perhaps most notable is that Fat Fish offers the least-expensive prices of all its predecessors. All bowls of pho are $7.25. Sushi rolls made with the same ingredients as found at Sapa are at minimum $1 cheaper, with some saving an additional $2-$3 per maki roll. Part of this formula appears to be smaller slices of fish but for what Fat Fish is — an inexpensive sushi spot — that’s just fine. No roll is more than $8 and many begin at just $4 for a full roll with somewhere between five to eight pieces.

With only six types of fish on the menu, don’t expect wild creativity at Fat Fish but rather a solid example of decent, cheap sushi. You can enjoy two pieces of albacore, salmon, eel, tuna, yellowtail or escolar as nigiri for just $3 or three pieces of sashimi for just $6. And if sashimi is what you’re after, order the small ($10) or large ($14) platters with 9 or 12 pieces, respectively. The sashimi samplings are chef’s choice. On one afternoon, the chef offered buttery escolar, firm salmon and dark red tuna.

A large number of the rolls at Fat Fish begin with a base of California roll (crab, cucumber and avocado) and add a variety of sashimi and other toppings to build any number of location-specific rolls. Start with the Baja ($6) topped with hamachi, crisp jalapeno and green onion but then move up to the Westside roll ($8) with thin slices of the same yellowtail, lime and fresh jalapeno plus a crunchy tempura shrimp interior. Also featuring a California roll start was the albacore garlic roll ($5), sporting fried shavings of garlic cloves over pale white albacore tuna alongside a kicky garlic oil sauce.

The East Brooklyn roll ($8) was my favorite offering with plenty of tuna and crisp cucumber topped with crab, pops of masago (orange Capelin roe) and lime slices and green onions.

Not regularly a fan of fruit on my sushi, I rather enjoyed the Red Violin ($6), which featured slices of mango and strawberries encasing tempura shrimp. Not too sweet, the textures of the crunchy crustacean balanced the creamy, ripe fruits nicely.

By far the worst representation of a Vegas roll ($4) I’ve ever been forced to put in my mouth was also found here as the fried exterior tasting of old and overused oil. Avoid this one at all costs.

If appetizers are on the agenda, the seaweed salad ($4) was fresh and crunchy while the firecracker calamari ($6) offered nicely battered rings and tentacles along with jalapeno slices.

Fortunately, those who are craving pho won’t be disappointed at Fat Fish, either. An impressive selection of this Vietnamese beef noodle soup allows you just about any combination of steak, lean brisket, marbled brisket, tripe, tendon and meatballs in a flavorful broth supported by lots of fresh basil and sprouts.

Curiously, although I often enjoy various Japanese beers and sake at Sapa, I was unable to order anything but cheap American beers and Sapporo Light at Fat Fish. Knowing that it’s already being purchased for another restaurant, it seems that even just a case or two could be rotated into the lineup for an authentic offering. So, disappointed by the beer selection, I instead tried a fairly mundane version of Thai iced tea ($3) and a very pleasant brown rice hot tea ($2). Happily, Fat Fish continues the tradition of serving hot tea in gorgeous individual kettles and the helpful servers make a point to top it off with hot water regularly.

After a $1.2-million, family-financed renovation of the complex housing three of Nguyen’s restaurants, Fat Fish is a welcome addition to the West Valley dining scene to enjoy inexpensive sushi — besting that of all-you-can-eat competitors — and pho to warm the souls and tastebuds of diners.

Heather L. King also writes for www.theutahreview.com and can be found on Twitter @slclunches

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Fat Fish

Food • Hhj

Mood • Hhj

Service • Hhj

Noise • bb

West Valley’s newest sushi spot delivers maki rolls and one of the best selections of pho in the area.

Location • 1980 W. 3500 South, West Valley City; 801-887-7272

Online • http://fatfishwvc.wix.com/fat-fish

Hours • Lunch: Monday-Thursday,11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. -10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Children’s menu • No

Prices • $

Liquor • Beer

Corkage • n/a

Reservations • Yes

Takeout • Yes

Wheelchair access • Yes

Outdoor dining • No

On-site parking • Yes

Credit cards • All major