Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mt. Fuji Restaurant

I write this review with a bit of hesitation. You see, Mt Fuji (in Hillburn, NY) is more than just a restaurant. It's an ESTABLISHMENT. Growing up in nearby northern Jersey, I knew of the mythical powers of Mt Fuji that draw many a man to drive up its steep hill to dine on its summit. And it was for this very reason that I suggested (or rather, DEMANDED) to eat at Mt. Fuji on a recent trip to Nyack, NY. Our friends in Nyack had never heard of it, and Mt. Fuji, for all parties involved, was a brand new experience.

Mt. Fuji is a hibachi restaurant located on top of a huge hill right off of Old Route 17. You can see the restaurant from far away due to it's perched location. At the base of the hill (or mountain) is a huge red gate that welcomes you into the magical dining experience.
As you drive up the steep road you can get glimpses of the restaurant that is designed to look like a traditional japanese...well, I don't know my architecture, but it looks picked-up-in-a-freak-Japanese-twister-flung-across-the-ocean-(dropping off Dorothy in Kansas)-Japanese house.
Once on top of the mountain, there is required valet parking to make your life easier. Before you walk in, take some time to get your photograph in front of the large warrior statue or perhaps the coy pond with waterfalls.
Your photo-op (trust me, bring a camera) won't stop there. Walking inside the lobby is just as... well, I don't have words to describe it so here are a few pictures:
Now don't let this decor fool you. Once you enter the actual dining room, the atmosphere is much more subdued and the views out the windows are pretty darn good for right off Route 17 (if you're from the area, you'll know what I mean). Most tables are teppan-yaki tables which will make for a wonderful dinner show.

Now, at Mt. Fuji, you can order other food besides hibachi style dishes such as sushi (our friend Bob did this). To do such a thing would be absolutely foolish. The best, most amazing, part about Mt. Fuji, what makes it so great, IS the hibachi. You have many different hibachi options to choose from (prices range from the mid 20's into the low 30's). I will describe what I got for $26.75, and trust me, it was plenty of food.

After you sit down with your party, a nice lady in a kimono comes by and gives everyone a hot towel to wash with (you're probably's NY afterall). Then the food starts to come.
First course: a salad with ginger dressing. It's good but the best is yet to come.
Second course: Japanese Onion Soup. Delicious.
Third course: Shrimp. I don't like seafood but I heard it was good.
Fourth Course: (now this is where it gets good): As you begin to anticipate your main dish, a fine Japanese (of course) gentleman shuffles into the picture with a large wooden cart filled with food. He greets everyone hello with a smile and then begins to prep your (now very hot) tabletop with oil. He pours on vegetables and eggs (spinning them on his spatula) then noodles and spices, he laughs and jokes with you, he even sings Shakira. You are thoroughly entertained. He dishes out your fried rice, noodles, and vegetables. Then he begins to cook your meat. Another song, this time MC Hammer, and your meat is almost done.
You've had a drink or two...the drink waiter is encouraging sake bombs and the woman in the kimono is giggling at you silly Americans. It's at this point you realize that if the food stinks it would be okay because for 30 bucks you are getting a great show. But then, you bite into your banzai chicken and filet mignon and you realize...the food is good. Like, really good. Maybe it's the atmosphere, maybe it's one too many colorful drinks but the filet melts in your mouth, the chicken is perfectly marinated and delicious. Everything is perfect here at Mt. Fuji.

You've now finished up dinner, the tea (included in the price) is being served and suddenly, out of nowhere appears a huge dragon's head. It swoops down around the table and stands above our guest of honor screaming "Happy Birthday!". We're ALL screaming Happy Birthday! And that Dragon is milking the moment for all its worth. A candlestick comes out, wrapped in plastic flowers. The birthday boy makes a wish and dines on the healthier cantelope (apparently, the chocolate cake would be too rich). We pay the bill (very reasonable) and walk out of Mt. Fuji with satisfied bellies and memories that will last a lifetime.

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