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Mt. Fuji – It’s not just dining, it’s an experience – Part Two

 

The other day I wrote a post about our experience at the Mt. Fuji restaurant in Hillburn, New York (not too far from New York City). I had so much to say that I had to break the post up into two parts. If you have yet to read part one, you can read it here – Mt. Fuji – It’s not just dining, it’s an experience – Part One.

In my previous post I wrote about Mt. Fuji’s new Y Lounge, located at the restaurant. Not only is it a fabulous place to hang out in before your meal, but it’s also a great place to meet up with family, friends and co-workers to hang out, relax, and enjoy some mouth watering food and great live music (live music is available on select days). You can also come to enjoy the amazing views from on top of the mountain.

After our visit to the Y Lounge, my husband and I were taken to the main dinning area for dinner.

Mt. Fuji is a family friendly restaurant. We saw a lot of children while we were there. We even had a toddler seated at the table with us.

Mt. Fuji has several “party rooms” for large groups. Their hibatchi tables seat eight people. If there are less than eight people in your group you will most likely be seated with other guests. That’s OK because it promotes a sense of community, and it’s a fun way to meet new people.

We weren’t able to chat with the people seated opposite us, but we did have short conversations with the gentleman seated to the left of me (his wife was too busy with their toddler).

The restaurant also offers special booths that give you the sense of authentic Japanese dining. In Japan, people traditionally eat seated on the floor. It’s not that easy to sit on the floor at a busy restaurant, so Mt. Fuji created these special tables/booths with lower benches to give you the sense of eating on the floor, without actually sitting on the floor. You even have to take off your shoes prior to sitting down in one of these special booths (for the Hibachi style eating you keep your shoes on). In these booths, your food is brought to you instead of being cooked in front of you at the Hibachi tables.

These tables are also located next to the windows, offering guests the best views.

The above pictures is one of those tables. Its not the best photo, but hopefully you get the idea.

When we can coordinate it with our busy children, I’d like to take them to Mt. Fuji to experience this type of dining. You need at least four people to sit in these booths, and we’re a family of four, so that works out great.

My husband and I were seated at one of the Hibachi tables. If you are unfamiliar with dining at a Hibachi restaurant, it means that your food is cooked right there in front of you. If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s a lot of fun.

When you are seated at the table you will notice the authentic Japanese dishes nicely arranged around the table.

You’ll notice the traditional soup spoons.

Each place seating comes with a set of chop sticks for an authentic dining experience. They also have traditional eating utensils for those who have not yet mastered chop sticks. My husband used a fork to eat, while I gave chop sticks a shot for most of my meal (I had a hard time eating rice with the chop sticks).

I should mention that the restaurant has a nice variety of beverages. Ice water is given out with your meal (and refills are readily available). My husband enjoyed a fruit punch while I had a “virgin” Strawberry Daiquiri (non-alcoholic).

Their menu had plenty to choose from, in fact, I had a hard time deciding on what I wanted. There were so many options that I wanted to try. My husband is not a fan of seafood (which they have a lot of on their menu), but he found a great chicken meal to order. They do have plenty of chicken and beef options to choose from.

We both ordered Banzai Chicken, made with sesame teriyaki sauce. You can get add-ons such as shrimp, lobster, sirloin and other delicious options. I got sea scallops as an add-on. My husband just stuck with the chicken.

I’m not sure if it’s the case with all menu options, but our meal came with soup, salad, shrimp, rice, noodles and vegetables. The other guests seated at our table also receive the same food items, so it might all come with all meals.

My husband doesn’t like seafood, so I happily ate his shrimp that came with his meal. YUM!!!

The soup is onion soup and it is SO GOOD!!! The salad comes with a house made ginger dressing. Oh my goodness! It was so good! And the shrimp – MMMMM!!!!

What I LOVE about this style of dining is that they not only cook the food in front of you, but the chef is so entertaining. He just didn’t stand there and cook – he put on a show! He even did things to entertain the toddler that was seated at our table. I like that he personalized his “cooking show” to entertain all of his table guests.

Here is an example of our chef cooking our shrimp. I took two other videos, but sadly, the guests seated across from us appeared in both of them. I do not like to use people’s images without their consent. For that reason I cannot share those videos. Sorry.

 

It’s amazing to watch the chefs cook. I could sit and watch them for hours.

My favorite was when he turned a stack of onions into a “volcano” that had real flames shooting from on top of it. Those onions ended up in our meal too.

Everything is freshly made to order. It’s evident when you watch the chef cook, as well as taste your meal. Many ingredients come from Japan too (obviously not the fresh foods, I’m referring to the other ingredients).

The food we had was EXCELLENT! From start to finish – everything was cooked perfectly and taste OH SO GOOD!

Piles of food!

Plenty of rice and noodles for everyone at our table.

The top dipping sauce is some kind of a spicy mustard sauce. The one on the bottom is a ginger sauce which was OUT OF THIS WORLD good!

My meal prior to the chef adding the teriyaki chicken. I had already started eating it at this point, so there was even MORE food on my plate.

Close up of the perfectly cooked sea scallops. Mmm!

Close up of the moist and delicious teriyaki chicken.

There was so much food that I had to take some of my plate home with me. My husband gobbled all of his food up.

EVERYTHING about our meals was incredibly good, right down to the salad and sauces. I cannot wait to go back to either have this again, or try other menu items.

We topped our meal off with dessert. My husband had chocolate ice cream. I had green tea ice cream. I’ve never had green tea ice cream before. It was wonderful! And it was a huge portion.

Green tea ice cream.

During our meal, a man wearing a dragon head came around to sing “Happy Birthday” to guests who were celebrating their birthdays that night. There were probably a half dozen people there for their birthday that night. Needless to say, Mt. Fuji is a fun place to celebrate a special occasion.

The dragon head worn by the person helping people celebrate their special day.

I neglected to mention, most of the female employees wear traditional Japanese kimonos and shoes – imported from Japan, so they are authentic. The men all wear suits (except the chefs). There is no dress code at the restaurant (it used to be that men had to wear ties), however, appropriate attire is required.

A female employee in a traditional Japanese kimono.

Another thing worth noting is that when you are in the restaurant, look up. Even the ceilings are beautifully decorated. The designs are handcrafted from Japanese artists who either came to the restaurant to do their work, or the work was imported from Japan. Everything looks so beautiful from the floor to the ceiling.

Even the bathrooms were beautiful, bright and clean.

After our meal, the owner, Nancy Fujita, took us downstairs to see The Views area of the restaurant. The Views is a space used to host weddings and special events. It’s also open to the public every Sunday for brunch.

This space is GORGEOUS! I joked with my husband that next time I get married I want to have my reception there (ha ha).

Not only is the giant room bright and colorful, but the seating areas are stunning. I cannot imagine hosting a brunch with children and the messes they must make on the fine linens. Mrs. Fujita said that everything is washed, so it’s not a problem.

The Sunday brunch is held from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, with the last seating at 2:00 PM.

The cost is $35 per adult and $15 per child. Trust me, that price is well worth it for the amount of food available to you. Here is just a SAMPLING of some of the buffet foods available (please note that their menu changes weekly).

  • Asparagus & Gruyere Cheese Frittata
  • Country Style Bacon & Sausage
  • Texas Style French Toast
  • Raspberry Cheese Blintzes
  • Eggplant Rollatini
  • Pasta (Penne Vodka, Pesto, or Primavera Tortellini Alfredo, Rigatoni Bolognese, Ravioli with Lobster Sauce)
  • Chicken (Florentine, Teriyaki, Provencal, Mediterranean, Marsala)
  • Roast Pork Loin (Mango Chutney, Southern BBQ)
  • Beef (Bourguignon, Stir Fry, Pink Peppercorn)
  • Merlot Demi-Glace or Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs
  • Atlantic Salmon (Teriyaki, Piccata, Saffron Cream Sauce)
  • Mushroom Risotto
  • Saffron or Herb Rice Pilaf
  • Prime Rib
  • London Broil
  • Roast Turkey
  • Omelets Made to Order
  • Sushi
  • Fresh Baked Goods
  • Ice Cream Sundae Bar
  • Italian & French Pastries

and so much more!

My husband said he’d have to stop eating for a day or two before we go to The Views for brunch (something we are very much planning on doing). This way his stomach is “empty” to fill up on all these great foods.

I cannot wait to go back!

There is a very good reason why this area of the restaurant is called The Views. That is because the views from the windows is spectacular.

The day we went wasn’t exactly clear (it was muggy and humid), but we were still in awe of the views from Mt. Fuji’s vantage point.

On a clear day you can see all the way down to New York City.

I took some photos from the Y Lounge, located directly above The Views, but they didn’t turn out as good as I had hoped they would. Trust me, the views from Mt. Fuji are impressive and they are something you must see in person to enjoy.

The Views also hosts special events. Take for example a Murder Mystery Dinner they are hosting a few weeks from now. That sounds like a lot of fun.

If you are interest in learning more about The View, visit TheViewsatMtFuji.com.

Overall we had THE BEST time at Mt. Fuji. We are excited about returning again and again, both with our kids as well as on “date nights.”

If you are interested in learning more about Mt. Fuji, the Y Lounge and/or The Views, visit MtFujiRestaurants.com. The one we went to is in Hillburn, NY. They also have a location in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

All of their social media links are found at the bottom of their website.

What do you think about Mt. Fuji? Do yo think it’s a place you’d love to come and experience for yourself? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

Kimberly

*I received a free meal for me and my husband in order to do this review. There was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Mt. Fuji – It’s not just dining, it’s an experience – Part One

 

PHOTO SOURCE: Mt. Fuji (Hillburn) Facebook Page

Nestled high up on a mountain side in Hillburn, New York, is an impressive site. It’s called Mt. Fuji.

Back in the early 1990’s, I used to come to the area frequently from upstate, New York. I would pass Hillburn on Route 17. I’ve seen Mt. Fuji many times, but back then I had no idea what it was. It wasn’t until I met and married my husband in the late 90’s did I find out that the huge building on the mountain side was called Mt. Fuji, and that it was a restaurant.

Over the years, I have always wanted to go to Mt. Fuji and see what it was like to be so far up on the mountain. I could only imagine the spectacular views from up there. I also wondered if you could see New York City from Mt. Fuji.

My husband went to Mt. Fuji decades ago with his family. Our son has also been to Mt. Fuji to attend a party. Our daughter went there with friends too. So I am the only person in my family who has never been to Mt. Fuji. That all changed this past weekend.

Mt. Fuji is part of a chain of restaurants owned and operated by the Fujita family.

Tokuaki “Tony” Fujita was born in Tokushima, Japan. Back then he was was more into Greco-Roman wrestling than anything else (he even competed in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics). It wasn’t until he came to the United States that his vision of becoming a restauranteur one day came to life.

Mr. & Mrs. Fujita. PHOTO SOURCE: Mt. Fuji’s website.

“Tony” and his wife Kazue (“Kay”) started out as a dishwasher and a waitress. With a lot of hard work and dedication they eventually opened their first restaurant, a luncheonette called “Mr. Fujiyama’s,” back in 1968. That luncheonette eventually led to a multi-chain of Japanese Steakhouses called, Mt. Fuji. Eventually there would be a total of nine restaurants throughout the New York Tristate area (NY, NJ, CT). Today there are two Mt. Fuji restaurants, one in Hillburn, N.Y., and the other in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.

I love to hear stories about people dedicated to their passions and who reach their dreams. I find those kinds of stories to be incredibly inspirational.

This past weekend I was given the opportunity to go to Mt. Fuji (FINALLY!) and experience it for myself. My husband came along as well.

Mt. Fuji is located at 296 Old Route 17, Hillburn, N.Y. (10931 is the zip code). It was very easy to find, even more so when you see the massive red structure greeting you at the base of their driveway and that bottom of the mountain. My picture does NOT do this structure justice. It’s MASSIVE!

Driving up the winding driveway to the top of the mountain you could get a glimpse of the beautiful scenery that surrounds the area (Ramapo Valley), as well as Route 17.

At the top of the driveway you’ll find the restaurant.

Mt. Fuji only offers valet parking. It’s free (although a tip is always appreciated). By offering valet parking only, Mt. Fuji is better able to accommodate guests. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to wanting to park in a parking spot, but an inconsiderate driver has parked crooked, taken up two parking spots or some other reason to prevent you from parking your vehicle. The valet’s at Mt. Fuji are great at their job and ensure that there is ample parking for all of their guests. They are also very fast, so you won’t have to worry about waiting on a long line to either drop off your car, or pick it up as you are leaving.

Before you enter the restaurant you’ll walk through a very beautiful garden area, complete with water. I could sit and listen to the water and enjoy the gorgeous flowers all day. I also found the garden to be very welcoming.

Inside were were happily greeted by the host and hostess of the restaurant.

Before we sat down to eat we were introduced to to the new Y Lounge that recently opened at Mt. Fuji in Hillburn.

The Y Lounge is separate from the main dining area. The Y Lounge is meant more for people to meet up with friends to enjoy the spectacular views, live music (currently Friday – Sunday, but offering it more days is in the works), drinks and the most amazing foods you can imagine.

The Y Lounge offers comfortable seating. There is even a separate room for parties and/or large groups. The private room opens up to the lounge, or it can be closed off for a more personal space.

It was in the lounge where we had the opportunity to sit down with the restaurant’s owner, Nancy Fujita. She was happy to answer all the questions me and my husband had about the restaurant and lounge.

I learned that the Hillburn location has been around since 1985. The first time I drove past it was 1987. That seems like a lifetime ago.

Most of the decor you see all around the restaurant was either imported from Japan, or created by Japanese artists and craftsman that came over from Japan.

I don’t say this often, but when you visit the restaurant, be sure to look up. Even the ceilings are beautiful to look at.

Mrs. Fujita went on to tell us about how the restaurant is all about hospitality and creating an authentic Japanese experience to the restaurant patrons. You can tell that all of the employees take pride in how well they treat their guests. My husband will agree with me when I say that every employee that we saw was friendly, smiling and happy. We’ve been to a lot of restaurants, and we’ve never seen such genuinely happy people, as far as the employees are concerned. The moment you step foot in the restaurant you feel very welcomed. That is all part of the vision they had for the restaurant.

We went on to talk about the incredible views and how beautiful they are, most especially during autumn when the leaves change color. My husband and I plan on returning to the restaurant to see that view.

The food available in the Y Lounge is by the amazing Chef Shinohara. He’s worked in many 5 star restaurants in both Japan and New York.

The ingredients to make most of the dishes offered at the Y Lounge come from Japan, as well as most of the dishes and utensils.

We had the opportunity to sample some foods available in the Y Lounge. The food available in the lounge is different than the food available in the main restaurant section. The foods available in the lounge is lighter fare, like snacks and appetizers. But don’t let my use of “snacks” make you think of chips and dips. No way! The menu items are gourmet items and not something you would find in an average lounge.

My husband and I got to try the Crispy Okaki Asparagus and the Honey Spice Burrata. There are many other mentu items (the photo is just from a small section of it).

I should note that chop sticks are readily available, but they do have traditional (American) utensils as well (forks, spoons…).

The first item was tried was the Crispy Okaki Asparagus. We love asparagus, but it’s not a vegetable that we purchase often. It was “to die for!” Oh my goodness!!! It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! The crispy “coating” on the asparagus is so flavorful. The crispiness of the coating and the perfectly cooked piece of asparagus were the perfect combination. Even the presentation was beautiful. I would never think to eat asparagus on a stick.

The other dish we tried is the Honey Spice Burrata. I have never heard of this before, but it sounded interesting.

The Honey Spice Burrata has a perfectly rounded mound of soft mozzarella, spices, sweet honey, oil that was turned into tiny “pearls” (so cool!), real gold leaf (which is edible), and edible flowers. It also comes with mouth watering garlic crostini.

MMM!!!! I could LITERALLY eat this every day! I couldn’t get enough of it. Even after we finished the crostini, I still ate this using a spoon. The next time we go back to the Y Lounge, I am definitely ordering this again.

I did see some families in the Y Lounge when we visited Mt. Fuji, but that is because it’s a lovely place to sit and relax while waiting for a table. A lot of guests also wanted to take in the incredible views.

Personally, I’d love to meet up with friends at the Y Lounge. I found it very relaxing and comfortable. The live music added to the experience. I don’t recall the name of the band that was playing the other night, but they were really good.

The Y Lounge is a great way to start off your lunch or dinner, or finish it. The Y Lounge is also a great place to meet up with friends, family and co-workers to sit, relax, chat and take in the whole Mt. Fuji experience.

This was only the first stop for us at Mt. Fuji. Since this post is already long, I am going to continue this review in another post.

If you would like to learn more about Mt. Fuji, you can visit MtFujiRestaurants.com. They can also be found on social media. Those links are found on the bottom of their website.

If you are in the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey, Conneticut – even Pennsylvania), Mt. Fuji is something to be experienced. Depending on traffic and your exact location, you can get to Mt. Fuji in Hillburn from New York City in about an hour to an hour and a half. It’s so worth the drive!

Kimberly

*I received free food/beverages while at Mt. Fuji in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.