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!


*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. 

Outback’s Wood-Fire Grill meal is a 3-course meal for $11.99 #OutbackBestMates


WFG_cover_040214 copy

T.G.I.F! It’s almost officially the weekend. I’m sure many readers will be heading out with their friends and family tonight or this weekend to do fun things and grab a bite to eat, or maybe a few cocktails. If you need a little help on deciding where to go you should certainly check out Outback. Outback has a special promotion going on right now where you can get a wood-fire grilled 3-course meal for only $11.99.

For your first course you can start off with your choice of soup or a signature side salad.

The second choice gives you several yummy options to choose from;

  • Parmesan-Herb Crusted Wood-Fire Grilled Chicken (I want to try this!)
  • Wood-Fire Grilled Outback Special Sirloin
  • Sweet Chili Wood-Fire Grilled Chicken & Shrimp

Your third course is a dessert. You have a choice of either the classic cheesecake (I’ve had it before – it’s delish!) or Carrot Cake.

All of this for only $11.99!

Firecracker_Salmon copy

Outback has even more wood-fire grilled dinners you can enjoy (they are not a part of the $11.99 promotion).

  • Firecracker Grilled Salmon: Wood-fire grilled Salmon glazed with Firecracker sauce and topped with mango salsa. Served with season mixed vegetables. It’s pictured above.
  • Bone-in NY Strip: Known for its juicy, intense flavor, the thick-cut NY Strip is grilled to perfection. Served with one freshly made side and a Signature Side salad.

You can enjoy even enjoy the fire-grilled flavor at home with Outback’s curbside take-away service. Simply order your meal online then head out to your local Outback restaurant to pick it up.

If cocktails are what you had in mind you might want to check out the very tropical sounding Grilled Pineapple ‘Rite at Outback. The Grilled Pineapple ‘Rite is made with smooth El Jimador Resposado Tequila and is hand-shaken with all-natural citrus juices and crushed pineapple. They even rim the glass with their very own hickory smoke margarita salt and they top it off with a wood-grilled slice of pineapple. Yummy! Even the hickory smoked margarita salt sounds good.

To find an Outback restaurant near you visit Outback.com. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even Instagram.

To keep up to date on current Outback specials be sure to bookmark www.Outback.com/Specials.

What do you think about the wood-fired meals? Do you have a favorite? If you happen to head out to Outback this weekend and try any of these I would love to hear about them. Feel free to comment and tell me all about it.

WFG Pineapple Rita  Mango Passion Rita cmyk copy


*I am a brand ambassador for Outback. Although compensated the opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.


Red Lobster Seafood Dinner for Two for only $25! Limited Time Offer (Giveaway ends 5/20/13


Seafood Lover's Linguini

Seafood Lover’s Linguini

I love seafood. I don’t think there is a seafood I won’t eat, except eel and raw oysters. Eels scare me and raw oysters just look gross and slimy. 🙂

When I have the opportunity to eat out at a restaurant I always make sure to check out the seafood menu first and foremost. I’m more likely to order a seafood dish more than anything else.

I’m sure it goes without saying that Red Lobster is one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a seafood lovers dream restaurant. Seafood is Red Lobster’s specialty. They also offer steak, chicken and pork meals for those who don’t enjoy seafood (like my husband – he’ll only eat canned Tuna :-)).

Going out to dinner can often cost a lot of money. When you live on a tight budget it’s important to keep up to date on money saving options, especially when it comes to eating out.

Red Lobster has a fabulous offer that is taking place right now. They have a Seafood Dinner for Two for only $25.00*! Best of all they are offering non-seafood dishes as part of this offer so that anyone can enjoy the special two dinners for $25.00 offer.

*Offers available at all Red Lobster locations in the U.S. only. Prices higher in Times Square and Hawaii.

Honey Garlic Crispy Shrimp

Honey Garlic Crispy Shrimp

HURRY! The special 2 for $25 special ends on May 26, 2013!

The special menu created for this offer starts you off with a fresh, crispy salad and unlimited Cheddar Bay Biscuits (my family is crazy about their biscuits!). For the main entree guests can pick their favorite chef inspired entrées.

There are two new entrées that have been added to the menu.

NEW! Honey-Garlic Crispy Shrimp – Hand-battered shrimp fried to a golden brown, drizzled with a honey-garlic glaze and topped with green onions. Served over cilantro rice tossed with broccoli.

NEW! Seafood Lover’s Linguini – Tender shrimp, bay scallops, mussels, roasted tomatoes and green onions in a white wine and lemon-garlic sauce over linguini.

Mmm!!! They both sound so good. I think I might try the Honey-Garlic Shrimp.

To round out your meal you get a choice of appetizer OR dessert. I think I would op for dessert because they have a new Pineapple Upside Down Cake that I can’t wait to try. I haven’t had Pineapple Upside Down Cake in years and it’s one of my favorite cakes.

For more information or to locate a Red Lobster near you visit RedLobster.com. You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Red Lobster New Logo

To help you take advantage of this great offer (or enjoy the Red Lobster experience) I have a $30 gift card to give away to a lucky reader.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end promptly on May 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be contacted via e-mail and will have three days to respond or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me what your favorite thing to order from Red Lobster is – or – if you have never been to Red Lobster before, which of the two new entries would you like to try?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. Any opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way.

New Griddle Melts at IHOP – It’s hard to pick just one #GriddleMelts


IHOP Griddle Melts

Last night my husband, daughter and myself went to IHOP for dinner (my son opted to stay home). I have not been to IHOP in probably 20 years. My husband couldn’t remember the last time he was at one. They recently opened up two IHOP locally so it was nice to FINALLY go to an IHOP again. I’m surprised it took so long for them to make it into our area.

My daughter went to the other IHOP we have here last weekend and is already a fan. I have a feeling we’ll be eating at IHOP more often now. Aside from the diner where else can you get delicious breakfast foods any time of the day? Of course IHOP has lunch and dinner menu items too.

One of the things I really wanted to try on the menu is their new Griddle Melts. They all looked and sounded so good. It was hard for me to pick just one.

 IHOP Menu

Spinach, Roasted Pepper & Cheese – Sautéed spinach in a fluffy egg omelet topped with roasted red peppers, onions, melted Provolone, Parmesan and Pepper Jack cheeses on grilled artisan sourdough bread.

Western – Smoked ham and sautéed peppers and onions in a classic omelet, topped with sliced ham, melted American cheese and served on grilled artisan sourdough bread.

Ham & Egg Melt – Sliced ham and melted Swiss and American cheeses over a fluffy egg omelet served on grilled artisan sourdough bread.

Griddle Melts are available as half sandwiches ($4.99) or full sandwich ($7.99). Each one is available with your choice of hash browns, French fries or seasonal fruit.

It was a tough decision because honestly I wanted to try them all, but I ended up ordering a full size sandwich in the Spinach, Roasted Pepper & Cheese with a side of French fries.

I was hoping I could talk my daughter and/or husband into trying the other two varieties so I could try a bite (or two!) of each, but they opted for other meals (hubby ordered waffles and chicken and my daughter ordered a cheeseburger).

While we were waiting for our meal to arrive we enjoyed a yummy fresh salad. Mmm… I salads!

IHOP Salad

The sandwich was A LOT bigger then I expected it would be, which is a good thing (of course!). Look at how yummy it is!

IHOP Griddle Melt

IHOP Griddle Melts

Spinach, Roasted Pepper and Cheese Griddle Melt

If you love roasted peppers you’ll love this sandwich. That is the flavor that stood out first and foremost, followed by the spinach and creamy cheese. And the bread! Oh! The bread was grilled to perfection. I’m drooling just thinking about the sandwich.

I ordered the full size thinking that half a sandwich wouldn’t be enough for dinner. I was wrong. A half a sandwich would have been more then enough because it’s a big, hearty sandwich. I had a salad prior to my sandwich. The salad, half sandwich and fries made for a satisfying meal.

The other half didn’t go to waste. I took it home with me to give it to my son.

IHOP Griddle Melt Half

Now I have to go back to IHOP to try the other two flavors.

If you are looking for a delicious, hearty meal for lunch or dinner look no further the the new Griddle Melts available at an IHOP near you.

If you would like to learn more about Griddle Melts, or find an IHOP near you, visit www.IHOP.com. You can also check out IHOP on Facebook and Twitter.



*A gift card was donated to me by IHOP for my participation in this trial program. These items are not intended as payment for any favorable opinions.  The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way.