Planning a long-awaited family trip to New York City gave me a lot to look forward to. Upon inadvertently finding a Japanese bookstore near the hotel, my mom suggested I look for “Japanese tea houses” nearby. I assumed she meant restaurants so I looked around and found a few choices, and everyone seemed to prefer a hibachi restaurant I found.
Fuji Hibachi, located at 321 West 42nd Street, seemed like a little hole-in-the-wall place as one would expect in a big city. It wasn’t particularly difficult to find since we were only a block or so away. Stepping inside the narrow space, we found it dimly lit (though that could’ve been due to the “lateness” or the day) with the hibachi countertop glowing. A waitress took our drink orders within minutes of being seated, and a few minutes later a second waitress came back to ask if we had ordered drinks yet. The drinks were served in mason jar-like glasses with handles, something I’ve rarely seen but didn’t find too unusual.
The menu selection was fairly typical of most hibachi restaurants, though the meal prices were upwards of $20 which is a bit pricier than I’ve experienced. I ordered the hibachi chicken and shrimp, priced at $22.95 but seemed worth every penny. The hibachi dishes were offered with a choice between fried rice or noodles as a side. I asked for white rice instead of rice, though they didn’t bring it to me until the chef finished cooking our food (though this may have been their intent). Our waitress offered us a choice between salad and miso soup with our meals, though the menu only offered salad (two of us opted for the soup).
It took maybe a little more than five minutes for our soups and salads to be brought out. The soup tasted a tad more beefy than I’ve had at other restaurants, but it was very delicious. Being the perpetual odd duck out, I was the only one in our four-person party who didn’t order water to drink, and everyone’s water was refilled with no prompting on our parts. In most every hibachi restaurant I’ve been to, forks were placed at each seat but there was always a pair of chopsticks alongside them. I noticed some chopsticks placed on the non-grill top tables, but I had to ask for a pair for myself.
This hasn’t happened to me every time, but once in a while the chef at your table likes to have fun with you. They always put a show with the way they flip the spatulas and light the grill on fire, but sometimes they’ll interact with you and joke around. Our chef tossed us pieces of broccoli to try and catch in our mouths (only two of us actually caught them). He added some garlic to the food while he was cooking, which was an interesting touch. It certainly stood out in the flavoring, but didn’t overpower the food itself.
Really, my only negative critique for this restaurant was that they never refilled my soda (and I made a point not to ask them), even though they frequently walked by and seemed to check on our progress. If you’re in New York City and you don’t mind spending a little extra coin, I do recommend this restaurant.