Fire extinguishers? Are those really fire extinguishers? Really? Yes, those are fire extinguishers next to each of the tables at this utterly delightful Japanese restaurant located about two hours north of Boston in one of New England's most "foodie" cities. Indeed, the tables do get quite hot in the hibachi room at Portland's Fuji Restaurant, but the chefs here are certainly too skilled to let any of the flames get out of control, and likewise the food is definitely too good not to make the trip to this restaurant. Curious? Read on....
Fuji Restaurant is really several dining spots wrapped up into one appealing package. Upstairs, there is a sushi bar and a traditional tatami room. Downstairs, however, is where things get really interesting. For those of you who haven't eaten at a hibachi table (and there are only a couple of hibachi rooms in Boston), the chefs prepare your food at the table, which has a metal cooking surface in the middle. Fuji's chefs are particularly impressive, as they fling utensils into the air with much grace, toss pieces of food into people's mouths (with their approval!), and mix foods so quickly that their hands become a blur. The food itself is outstanding; the rice, noodles, and meat dishes, all of which are prepared on the hibachi, are satisfying and filling.
Fuji is a terrific Japanese restaurant in a terrific city. Portland has the hilly, fog-shrouded neighborhoods and bohemian subculture vaguely reminiscent of San Francisco, and clearly has nothing to rival it on the east coast. Fuji fits in well here; where else can you dine at a table with six-foot flames coming off of it, then hit nearby shops to buy everything from used books on ancient Greece to scraggly little hemp bracelets to Vietnamese bubble tea? Both Portland and Fuji may be a bit of an eye-opener for some, but if you want to experience an evening to remember, go down to the Old Port District to enjoy the culinary experience of this restaurant. Just remember: Head downstairs if you want a hibachi table, and don't worry about those fire extinguishers.
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