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The Eatbeat: 'More sake, more happy' at Fuji

First, he juggles an egg on top of the big flat grill. He fries it, chops it, mixes it into a pile of rice. He brings out vegetables and meat.

"My favorite rice — I love it," said one of three chefs working away in Fuji Japanese restaurant on a recent Friday evening.

It was a 14th birthday celebration for Caitlin MacKenzie, and all of her family were gathered around. The chef at one of three hibachi tables was skillfully presiding.

He was frying, chopping and mixing a pile of rice. Although it was water he squirted on the flames, he said, "More sake, more happy."

He served shrimp all the way around. Then fish. Then steak. Broccoli and carrots were tossed into the mix.

The food smelled good. The show was great.

The large Fuji restaurant on South Washington Street has become a favorite place for parties and family gatherings. While they tend to take place on weekends, the restaurant has a steady following at the sushi bar. There, Victor Meza and Britta Hanson were enjoying sushi for two the other night.

They say Chef Kevin is one of the best in town, and he keeps bringing them back every couple of weeks. She especially likes the angel roll — made with spicy tuna, shrimp tempura and mango inside with crab salad on top. Then drizzled with honey miso.

They say he is a great conversationalist.

Fuji is large. The restaurant dining area is pleasant with booths and tables. It is tastefully decorated with soft lighting from hanging lamps. There is a large, attractive entry room.

Three servers wearing black were on duty on a recent Friday evening. They told me they were Chinese, not Japanese. They recommended the King Crab Crunch Roll ($13.95) which is popular with guests in the dining room. It is made with crabmeat, white tuna and salmon and served with a spicy mayonnaise. I found it just right for a light meal.

They brought my tea in a small black pot with a nice little cup. It was rather quiet in the restaurant area, but there was a steady stream of customers in and out. At lunch time, there seems to be more regular customers eating in the café dining area. And Fuji has lunch specials including rolls served with miso soup at the sushi bar and hibachi from the kitchen. There are lunch box teriyaki choices served with miso soup, fried rice, spring roll and California roll ranging from $6.95 to $9.95.

I finished my Friday evening visit to Fuji with green tea ice cream.

Fuji Japanese Seafood & Steakhouse

715 S. Washington St.

Telephone: (701) 757-3855

Hours: 11 a.m. daily to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Report card: One of the few Japanese restaurants around Grand Forks, Fuji draws lunch customers and larger groups, especially on weekends. Hibachi chefs rate an A as they provide entertainment with meals for groups gathered around their tables. Sushi bar has a steady following.