I heard this one saying back when I was studying Japanese during my high school years that Japanese cuisine stood out among Asian cuisines for it was pleasing to the eye. While you would say that most food would fill the stomach, the intricate details of garnishes and plating that Japanese food bring would be a feast to the eyes. Servings are good for one, but the presentation makes up the experience.
Of course this is not to say that Japanese cuisine can’t come in large serving plates and bowls to share between people. I love going to restaurants where servings are too big for one person to eat. I feel the experience of eating it out is so much more enjoyable when you can share a plate of food and try new flavours.
Therefore, when I took a trip up to Sydney’s North Shore and into this little Japanese restaurant, I thought I would be dining into a three-course meal of what I had once pictured back in high school. But things were different in Fujiyama. Rather, it was what I was hoping. It was one of my favourite cuisines and my favourite dining experience in one.
I haven’t dined in many Japanese restaurants before, but going up to Chatswood, I discovered Japanese restaurant after Japanese restaurant. Fujiyama had a deal with Groupon Australia where four people could dine in and share a three-course meal, accompanied by a glass of wine each or two bottles of Sake (Japanese alcohol), all for $75. And so, I brought along my parents and my uncle to share this experience with me.
Fujiyama isn’t just dining in and ordering from the menu. If you want to see your food being cooked on the spot, watch the chef create large flames and you want to try to catch food in your mouth, you can always try the teppanyaki area in the restaurant. Otherwise, Fujiyama allows you to dine in a beautiful area of red, black and brown with wall designs that resemble the paper sliding doors of Japanese houses.
Our Groupon voucher allowed us two entrées, four mains with a bowl of rice each and dessert. With the menu set down in front of me, I knew what I wanted for an entrée. ” いただきます!” I should have said before I ate, but I forgot.
The first was Takoyaki, otherwise known as octopus dumpling balls. It was beautifully golden brown and crispy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside with a slight tangy flavour. Takoyaki is usually brushed with a takoyaki sauce and topped with mayonnaise. Other toppings then vary, and with this particular dish, we had grilled cheese on top. Takoyaki would probably be one of my favourite Japanese dishes and so I’m glad we chose this particular entrée.
The second entrée we decided on were Spring Rolls. It was something simple, familiar and something we knew we would eat. The spring rolls were nicely filled with vegetables and was crispy, but I felt it was a bit too simple, especially in comparison to the great standard of their other dishes. Nevertheless, I happily enjoyed the spring roll and I knew if I brought along someone who is very fussy with food and is comfortable eating something they’re familiar with (*ahem, my sister), they would definitely enjoy these.
One thing I was surprised with was when our food was brought out all at once. I’m not sure why that was the case, but I would have preferred to have separate entrée and mains. The reason I like it that way is because I can build up the suspense on what I’m going to be expecting from the rest of the food. If I enjoy the entrée, I become excited as to what the main meal would bring. It wasn’t too big of an issue (especially growing up in an Asian family where combining entrées and mains was never questionable), but it was a bit overwhelming. As you can see from the pictures, you know why.
The servings were huge. Enormous. They were so large we had to figure out how to fit all the food on the table. Each main is separated into the types of meat used, so we decided to choose one from chicken, beef, pork and seafood.
This particular dish was the Hot Pot Fish with Pickle. It had pieces of filleted fish in a spicy chilly broth filled with green onions, pickles and chilli. It’s not overly spicy, but it has just enough to make you sweat after a few pieces of fish and a sip of the broth. This was also one of my favourite dishes of the night. The fish was cooked perfectly. It wasn’t dry and it just broke down nicely when cut. There was plenty of fish as well to share, even for more than four people.
Ahhh, Kung Pao Chicken, you and I finally meet. Now I can see how you got such a name. This particular dish was so spicy, I think I started crying. I know Kung Pao Chicken isn’t a traditional Japanese dish, but it was interesting to try this dish and finally learn of it.
Setting aside my inability to work around the spiciness, the chicken was nicely cooked and I liked the combination of chicken and peanuts. I’m normally used to cashews in a lot of dishes, but the peanuts surprisingly worked well. I’m not sure what other ingredients were used in here, especially since the sauce was quite dark, but I sense there is a lot of chilli. My sinuses were clear after one spoonful though!
Moving onto our beef dish, we decided on the Hot Pot Beef, with thin slices of beef sitting in a chilli broth of green onions. This dish was quite similar to the fish hot pot, but I think there was cabbage in the broth. This dish was also not too spicy, although I felt it was a little more spicy than the fish.
Seeing as the servings were quite large, you might think that there is a lot of broth which is what makes it look generous. However, the restaurant really is quite generous with their servings. There are plenty of slices of beef to go around. I would definitely suggest the hot pot dishes if you want large servings, especially with groups of people.
Our last main dish was the Peking Style BBQ Pork Belly. It may be a smaller dish compared to the others, but it has the same huge punch of flavour. This is not at all chilli, but rather resembles flavours of sweet, salty and soy with generous amounts of coriander to balance the flavour. This was the dish that I turned to when I needed a break from eating all that chilli. It was a lovely dish to have to eat with rice and is perfect for anyone who is not a fan of anything spicy. The pork dish would probably be another one of my favourites of the night.
Dessert is none other than Deep Fried Ice Cream. Each person gets their own serving of ice cream (I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if I had to share the dessert!), along with a topping of their choosing from chocolate, caramel and strawberry.
Chocolate and caramel are always the choices of my family and I, but there’s always a war in my head when I have to decide between the two. I usually settle with caramel because I want something just that bit sweeter, and I absolutely love topping ice cream off with caramel. Caramel and ice cream just goes together so well.
I. LOVE. DEEP. FRIED. ICE. CREAM. I love the crunchy, golden batter on the outside and the soft, creamy centre. I love the sweetness of the topping mixed with the slight coconut flavour of the ice cream crumb. Fujiyama’s deep fried ice cream wasn’t too overpowering in coconut (sometimes I like it better when it’s not too much like coconut) and it had the right amount of softness to the ice cream. It wasn’t too frozen, but it wasn’t too melted either. Oh, just the thought of deep fried ice cream as I write this post is making my mouth water and making me crave for more.
As you can see, there are a few teppanyaki spots set up, and while we were dining in, we were able to see a few teppanyaki tricks in action. My camera just wasn’t fast enough to take a decent shot.
I also wasn’t able to get a picture of the Sake, but I did try a little bit and I found it very difficult to get past a sip. I’m not used to alcoholic beverages but from what I tasted, it was slightly bitter, yet had a faint sweet smell of rice vinegar. The after taste is very strong and I had to skull a glass of water because I couldn’t handle it. Then again, I might have only felt like this because I don’t drink alcohol.
I enjoyed my time at Fujiyama and if I were ever to take a trip back to Chatswood, I think I would definitely take the time to visit again. I’d have a plate of takoyaki, and a bowl of rice and peking style pork for my main, along with maybe a few fried ice creams. This is definitely the place to go if you’re looking for large servings, but hearty and satisfying flavours.
Fujiyama Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant
Level 1/77 Archer street
ps. I would like to thank Groupon Australia for giving me the opportunity to expand my love for food journalism by collaborating with me and giving me the chance to write this review for them. It is such an honour to be given this chance and it helps reassure me of my love for food and journalism, which is why this post is so important to me. If you love eating out and want further discounts, check out the Groupon Australia website. They also have other great services too at discounted prices!