Fuji Steakhouse

If you were lucky enough to grow up around a great hibachi restaurant, you probably have fond memories of being mesmerized by quick knives and flying shrimp. I recently rediscovered that magic by taking my family to Fuji Steakhouse in the Rivergate shopping center off South Tryon Street. Sleek and sophisticated, you might worry Fuji isn’t the place for kids, but the staff is very friendly, and a massive aquarium is a delight for the eyes. There is a sushi bar and a section of tables for restaurant dining, as  well as a large room of U-shaped tables with hibachi grills in the middle.

The large menu features many dinner combinations and an endless list of sushi. While the hibachi prices may seem steep at first glance, dinner includes a bowl of soup, a salad and a shrimp appetizer. You choose a meat selection with vegetables, noodles and fried rice made right before your eyes.

When the chef arrived at our table, he was outrageously funny. He was as quick with his knives as he was with his smile, and the kids were enamored the moment he lit the first fire on the grill. Not only is hibachi an excellent way to introduce your children to Japanese cuisine and culture, but when broccoli is sent flying off the end of a spatula into their mouths, what better method is there for getting your children excited to eat vegetables?

We began with the spider sushi and a California roll — both very good. The kids and I chose hibachi chicken, while my husband had the steak-and-shrimp combination. Our meals were delicious, and it was endless fun watching the kids’ attempts to pick things up with their chopsticks and taste new foods. Leave your bag of books, crayons and toys at home, because this dinner comes with plenty of entertainment!

Fuji Steakhouse  14126 Rivergate Parkway
Dollar Deal: $12.95-$29.95; sushi $3.95-$13.95 Décor/Atmosphere: Classy, yet comfortable
Kids’ Menu: $7.95-$10.50
Amenities: High chairs and booster seats, but no changing station in the bathroom Got Milk/Juice: Yes Phone: 704-583-6366? Web site: www.fujicharlotte.com