I’m going to test out a restaurant review on you guys to see what you think.
Pop quiz: where in Philadelphia can you sing Korean karaoke, get bad service, and eat delicious shrimp shumai? Try Fuji Mountain on Chestnut.
I don’t know. Maybe it was the fact that there was only one bartender to wait on a private room filled with thirty people. Or maybe not enough people love karaoke yet in the City of Brotherly Love to warrant more than one songbook and remote controller. However, you would think that for a restaurant that makes a mean shumai and boasts an extensive sake list, the management would try to make the rest of the experience at least tolerable to promote repeat business.
I walked from Suburban Station on an unseasonably warm September Saturday evening, looking forward to the relief I would undoubtedly feel as I walked into the same cool air that I felt emanating from the shops and restaurants lining Chestnut Street. But, instead of my sweat drying and cooling my body, it continued running down my forehead as I entered a stale and humid sushi lounge on the first floor, and walked through soupy air up the stairs to the third floor private room, where my friend and her fiancé were holding their joint bachelor/bachelorette parties.
Karaoke pulled me through.
The pretty-boy bartender looked like he had just ended his shift, instead of starting it, with a weary and defeated air about him, presumably accentuated by the lack of air moving through the room. When I asked him for a drink menu, he curtly said, “They’re all out.” He didn’t even try to tell me verbally about their specialty cocktails, or three-page sake list, so I purposely waited twenty minutes before ordering my standard gin and tonic.
The first unfiltered sake I suggested for my friend to order was not available, so after suggesting a second kind, I turned my attention to the task at hand: karaoke. The Korean-only remote controller and instructions weren’t rocket science and we learned the ropes quickly. My biggest gripe was that they didn’t have my song, Me and Bobby McGee. I had honestly never been to a karaoke bar before that did not have Bobby McGee on the song menu.
After a few songs were sung (Ebony and Ivory, Winds of Change), the unfiltered sake still hadn’t appeared. A reminder worked, and we were pleasantly surprised at the results. I looked at the food menu and almost fainted, although the heat was doing a good job at promoting that by itself. The cheapest plate of nine-piece vegetarian sushi was $16. Everything else was $20 or more. After checking my wallet, I settled on the shrimp shumai for $8, one of a few inexpensive appetizers.
Luckily for me and my wallet, the drinks were slow to flow, and sharing the single songbook ate up the time in between waiting for them. At the end of the night, the single-tab policy caused some stress at figuring out what everyone owed, but we worked it out like the adults we were.
Since we were having so much fun being rock stars, the staff allowed to extend our use of the private room by 30 minutes, and by that time we were all so high on singing adrenaline, we had to fight over the microphones and song controller.
Overall, I’d recommend Fuji Mountain to the following people:
1. Easygoing and not likely to faint from heatstroke
2. Die-hard karaoke fans, or groupies of karaoke fans
3. Those who have a thick wallet or small appetite