WATERVILLE — The chef spins an egg on the grill, flips it into the air with a spatula and catches it in his hat.

“Yummy, yummy egg!” he exclaims, as he cracks it, scraping yolk and white across the hot grill.

Patrons watch, wide-eyed, as he quickly and deftly tosses noodles, shrimp, vegetables, filet mignon and other fare onto the grill, swishing them around until cooked. He scoops them up and drops them onto their plates.

And then — watch out — he’ll tell you to open wide as he squirts sake, an alcoholic Japanese drink, directly into your mouth. If you’re an adult, that is.

Expect to hear lots of squeals and laughter if you dine at Mirakuya Steak House at JFK Plaza off Kennedy Memorial Drive.

Sunny Li and her partners chose Waterville to open the restaurant because they knew they would face little competition with their performance style of cooking.

“Mirakuya” means “tasty” in Japanese, according to Li. Whether you want to dine hibachi-style or prefer to be served at your table in a more traditional setting, you are guaranteed tasty, healthful food, she said.

“Most people come here for hibachi, but we have sushi in a regular dining area. We have a lot of dishes, fried rice and sauté, and you can order American food, filet mignon,” she said. “We have everything. You name it — live scallop, live oyster, sea urchin. A lot of people come here for sea urchin.”

Sushi, or vinegary rice served with food such as raw fish or other seafood, is popular at the restaurant, according to Li. Contrary to what many people think, sushi is more than just raw fish, she said.

“It can be 80 percent cooked,” she said. “People can have sushi roll. A bagel roll is very American-style. It is a deep-fried roll with eel, smoked salmon, cream cheese and scallion. It’s really popular. Most of the sushi rolls are cooked but not heavy.”

The fare is always fresh, she said, and good for you.

Patrons entering the restaurant are greeted by water cascading down a lighted wall; a full cocktail bar whose front panels change color also is available for people waiting to eat.

Li, 28, runs the business with Elin Lin and two others. Li grew up in China. When she was 19, she moved to New York City and worked at her uncle’s restaurant, she said. She owns another restaurant in Pennsylvania.

She came to Maine from New York City two years ago for vacation and fell in love with the state, she said.

“You can ski and it’s nice to raise your kids here. Every day you see different people; it’s not boring. You are also chatting with people, and families. We have a lot of regular customers.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]

 

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