With Miami, Gibraltar and Malta under our belts so far this year, we do feel like we’ve missed out on what’s on our London doorstep. Saving has been serious and it’s left our weekdays, and most weekends, being on a fairly strict budget. It was about time we treated ourselves on our home turf and made the long awaited trip to Benihana.
The unique factor here is that their kitchen is your table and it is the original Japanese teppanyaki restaurant – although this is nothing new. They’ve had restaurants in London and across the globe for over 50 years and to our amazement, our chef who was not only cooking but entertaining for us throughout our visit, has been working in their Piccadilly restaurant for 30 of those years.
Hibachi sirloin steak – aged sirloin steak with mushrooms: £32.50
With Benihana opening up their first restaurant in NYC, the showmanship of the chefs rivalled the drama of Broadway as they sung and danced their way through the cooking for those directly in front of them. Back in London, Tom was staying true to the traditions by giving us renditions of ‘My Girl,’ ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ and joking that his wife was in the food recycling bin under the hibachi grill! He made it the one of a kind experience it was.
Starting in America and bringing Japanese food to the mainstream restaurant scene, Benihana is to thank for making sushi and soy sauce available all over the globe. Quality has always been the key ingredient in every dish that is served up – something that is easily diluted when you go from an independent to global chain. However, this is certainly not the case with Benihana but is very much reflected in the menu prices. Most main dishes were pushing or slightly above £35, cocktails £10-£15 and small sushi plates almost £10 too.
Sake salmon nigiri: £8; Akami tuna nigiri: £8; Spicy edamame served with lemon garlic chilli sauce: £4.50
The good news is that both traditional dinners of Hibachi Sirloin Steak and Seafood Diablo was dished up alongside onion soup, hibachi vegetables, steamed rice, prawn and salad with ginger dressing. Both, as I’m sure you can guess were packed with flavour left the mouth watering and begging for more. The fish and meats were delectably tender, heightened by the chilli spices and vegetables and washed down expertly by the waiter’s recommendation of the Old Fashioned and Gin Spritz cocktails.
Seafood Diablo – prawns, scallops, calamari, noodles and assorted vegetable mix with Benihana spicy sauce: £27
So for sure, the food was great but of a standard which you’d expect from any restaurant which demands such prices. What you don’t expect though is to be able to witness up close and personal the mastery of the incredible chefs who carry out their work under the close amazement and scrutiny of those eating their food.
Many thanks to all at Benihana who looked after us so well.