Meal courtesy of Benihana UK
Event attended and written by @onehungryasian and published by Steph
Benihana is one of those iconic restaurants that you often see pop up in movies or cartoons, with chefs spinning spatulas, fires being lit across the table top and showmanship all around as the chefs attempt to spin bowls filled with rice. I’d always assumed it was something only to be seen in movies, until I was invited to their Chelsea branch for their birthday party to celebrate 30 years in London. And guess what? It’s as crazy and fun as it looks!
Benihana are launching a special £30 menu called Rocky’s Choice, available all of September and packed with some of their classics. It’s a brand that embraces its retro appeal and menu, and unashamedly puts the theatre of the dinner on an equal pegging with its food, if not higher! From the moment you walk into the restaurant and are greeting enthusiastically from the door staff with Japanese phrases, to sitting down at a cosy but comfortable table for 8, Benihana clearly takes its service and care seriously. There are multiple rooms available for private functions, birthdays are BIG events for the whole restaurant to get involved, and if you need it, they also have a room where your bodyguards can relax while you eat!
In true fashion with their retro theme, the £30 menu kicks off with an onion soup that’s got a slight Japanese twist to it, with spring onions, mushrooms and dried onions added at the last minute for that extra onion kick. Next up is the salad with ginger dressing, and while totally serviceable, won’t set any fires alight. But don’t worry, because next up is when your table chef will join you and introduce themselves, and quite literally, set the table on fire.
This is where the fun begins, as the chef demonstrates his skill with his spatula as he spins, balances, juggles and throws food all over the place. Nothing will land on you as a diner, don’t worry about that, and you’re encouraged to sit back and relax as the chef cooks up the rest of your meal on the teppan (grill surface). Hibachi vegetables gave the chef a chance to show off the famous onion volcano which may singe your eyebrows unless you sit back like you’re told, and keeps it plain and simple (in a good way) with some grilled vegetables.
Next up is grilled prawns which our chef took the tails off within several seconds through some flashy knife work, and then proceeded to play handball with his spatula on, before landing it in his pocket. These are accompanied by ginger and horseradish dips that I’d recommend taking full advantage of! Fried rice gets shaped into a heart and a spatula underneath to imitate it beating is a somewhat surreal but fun experience, and we’re still not finished with the meal!
Next up comes teriyaki chicken that is sweet and tender, cooked extremely well on the grill in front of you. And finally, steak is grilled and sliced into pieces in front of you, and highly encouraged to be dipped into the horseradish sauce.
Overall, Benihana is a great fun night out for anyone, and especially for any kids (though cocktails here are punchy and delicious!). You can’t beat the theatre of the whole affair, especially when the lights are dimmed and the chefs light their teppans on fire one by one. If you’re looking for something a bit different this month and for a good show, you can’t go too wrong with Benihana! The food is filling and good, but the experience is definitely not one to miss!