I dare you to eat here and not grin from ear-to-ear, but try not to have prawns in your teeth when you do!
There are more than one Benihana restaurants in London, but I have often been to the one on Sackville Street (very close to the Piccadilly Circus underground station). It is a Japanese restaurant that offers everything you need for a memorable night out with your loved ones. The bar is on the left as you enter the busy restaurant – this is generally where the fun starts. You’re only briefly disappointed when the host tells you to wait until your table has been set. Why? Because the barman soon distracts you with an array of drinks that is efficiently served; Because you’re too busy entertaining the thought that there might be time for another! There is also the great décor and the friendly staff, sure. But most important of all is the chef that puts on a knife-wielding, shrimp-tossing, sizzling show for you as you eat.
Before the show commences you are given a menu that often confuses newcomers. The classic menu at Benihana offers set meals that consist of the starter, the main, and some salad. You must pick the main – generally a meat or fish (or both) option – and decide on your preference of what is included. If you’re still confused there is a PDF file of the menu available on their website so you have plenty of time to study and appear like a Benihana expert!
Once you have made your order, the chef emerges and he introduces himself to the group of people that are sat around a single table. If your group isn’t very big, be prepared to giggle and laugh with strangers. In between the inevitable oohs’ and aahs’, your meal is tossed around, prepared and served with precision. The chef also serves up some humorous banter as you try to chew and laugh simultaneously without spewing out chunks of your steak (don’t worry, that part is free). I would totally recommend coming here on birthdays because the chef always has a special surprise for birthday celebrants. Make sure you sneak off and point out the celebrant to the host (the person who showed you to your seats) before the show begins. Because who doesn’t want to be surprised and embarrassed on their special day?
Things to consider:
> With set menu meals from £32.50, this isn’t the place to go if you’re on a tight budget!
> Make sure you don’t wrap up too much – the heat from the cooker is enough to make you sweat because it is directly in front of you. You are perfectly safe, however. Well, as long as you’re not the kind of person that is often tempted to touch hot surfaces.
> Although each chef is to be commended for their skill and their ability to perform under pressure; I have been to Benihana and noticed that the chef that served us one night wasn’t as skilled as the other chefs I witnessed on previous visits. To have the best Benihana experience you simply must hope that your chef is not sub par compared to his fellow chefs.
I would give Benihana a 4* rating; probably even a 4.5* rating because entertainment, enjoyment and great food is pretty much guaranteed!