I'm probably the last person in the world to have eaten at Benihana for the first time some months back. Like literally, the last person in the world probably... there are locations throughout the U.S. as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. That's alot of Benihanas! But that's not a bad thing at all.
My first time, I went to the downtown location on E. 6th Street with some coworkers for lunch. They had raved about the place so I was excited to try it. I ordered one of the lunch specialties: Spicy Hibachi Chicken, served with a salad, and veggies like green onions and mushrooms in a spicy sauce, and fried rice. First came the salad, and though I like my salads with the fatty goods like bacon and cheese and dressing and eggs, this salad was pretty good, mainly because of the dressing. The salad itself had only veggies, but that ginger dressing is what really made the salad. Without it, it would be nothing, though I've read some reviews that disagree with me and didn't like the dressing. I've seen some copycat recipes on the web... I'll need to try to make my own homemade version of that dressing cuz I dug it!
Here's my Spicy Hibachi Chicken, the lunch portion...
As you guys know, I'm definitely a sauce kinda gurl. And Benihana's two dipping sauces don't disappoint. There is a brown sauce (not sure exactly what it is), and a pale sauce which is a shrimp sauce. I like them both, but I absolutely LOVE the shrimp sauce. I could drench a plate of anything with that sauce and be set. It seriously makes the dish for me.
My coworkers were a bit disappointed because they remembered getting some complimentary shrimp appetizers along with the meal. So we all assumed they stopped doing that. Come to find out later on my next trip, that they DO still offer the shrimp apps but it is with the dinner entrees, not the lunch selections, which makes sense because you are paying a heck of alot more for the dinner portions and should therefore receive more food. But my coworkers do believe they used to serve them with the lunch selections too, so that's a bit of a disappointment, as the prices are already high and if they are cutting back on food too that's no good!
I'll admit my first experience wasn't as great as the next, because it was in a work setting and not as comfortable and lively, and we didn't get our little shrimp. And our chef wasn't animated and didn't do any cool tricks. The second time I went with family for my brother's birthday to the Springdale/Tri-County location, so it was during their dinner time rather than lunch. We had to wait for a bit as it was a weekend night, but we were content in going to the bar/waiting area which actually had tables to sit and wait at, as well as a bar to order drinks - both alcoholic and non. Though it's never fun to wait for a table, I love that they have an actual seated area, and not just a couple of seats in the lobby, or no seats at all! The quoted us a wait time of 45 minutes or so (Yikes!) but we only had to wait like half that time which was great. I have to admit that the decor looked alot better at the Springdale location also. It just felt more like a restaurant than the crowded downtown location, which is expected.
I ordered the Hibachi Lemon Chicken entree from the dinner menu, but I don't think he ever added the lemon. Oh well, I just drenched it in shrimp sauce anyhoo. I really wanted to try the scallop or filet mignon entree but I had to pay for half of my brother's meal so I had to keep it reasonable. Next time if PJ and I go for a date night, we may each try one, but it'll be a pricy meal! Like I said earlier, we did each have some shrimp appetizers, which were delicious, in that shrimp sauce of course. My entree also came with a bowl of soup, which wasn't anything special to me. It lacked flavor and just tasted like a bland broth with thinly sliced mushrooms. A little too simple for me. But no worries, because the shrimp apps, my entree, and the experience made up for it. Oh, and they do serve a hot green tea along with the dinner entree, which I didn't care for but then again I'm not a tea kinda person.
The Teppanyaki Chef played around with me and acted like he was going to chop my head off with his knife, fed me some shrimp and sauce, made smoke volcanoes out of the onion rings, and just made it fun for everyone. We even got a pic together with my brother wearing the birthday boy hat. Fun times, fun times. You can even download your pic from their website and keep it for yourself to cherish the memories.
I'll admit, the prices are a bit high. The food is probably overpriced, but it is still a fun experience, a change from the usual, and the food is pretty good. Definitely not a place we will go to often, but maybe once in a while or for a birthday. For the price, we would probably go someplace fancier though for a romantic or intimate occasion and spend just as much. But overrall, we had a nice time!
Peace, and bacon grease!