I read another review and choose not to come here but I was wrong. I tried the other place Matsuri St James, which was not very good and no where to Benihana. Very good service and really , really tasty food. Best food I have had in London.
I have been to several restaurants, where you can eat Teppanyaki and this one is a good place to go.
Service: very good
Cook: very entertaining and skilled
It is not the best of the best (like the Sazanka in Amsterdam), but still very, very good.
I will happily be their guest next time around.
Very MEDIOCRE. I was excited to go to Benihana for a birthday party because I'd heard it was great and have been to a similar restaurant which also has chefs who cook at the table and entertain. I was very disappointed then with the extremely average food (nothing particularly yummy) and the boring way the chef prepared the food. I have been to just one other place like this in a tiny town in upstate NY, and it was miles beyond this place. This chef just did a volcano and didn't seem to even be paying attention to all the people watching him. (The other one I went to amazed us with his chopping and flipping skills and squirted drinks into everyones mouths)
Benihana is also very overpriced for what you get. Do not go, please avoid! You can spend your hard-earned money somewhere else much more fun and with better food.
I've brought a few friends to Benihana as it's the closest teppanyaki to the West End. Unfortunately, as noted by the dynamic husband and wife Yelping team of Larissa D & Robert D, Benihana has failed to deliver many more times than it did.
The entertainment value of the chef is the main reason people pay to come to such places and at Benihana, they seem to rely a lot more on the patter than practising hard to perfect those familiar moves - the egg cracking on the spatula, the onion volcano, the juggling to name a few. As the chefs are exclusively male in my experience, the patter also has a very male orientated bias to it, which can leave the female guests around the table feeling rather left out.
To compound the lack of flair and entertaining moves, they have a tendency to overcook the food. I've had to request that my chicken be removed off the hot plate quite a few times as I watched it being dessicated from prolonged cooking. They always ask how you would like your steak cooked and I don't think medium rare is in their vocabulary. I'm not as forthright as an American diner on my last visit, who had a standup row over her steak which was definitely not medium rare as requested.
The sushi and sashimi is reasonable but expensive. They do run some specials which reduces the price but I usually leave feeling that I've not got full VFM.
I originally come from Orlando, Florida, a city of no fewer than 50 Japanese hibachi grill/teppenyaki restaurants. A celebratory visit to one of these restaurants with friends is, literally, a cultural phenomena, and I guess you could call me a hibachi grill restaurant aficionado.
The concept is simple and will be the same no matter which hibachi grill restaurant you visit. Eight people sit around a sizzling hot grill and order food. A chef arrives, cooks. The people eat. Add to that some comedy, some stock chef tricks and the consumption of alcohol and you've got a recipe for a great night out.
Sadly, it's not quite as easy as that, as the level of your enjoyment is directly related to the ability and enthusiasm of your chef. I've been to this Benihana location twice over the course of two years, and both times my experience has been simply average and generally not worth the inflated London price.
I always expect to see a couple of things from my vantage point at the hibachi grill. These range from the onion volcano, the always-comedic tossing of cooked food into another diner's mouth (points detracted if you are the unlucky sap at the table selected to catch the food), general utensil flipping skills, and the arrangement of fried rice in some sort of recognizable/cutesy shape.
Last night, I saw none of the above things. Instead, our chef spent the food preparation time cracking football jokes and taking the piss out of diners for the teams they supported and proceeded to sing Arsenal chants for the meal's entirety.
And note that it's always highly suspect when your chef isn't actually Japanese or even of an Asian persuasion.
Ultimately, for the price you pay for a meal, it's quite a gamble going to this particular Benihana location, as you're not guaranteed to have one of the good chefs, who inevitably is cooking at the table next to yours instead.
But even if you get a not-so-theatrical chef, the act of watching your (good quality) food being prepared in front of you offers an unusual and generally enjoyable dining experience, even if the complementary components of the meal were generally forgettable.
This is the first time that I have had teppanyaki in the UK. It was a good experience, although it was a little overpriced.
You go to a teppanyaki restaurant for the entertainment from the chef. He did a few cool things which were nice touches: I liked the volcano made of stacked, sliced onions. He also did some impromptu karaoke, which was lame, but funny.
With teppanyaki, you often need to wait until the table around the hot plate is full before you start the dinner. This is the case here, but as it was a busy night we didn't have to wait too long.
We had Rocky's Choice for £36 and Hibachi Steak for £28.50. These are set menus which come with a salad, vegetables, a miso soup and rice. I thought that it wasn't as tasty as back home in New Zealand (I miss the "yum yum" sauce!) but it was still good. The chef spilled some water on my meal during his tricks, but I'll forgive him this.
A bit of Teppanyaki theatre to tickle the taste buds.
I've only been twice and both times I had the set menu which is £23.00 a head. You get to chose the meat/fish you'd like to be cooked before your eyes and it comes with various vegetables and few other side dishes. Not bad value. If you're not big on group interaction then this isn't the type of dining for you, as you sit at a cooking pod with other diners (8 per pod). The chefs are skilled and do fun tricks but the banter is a little cheesy. Service in general is good. The only down point is the decor is rather dated and the ladies loos are horrid. Benihana is a chain so others may be better...
Would consider coming here with a group of friends to take up one of the cooking pods.
This is the first time that I had experienced Tepankaki, so I never had anything to compare it to. I had a great time, we had a really nice group of people on the table, and the chef was pretty entertaining. The food was delicious, I just thought it was slightly over priced for what it was.
Never the less, if you are looking for a fun evening out then you may want to consider coming here :)
I first went to a Benihana restaurant in Toronto and left feeling very happy and sated. it was a marvellous and fun dining experience. So when I found out there was one in London I jumped at the chance.
As other reviewers have pointed out this is a Teppanyaki restaurant (this being Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food for the lay man). You will usually sit six to eight (sometimes more) people around a central grill (there are several of these grills with similar seating arrangements all around the restaurant) and the chef will take your order and cook the food in front of you. There is some entertainment value to this type of experience and I think I would definitely consider this a first of second date place - if you want to show 1) you like food and 2) you are a fun kinda person.
Overall I thought that the food was good and that this place had a nice atmosphere and that the staff were good. It was not as nice as the one in Toronto but given that is a 7 hour flight to Toronto and that my oyster card doesn't quite extend that far this place will have to do.
When I was small, the treat ne plus ultra for my family involved a trip to Port Solent cinema and then to the Char Bar where you could whisper it cook your OWN FOOD. Never mind that we could quite easily have done this at home instead of leaving it all to my poor mum, this was properly being a grown-up.
So Benihana must be even more grown-up because you have someone doing the cooking for you, but you can WATCH THEM (no, it's actually just like mum again).
And bless it, it's incredibly 90s. The food was...fine. The chef cooking it was...a bit mortifying actually. Incredibly dated, but fine if you like that sort of thing, but really - it's no Char Bar.
I can highly recommend Benihana in Piccadilly. It ticks every box for a great, fun and delicious dinner out, whether you're in a group or on a first date.
The staff are extremely friendly and attentive, without being too much. We were greeted by our chef - great guy called Francis and he was very good at his job...keeping the diners entertained, knowing what we all had ordered, showing off his culinery skills and finally getting the delicious food to our plates in spot on time.
The only tiny point which doesn't really need much of a comment was the rather squeaky/wonky chair I had. But saying this, I soon forgot that it was wonky once the food was being prepared so skillfully and upon tasting it - Delicious!!.....Did I say 'wonky chair?' What wonky chair?
I'll be going back and should make more of an evening of it I hope, as my company and I were dashing off to the theatre.
Thanks Benihana - Superb!!
Anyone remember Select magazine? I was a fan. They had an issue dedicated to romance once, and Mike D of the Beastie Boys wrote an article for it, giving some suggestions on how a young man might make a good job of taking a young woman on a date.
In terms of the issue of choosing a venue for a date, Mike D extolled the virtues of restaurants with booths, as he felt that they encouraged intimacy. He also advised that the young man should take the young woman somewhere where they cook the food in front of you. His words were something like 'you might argue that this will give you a reason not to have to make painful small talk...AU CONTRAIRE...it will give you SOMETHING to talk about'.
His final gem was a recommendation that you should bring a folding bicycle with you on the date, so that on the way home you could push the cycle beside you as you walked your date home, which might create an air of intimacy. Intimacy clearly being the key here. I didn't quite get that one.
Anyway, Mike D's advice had a profund effect on me and when I met a young woman who I felt I needed to make a big impression on at our first date, I took her to Benihana.
Three years after that first date, I took her there again and proposed to her. But that's another story.
I've been recommending this for a while on Twitter for anyone celebrating a special occasion. The cocktails are delicious (especially the ones including japanese sake) and the staff are always friendly. The best thing though is when you sit down at the table.
If you've never eaten teppanyaki food before, it's basically food cooked on a large flat grill. In this case, the grill is sat in the middle of your table, which you may be sharing with other groups depending on the size of yours.
You order your food, for example steak, prawns and chicken, and you're bought a bowl of miso soup and sushi whilst you wait for the chef.
The chef comes out, introduces himself, and has a little joke with everyone. The food is cooked in front of you, including egg fried rice from scratch. Knives are flipped, mini onion volcanos are created, delicious food is served.
Go when the meal deal is on and enjoy an entertaining night out and some fresh and tasty food.
I love Benihana. I used to go to one in Miami for my birthday every year. The London branches are a bit different from their counterparts in the US. The main difference being the pink sauce. In the UK it's basically a mustard sauce.
The fried ice cream and friend banana desserts are fantastic.
The key to getting out of here alive (as in, with your wallet in tact) is to go for the 7 course combo menu. It's around £20 and includes your choice of two mains, a salad, soup, california rolls, rice and some shrimp.
The highlight of this restaurant is that the chefs cook the food at the table on a large hot plate that every one sits around. Some chefs do amazing tricks, flinging bowls at people, flames the lot. This is obviously enjoyable to watch, but makes the seating a little awkward and we had a big party so we felt a bit spread out.
You have set menus and you can choose two of the following... prawns, chicken, lobster, salmon.
You are then presented with a miso soup, then four bits of sushi, the chef then cooks up onions, asparagus etc and your first choice, so lobster for me, which was very nice.
Then he fries the egg fried rice in front of you and you start to munch on that with a side salad, you then get your second option, salmon for me was good, huge portion!
The food was pleasant but the sushi wasn't my cup of tea, but because I eat it a lot I am picky and the mayonaise crab & cucumber rolls weren't anything special. It was however an interesting experience and you get stuffed up by the end of the meal!
Set meal is under £20 but the drinks are over priced but thats Soho for you. Try out for a casual night with friends!
If you've got a group of about 20 people you want to entertain and have a decent budget - then this is where you want to go, especially if the people are work colleagues and you're a little concerned about who's sitting next to who and are they going to enjoy the night.
I recently organised our firm's Christmas party and Benihana's was the perfect choice. The food was outstanding and the service impeccable. The bill was much less than I expected and the atmosphere was brilliant. I can't sing their praises enough and as testimony to the suitability of the venue, the partners in the firm have asked me to make sure we can do next year's Christmas party there too.
We had 6 party menu's to choose from and they were very flexible with dietary requirements. Substituting meat for fish and accommodating various food intolerances.
The theatrical nature of the Tepanyaki style cooking was fabulous 'entertainment' and a really good ice breaker.
Do go here at least once in your lifetime - and twice if you can.
I haven't read Larissa D's review, which is probably poor form considering that she's my wife, but I figure a companion opinion is always welcome.
So anyway, I'll get the bad out of the way first as sadly, that is what immediately springs to mind. I really want to like Benihana, as I love Teppanyaki as an experience, but Benihana (in the UK, at least) just doesn't do it for me.
The whole idea, in case you don't know, is that you sit around a hibachi grill and the chef cooks things to order. Now, while it is always interesting to see your food being cooked up, the real fun is watching the chef do crazy-ass stuff with knives and setting stuff on fire, just for fun! KNIVES! FIRE!
Playing with fire is wrong, kids. Awesome, but wrong. Knives, I'm not sure. Ask your parents.
The chefs flip vegetables in the air and slice open prawns with ruthless ninja skill. They cook exactly how everyone would cook if they didn't know full well how foolish they would feel as they see their fingers formation flying slow-motion through the air.
So anyway, I'm not saying that my chef has to be Japanese and that Japanese people have ninja built-in to their DNA to make them naturally good with the choppy-slicey-stabby-killy, but you would imagine that since you get quite a lot of these style Japanese Steak house Hibachi grills, and very few Sunday Roast slicey gravy shacks, for example, that it is something of a Japanese thing.
So, I guess I have discrimination laws and equal-opportunity employment to thank for my half-arsed Turkish Arsenal fan (of course he was, how silly of me) and his lame completely football based banter and his even lamer knife craft. Its not that he's Turkish, or that he is an Arsenal fan (I think), but he just didn't seem interested in entertaining the table. This was a Saturday night at 9pm as well. You would think you would get the better chefs, but this guy just didn't cut it. Har.
The first time I went I think I got some dude who was good with the knives but not with the entertainment which was fine, but he might as well have been in the kitchen. I think what I am trying to say is that it will be completely down to chance as to who you get cooking your food. If your luck is like mine, you will find yourself looking around at the other tables longingly as the chefs astound and amaze their tables with their noodle based puppet theatre or beansprout choreography of the finale of HIghlander.
And I love Highlander, so that sucks.
The kicker is that it is REALLY expensive. So you pay a lot for what might be fantastic, but might also not be so fantastic, at all.
Having said this, the food is of a high quality and I doubt will ever fail to be tasty. So it seems weird not recommending a restaurant where the service is good (oh, the service is pretty good), the staff are friendly enough and the food is tasty, but there you go. Sue me.
By all means, experience a teppanyaki grill as they are fun to the max, but think long and hard before you spend most of your nightly budget on Benihana.
It's a dinner and show combined in one. You order your food and the chef cook it in front of you in this giant hotplate. The chef will try to show off and do all sort of tricks in front of you it's quite entertaining (more so after a few drinks). Unless you are still in the world of unlimited work 'entertainment' expense account I'd recommend you to stick to the set menu. Don't be alarmed by the sound of the 7 course menu, I think they count a bowl of steamed rice as a course.
Since we heard quite good reviews about this restaurant before we booked a table for our London trip last year, we had very high expectations. Unfortunately it wasn't anywhere near those expectations. At most the food was avarage and it was all about sitting near when they cooked the food. It was a show. It felt as the whole thing was 90% show and 10% okay food.
The chefs are very talented and its a real talking point/ice breaker watching them cook in front of you and throw bits of food into your mouth. But you get an astonishingly small amount of food for the money. We had once course which set me back about £60 (not including drinks) and I was still starving when we left
Found this place on Toptable and saw that it had a 7 course menu for £19.50 and also liked the sound of the whole concept about your food being cooked in front of you. We went on a Tuesday lunch so it was nice and quiet. Found the whole thing really enjoyable and entertaining. I wasn't expecting to be full after, but was nicely surprised by the amount of food we gotand the quality. I was impressed by the whole package. The only drawback was the decor is a bit dated and service was a little slow. Definitely worth a visit but now I've done it, probably won't be back for a while.
I would really recommend Benihana's because it is so different. The big selling point of the restaurant (I do not want to call it a gimmick) is that each table has its own chef who actually cooks on a hot plate right in front of you. It is great fun to see the chef chopping preparing and cooking your dinner in such close proximity. The food itself is lovely and authentic Japanese cuisine. This particular branch is bang in the centre of London whereas other branches are not so central. It is not the cheapest meal out you will ever have but worth it for the experience especially if there is a group of you.
Benihana is a great venue for a group meal. Especially if everyone is up for a bit of entertainment and interactivity with their meal. Benihana is a Japanese teppanyaki experience where they cook the food on grill tops live in front of you. There are few venues scattered across London but the venue we selected was near Piccadilly Circus for is central location. Upon arriving at Benihana they guided us to the bar which is a good idea for when you are meeting a large group of people but also quick way of spending your money! We'd booked for the offer of 7 courses for £16.50" off top table the booking stating that it was imperative that you arrive on time otherwise they would cancel it. A bit harsh but I think in most cases, especially when there's a large group of you, the restaurant won't mind if you're a little bit late. As it was they kept us waiting anyway for our table. Because there were 11 of us we couldn't all fit around one cook top so we were split into two groups and taken care of by two chefs. Our chef was very cute, and very Spanish, whilst the other girls got the head chef. I think we were better off because our chef was quite flashy including setting fire to the food (deliberate of course) on numerous occasions, creating a little flaming volcano of onion rings and generally tossing food all over the place. At one stage he even did the throw-the-food-into-your-mouth trick with one of the girls. As for the food, the 7 courses got us two meats (choice of beef, chicken, salmon, prawns, and another fish), fried rice, salad, vegetables, soup, and California rolls (the rolls were delish!) I didn't think it would be enough food but actually I was fairly filled up by the end of the meal. The only negative to the concept was that the meats were cooked at different rates so we were all eating at different times and sometimes the food was overcooked. I couldn't complain about the service which was at all times friendly and impeccable. Overall I think Benihana is a good fun place to go with a group of people to experience something a little distinctive from the usual dining experience even if the food is not the highest quality or best tasting you've had. Its definitely a place to be entertained if you get the right chef. Be warned, however, that it can get quite pricey if you add bottles of wine to your meal.
Booked this place for my mums birthday and it did not disappoint. It had a real good atmosphere to it and provided a entertainment in the chef cooking your food in front of you. Good value for money.
Where else in London can you get a chef who cooks and entertains. Who needs dinner and a show! The chef was very skilled and a real comedian. The food was good, but not as good tepanyaki as I have had in my home country.
I have been to Benihana both in the UK and Hawaii and it is a fab eating experience. It is best to go with a small group as it's a very fun place where the chefs cook the food in front of you and are quite the showmen. They use good quality ingredients which are very fresh. Try the wasabi ice cream for something totally different - I am dying to go back just to have some more of it.
I went for the £22 8 course meal with a friend and we opted for black cod, prawns, steak and chicken for the main teppenyaki. Was very impressed with the food and value. All in (with some sake and water) the bill was under £50. No need to order anything else and very entertaining chef by the name of Hayo Moto. Recommend it. Do bear in mind though that the restaurant itself is a little bit tired however still worth it.
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