Celebrating turning 23 with some teppanyaki fun.
Last week I turned the grand old age of 23. In order to celebrate this momentous, one-step-closer-to-a-quarter-life-crisis (omg) occasion, Andy and I visited Benihana's in Piccadilly. Benihana was one of the pioneering restaurants to introduce teppanyaki to the US in the '60s. Since then, the whole Benihana experience has evolved into a flamboyant show with tricks, knife flips and comedy. It's more about the overall theatrical performance than just eating a nice meal. The idea is about 8 of you sit around the flat griddle which acts as the centrepiece. You all choose your main but everyone gets the same starters and sides. The chef then begins the entertainment with some very fast spinning and juggling of his utensils while we start with our Japanese onion soup to warm up the palette. Andy and I decided to try a side of wagyu beef gunkan and nigiri, which melted in the mouth. We were given two sauces, a ginger sauce for the starter and a Japanese mayonnaise for the mains.
We watched as the chef butterflied prawns faster than you can say 'teppanyaki', which were served with some Hibachi vegetables. Then came The Onion Volcano. A little tower of onions were carefully stacked as the lights dimmed down. Then, with a good squirt of oil the volcano erupted into a firey blaze. You can watch a little video of this over on my Instagram! After the fire died down, this left behind the most deliciously charred onions to accompany the prawns.
For the mains, Andy chose the Benihana Special - Hibachi steak and lobster tail, whereas I went for the tuna fillet steak served medium rare. All the mains are served with sticky rice, a side salad and beansprouts. My favourite part about the mains is that you get to see what everyone else has ordered. The tuna steak was cooked to perfection, covered in a sticky teriyaki sauce and Andy's duo were incredibly tasty. Dessert was ice-cream tempura, yes deep-fried ice-cream! The staff came out to sing Happy Birthday in Japanese which was more than embarrassing but very sweet. They then took a photo of us and within 2 minutes I was presented with a card print-out of our photo.
Queue: We sat in the bar for a drink beforehand, however I did have to book a while in advance to get a table on a Friday night.
Price: It's expensive. For two of us with cocktails, two mains, an extra side and pudding it was around £67 each.
Ambience: Extremely accommodating, friendly staff. Definitely must visit for a special occasion, as the show is good fun.
We felt we'd had better food elsewhere, but the experience and theatrical atmosphere is something not to be missed! Do you know of any good teppanyaki places to visit?
Molly, 23, London.
A tiny food pornographer, with a minor addiction to burgers and sushi. Following a dairy-free diet not by choice, but forever choosing to eat cheese and chocolate.