The Reverend Eats … Benihana
It was a friend’s Birthday and they suggest Benihana – somewhere I’d seen before but never eaten at. Benihana is a Teppanyaki restaurant where a chef prepares your food right in front of you. I have experienced this before but not while living in London.
There are a couple of Benihana restaurants in London and we visited the Piccadilly location.
The closest tube station is Piccadilly Circus but it is easily within walking distance of Green Park & Oxford Circus. Its a lovely walk from Charring Cross Station however you may prefer to jump in a black cab if the weather, or time, is against you.
The restaurant is just off Piccadilly so you leave a busy road with loads going on and down Sacksville Street you’ll see the signs for it. It has a large-ish front for a London restaurant and it gets you a good look at what the inside of the restaurant is like.
As we came in, we were invited to wait on the left, by the bar. Drinks orders were taken and we waited for other chums to arrive. It had some seating but not enough for a party of over 10 (like ours) so as more people arrived, they moved us to our table – well two tables.
Being a Teppanyaki restaurant we had two large tables that each sat 8 people and one side was a hot plate for cooking food.
Being a Teppanyaki restaurant they do focus on the food cooked on the hotplate however they also offer sushi/sashimi and other ‘small dish’ items. As we were a large party we ordered from the ‘party menu’ where you could choose what was included in your dinner. As long as everyone ordered from this party menu, it wouldn’t be an issue.
I ordered the ‘Kabuki’ and it included
- Onion soup a la Benihana
- Benehani salad with Ginger Dressing
- Prawn Appetizer with Onion volcano and courgette
- Hibachi Rice
- Hibachi Chicken with Mushrooms
- Hibachi Steak with Mushrooms
- Hibachi Vegetables
What a lot of food! As it was a special night out, I suggested to my dining partner we share some additional tempura prawns.
The Chef arrived at the table – his name was Marlon and he would be preparing all our food for the evening.
Its a bit hard to describe things as starter and such when there were so many components to the meal. I will say that the Tempura prawns and the onion soup were definitely starters. Although not loads of prawns, they were crispy and enjoyable. The soup was amazingly light and there was an option to swap it for Miso soup for those looking for a vegetarian offering.
The soup wasn’t as heavy as a french onion soup and it certainly helped ease us into the mountain of food that was to come!
The Mains Event
Do not be mistaken. You will not have been served this volume of food before. I admit I made a mistake – there was no need to order an ‘extra’ starter – but its important that I made this mistake so that I could warn you! Save yourselves! Its too late for me!
We were treated to the Onion volcano before the fried rice was made. It was nice to get a message from Marlon however as I was there with the wife, I’m not sure it was an appropriate time for him to declare his love for me. We also saw a few of the chef’s tricks, including;-
- Egg in Hat
- Spiny Egg
- Egg Yoke toss
- Quick Knife Work
It really is impressive watching a Teppanyaki chef at work. At each course you have an idea what is coming but will be unsure how it will actually be prepared.
The amount of steak and chicken was immense. By this time I’d resigned myself that I just had to eat what i could and finishing everything would be out of the question. You get a whole steak and a whole chicken breast. The steak is cooked to your liking and the chicken breast is flattened a little to help the cooking. It was served with mushrooms, courgette and onion, as well as the egg fried rice from earlier.
I was well and truly stuffed. Liked properly stuffed. Stuffed more than a stuffed thing from Stuffland, who is going on holiday and needs to eat all the food in the fridge before they leave. At least there was no more food….Or was there?
I had forgotten about dessert! This is unfair! Too much food for one man to handle! JUST TOO MUCH!
I tried a mouthful but I had to admit defeat. I was unsure whether I could walk out the restaurant or whether my friends would need to lie me on my side and roll me out.
Our two set menus came to £86. Thats a lot of money for just food but remember that we are in prime London and everything costs more. But if you break it down, if we’d have had 3 courses each in a non-chain pub near here.
- Starters – 2 x £7.50
- Steak Main course – 1 x £25
- Prawn Main Course 1 x £20
- Desserts – 2 x £7.50
- Total – £75
Based on this, the pricing seems pretty reasonable. We had our own chef who cooked everything, except the tempura and the desserts, in front of us. We had a couple of cocktails and there was a service charge put on top so I don’t think there was much change from £150.
The Reverend’s Final Thought
What can I say? So much food! Other than the quantity of food I think you’ll enjoy an evening out at Benihana. I’ve been to some very nice restaurants in London but I think this has been the most enjoyable meal with friends. The element of Theatre with dinner, and the relaxed atmosphere really helped to make it an evening to remember. I know its not the cheapest place to eat in London but for its Prime Location, and the quality of what you are getting, then I think it is certainly something you should consider if you are in town for the evening.