Today is: Sunday, June 16, 2024

Benihana Restaurant Review

Re-discover the personalized experience of having your choice of succulent
seafood, tender chicken, juicy steaks, and garden-fresh vegetables grilled
to delicious perfection in an extraordinary theater that will feed
the senses and entertain the appetite: Benihana!

Teppanyaki Cooking Table

The first Benihana opened in 1964, introducing traditional Japanese cuisine to the United States. Now with locations world wide, the hibachi steakhouse serves 'teppanyaki' cooking, with performing chefs preparing and serving chicken,
steak, and seafood dishes right in front of guests. In addition, Benihana
offers a variety of fresh sushi and other Japanese favorites.

Its verdant walls and floral-theme décor evoke the spirit of new growth, while the elegant artistry of its Japanese culinary presentations and fresh ingredients translate
the feeling of spring to the taste buds. The menu is blend of the familiar and the unexpected, with staples like Chicken Teriyaki and Veggie Tempura sharing
space with sushi rolls and fabulous desserts. An exceptional collection
of sakes complete the crisp, clean flavor experience.

 Samurrai Ice Tea                                        Premium Sake

This bright and cheerful Benihana restaurant in Santa Monica is a welcome addition
to the dining options in the area, making it a popular destination for lunching office workers and local residents. Since its opening 6 years ago, Benihana has earned
itself a loyal clientele who flock to the restaurant for its refreshing and refined
cuisine, its inviting atmosphere, and the elegant artistry of its culinary presentation.

The menu is eclectic, offering familiar sushi and Japanese dishes as well as a variety
of creative rolls and rare ingredients. Standard fare like Veggie Tempura, Chicken Teriyaki, and Spicy Tuna Rolls share the spotlight with Soft Shell Crab appetizers,
etc. Benihana offers a variety of options for both traditional and iconoclastic
palates, making selection a delightfully daunting task. 

Shrimp Tempura

I loved the Teppanyaki experience we had. Upon
entering we are greeted warmly by the staff in an unfamiliar
tongue, creating an ambience that is as welcoming as a neighborhood
haunt but with all of the allure and fascination of a foreign getaway. Wooden
tables seating small groups of two to eight are arranged neatly in the main body
of the restaurant, the thoughtful organization gives the restaurant a surprisingly
spacious feel, creating intimate and individualized dining niches.

  Soft Shell Crab                                       Scallop Tempura

As dish after beautiful dish arrives at our table, we are awe-struck by the artful presentation of each culinary creation. We order a selection of appetizers that
were truly delicious; such as Shrimp Tempura, this is no ordinary Shrimp Tempura: upon biting into these massive battered gems we discover that the shrimp meat
has been finely diced, battered, and reformed with a shrimp tail handle, giving it
both an unexpected trompe l’oeil effect and a deliciously smooth texture. The
tart, almost pickled flavor of the rich sauce well accents the buttery tempura
batter and the sweet shrimp meat. A drizzling of sesame seeds over the
plate adds a satisfying grit, yet another deliciously surprising texture
in this complex dish, the same for the Scallop Tempura
and the Soft Shell Crab Tempura.

Shrimp Crunchy Roll                                   Caterpillar Roll      

The Shrimp Crunchy Roll lives up to its name: its colorful construction stretches languidly on the plate next to a sandy-colored sauce, evoking a vibrant tropical
sunset over an exotic beach. Tempura shrimp tails and the luscious green of
avocado peek out seductively from between each segment, hinting at the rich
bounty bound within the white rice walls of the roll. The roll is a shrewd
manipulation of flavor complexity, layering the fresh sweetness of the shrimp,
the creamy richness of avocado, and the lingering heat of the jalapeno and
sriracha. A dip in the sauce mixture, a blend of pungent and a slightly sweet,
delicate, cream sauce, adds a new level of flavor juxtaposition that further
excites the palate. It is a nuanced and novel dish that, as a special
of the evening and not a regular staple of the menu, is
as ethereal and fleeting as a dream.

Our next roll was the Caterpillar Roll, its presentation on the plate retains the suggestion of paradisal escapades. The smoky, savory vegetables, cooked lightly in teriyaki, add a depth of flavor that grounds the light, crispy fish pieces nicely.

Nigori sake                                                  Kirin Beer

As accompaniment, we are treated to a sample from Benihana’s extensive and well-selected sake collection. The Suigie “Drunken Whale”, Jonmai, Kochi sake; we
taste is smooth and light with a hint of floral backgrounds, devoid of the sweet
or acidic notes that pervade other sakes. This light and clean-tasting sake
amplifies the refreshing taste and discreet complexities of each fish,
both uniting and distinguishing them from one another on the
tongue. It is a sophisticated and memorable pairing.
Shrimp and Vegetables                                 Fried Rice Cooking     

Miso Soup                                          Fried Rice

One of the essential features of Teppanyaki cooking is very relaxing, yet stimulating and entertaining way the food is cooked and served to waiting diners. Seeing the
fresh food, watching someone cooking – or interacting in the process – and
smelling the delicious aromas are a sure thing to whet the appetite.
The word teppanyaki derives from “teppan”, which originally
means “iron plate”, while “yaki” translates to “grilling”.

Lobster and Scallops                               Preparing the Shrimp

Preparing the Vegetables                           Great Selection of Meats 

Today Teppanyaki-style cooking can be performed on a stainless steel electric hotplate, which can be used both, indoors and out. The food is being cooked
where it is to be eaten. The diners are involved in the process by their presence
and interaction, making the meal a very convivial experience. All of our food
was excellent, especially the steak, shrimp, scallops and lobster. Great
entertainment by the chef at our table and just fun at a good price.
Our dinners came along with a soup and a salad, both delicious.

Green Tea Ice Cream and Banana Tempura

Of course, we had to save some space for our desserts, and the Green Tea Ice Cream is a whimsical finale to our meal as well as the Banana Tempura. The buttery warmth of the tempura batter melds with the sweet banana into a dessert that is
both simple and light with an underlying richness that is deeply satisfying. Like
the surrounding décor, the Green Tea Ice Cream is a skillful fusion of East and
West, using both Japanese and Western culinary elements to create an experience
that plays with notions of the familiar and the foreign, the refined and the quirky,
and the traditional and the unexpected. The result is a resounding success.        

As we take our leave of Benihana, I must say that our meal was everything
we expected. It’s easy to see why this restaurant is popular with both the
locals and the Japanese community. Benihana is a great restaurant
that re-invented cooking and entertaining.

For map and location click Here!

For more information please visit their website at

Article By: Mary Adams
Photos By: Chris Marx

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