Good food, a potentially good show, but a pretty long process from start to finish. Note that they no longer do the flaming onion volcano either. Bummer.
Food Types: Japanese
Food Types: Seafood
Food Types: Steaks
Payment: $$$ - Pricey - $30 to $60
Service Type: Table
Offers: Kids Menu
Benihana is a teppanyaki style restaurant, and really the one that started the whole teppanyaki craze. If you've never seen teppanyaki style before it's a pretty neat show. You'll be seated around a flat top grill where the chef will come out and cook your food right in front of you while putting on a bit of a show.
If you get a good chef that's been doing this for a while then the show can be pretty entering and kids might actually sit in one spot for your entire meal while they watch the chef flip and tap his utensils around, toss food in the air, and otherwise showcase their talents. It's like the movie Cocktail for food, only not painful to sit through. In our case, the chef was new (I think I heard him say it was his first night) and he was pretty bad.
The big attraction is the flaming onion trick. The chef will take the rings of an onion and build up a volcano, then squirt in some flammable liquid, and light it on fire. The heat and raising flammable steam will shoot flames out the top. It's really neat to see this but you won't be able to! That's right, this is America and when somebody gets hurt on something the entire show is ruined for everyone so Benihana no longer offers this trick. Truly disappointing. Instead, and I'm not making this up, they'll use a laser pointer on the onion volcano. Wow. Lame.
Let's get on with it. You'll get to pick from a menu and decide on what type of meats, chicken, seafood, etc that you'll want to have cooked up. The chef will then cook it up while you eat. It's neat but each station seats 8 people so you'll be waiting for everyone to get their order taken, have their food cooked, etc. It's a slow process to say the least so you'll spend a couple of hours from start to finish.
On that note, you'll also be crammed into a tiny little table with complete strangers to the point where you are essentially bumping elbows with them. For the price of the meal here I found this to be unacceptable. In our case, if I had to get out of the table to use the bathroom (etc) four strangers would have to stop eating and move out of my way. It's just a bad seating system.
The service was good and drink refills were fast. I found their mai-tai ($9.50) to be quite tasty as well. They'll then serve you some soup (which is excellent), a small salad, and everyone gets a few shrimp as an appetizer.
I ordered Rocky's Choice ($34.00) for the meat portion of my meal which is half chicken and half steak. Both were cooked well and very tasty. The included cooked veggies were great as is the garlic fried rice ($3.00 add on).
While cooking the 8 meat meals for everyone at our table, the chef mixed things up and accidentally put some of my steak on the plate of the lady sitting next to me. She had eaten off her plate already (the earlier courses) and he actually scooped a few of the pieces back off her plate and then onto mine. It felt beyond tacky to me considering I'm now essentially eating off the plate of a stranger. I personally didn't care much but I could see some people being bothered by this so the right thing would have been to let her keep it and get me a new steak (as it takes no time to cook them up).
That was sort of par for the course with our chef who would also often drop things while trying to put on his show for us. Everyone has to start somewhere but a little more training would have gone a long way for him.
After the meal you'll get some hot tea and some of the meals come with a free scoop of ice cream, in which case I recommend you try the green tea ice cream.
Overall it was very good. Great food, and chances are good you'll have a better show than we did. Still, the lack of flaming onion volcano is a huge disappointment and you can literally hear everyone at each table asking about it while the chef explains that one chef somewhere got burned and so they can't do it.
It's not a quick meal though so be prepared to take your time here. One issue with the time involved is that each part of the meal is done one at a time. So the veggies that came out first will be cold by the time the rice comes out. The rice will then be cold by the time your meat comes out. Not an issue if you want to eat them all separately, but sort of annoying if you want to eat everything as one meal (as most do).
This is Hawaii and you are in the heart of tourist-ville and even though you get a ton of food the $115.00 (with tip) bill seemed unusually pricey. Maybe if the show was better it wouldn't sting so much. If you do want to eat here get reservations for sure.
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