As one of today’s worldwide premier Asian-themed restaurants, Benihana is a perfect place for a romantic dinner for two, a night out on the town with your friends, or even a family dinner. Their impressive teppanyaki chefs will entertain you with their impressive knife and cooking skills while you dine on authentic Japanese cuisine with an American flair. They only use the highest quality ingredients such as fresh vegetables, lean meats, and seafood. Their ingenious concept of hibachi style communal dining originated in the early 1960’s and quickly caught on worldwide. They still hold the global record for the longest running dinner show.
With their impressive menu of sushi, hibachi, teppanyaki and sake, Benihana has something for everyone. They offer both a family style hibachi setting as well as lounge seating for a more intimate meal. They have over 64 teppanyaki locations worldwide as well as over 15 franchises. They also own 6 Haru and 27 RA Sushi restaurants. A little-known fact is that their “tiki mug” used for their fancy and exotic cocktails are collector’s items.
Benihana’s was founded in 1954 by Rocky Aoki. He moved to the U.S. from Tokyo, Japan after graduating from college with the dream of opening his own restaurant. Like most successful businessmen, his story has a humble beginning as got his start on the streets of Harlem selling ice cream by the day while putting himself through night school for restaurant management. His innovative idea of serving his treats topped with brilliantly colored Japanese umbrellas helped his little ice cream stand to take off and soon he saved up enough, along with a loan, to open his first restaurant.
Aoki opened America’s premier teppanyaki restaurant in New York City’s West 59th street in 1964. He named it Benihana’s after his parent’s coffee shop in Tokyo, which inspired him to go into business in the first place. Featuring the interior of a quaint and real-life Japanese farmhouse, his top-class chefs would prepare authentic Japanese style cuisine in front of customers seated in tables around a steel grill. Customers were blown away by the impressive theatrical knife skills of the highly skilled chefs and he got rave reviews from legendary critics. He paid off his loans and turned a profit with six months after opening.
Today there are over 70 locations in worldwide boasting over 100 million meals served since it’s humble beginnings on the streets of Harlem. They remain the largest Teppanyaki franchise and have over 7,400 employees worldwide with 15 franchises and in 2007 they celebrated the opening of the 100th store.
Even in today’s competitive food industry, as other teppanyaki restaurants are opening worldwide, Benihana has remained the leader in the industry. They offer a selection of authentic Japanese sake as well as an extensive menu of other alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. You can choose from appetizers, a wide selection of hand-crafted specialty sushi rolls, and, of course, the hibachi menu where you can order anything from steak to chicken to seafood. They also offer an extensive lounge menu if you prefer a more quiet and romantic setting.
Their chefs are well known for their top qualify knife skills and will put on a show that you will never forget. The quaint, yet exotic atmosphere will make you feel like you have instantly transported to Tokyo while still giving you that homey, relaxing vibe so you can enjoy your meal.
The prices are reasonable and you get a lot of value for your money. The average appetizer ranges around $8 and the Teppan entrees average around $20 but include five to six courses with items such as soup, hot tea, soup, salad, hibachi shrimp appetizer, hibachi vegetables, homemade dipping sauces and steamed rice as well as your well-proportioned entree. The lounge specials range around $20 as well and include menu selections ranging from fish tacos to filet mignon. Both the Teppan and Lounge menus offer affordable lunch menus as well with the average selection ranging from $9-$15.
As with any popular restaurant on a weekend, there may be a little bit of a wait. Most locations have more than adequate seating so the wait time is about average, but once you are seated, the dinner show is well worth the wait. They are well known for their excellent hygiene, vast menu selection, highly skilled and extremely talented chefs, friendly staff and welcoming environment.