Monday, March 5, 2012

Benihana

Where: Benihana, 165 S West Temple, Salt Lake City

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Land 'N Sea (filet mignon and scallops) and Hibachi Supreme (steak tenderloin and lobster tail) Teppanyaki Specialties

What It Cost: $83.00 (including tip)

What We Thought: 


Warning: Be prepared for a huge overload of photographs here! Since they cook everything right in front of you, they serve it to you right as it's ready. And since I was so hungry, I couldn't wait to get more than one food item per plate! 


Owen's birthday was last week, so I wanted to surprise him by taking him somewhere a surprise and special. He's more into the presentation of the food and into the show, so I knew that Benihana would definitely be the place to take him. This was actually my first time here, but I've seen The Office, so I felt pretty well prepared.

When you are looking for this restaurant, you have to be pretty vigilant -- it's tucked in between two big buildings and is kind of hard to find. The Blue Iguana is also right next to it, so if you've been trying to find that restaurant as well, good luck. Just look for the signs they usually put out on the road. Oh, and make sure to bring your parking ticket, because they will validate for at least part of your meal!



I knew of course that the prices would be ridiculously high, and in fact, I think this is probably the most expensive meal we've ever had together, except maybe at Disneyland. But what I wasn't counting on was the amount of food we were going to get! Fortunately, I had eaten my lunch at 10 that day and was STARVING by the time we went, so the large amount of extra food that comes with the teppanyaki specialty entreés was just what I needed.


We started out the meal with the onion soup. We didn't get to pick the soup (all side options came automatically with the price of the entreé), but it was pretty good anyway. It was more flavorful than I thought it would be, and it tasted like there were actually some onions in there.


The description of grilled vegetables was a little misleading, since it only came with grilled zucchini, but it was still pretty good. You never have the problem with food being served cold, which was great! 


The salad was definitely the most disappointing part of the meal. It just had some shredded cabbage and carrots on top, a couple grape tomatoes, and WAYYY too much dressing, which was very strong. I couldn't even finish the salad, it was just too much to handle. 


Our teppanyaki chef was definitely the BEST part of the meal. If you can, I would totally recommend trying to request Cornelio (our chef). He was so funny, making little jokes under his breath the whole meal, flipping knives and food and shrimp bites all over, and he worked very hard to serve the best food he could cook up. The couple who sat across from us said that they had been coming here 25 years, and that this was the best food they've ever had! I guess we totally lucked out since it was a first trip for both of us!


The only thing I was sad about is that Cornelio said that they aren't allowed to do fire anymore. THAT would make things even more awesome.


I love all things Disney, so of course I loved this Mickey Mouse he made for us. We were the only ones at our table who didn't order fried rice -- I'm kind of picky about my fried rice, and didn't want to spend an extra eight bucks on it since we were already getting a lot of food. But everyone else got it, and looking back, I think it might just be because it makes for a more fun show? Cornelio was a little offended that I didn't want to try his famous Benihana rice, so after he served everyone up, he scraped a little bit of the remains onto my plate to try! I was actually glad I hadn't ordered it - it was a little dry, and I like some more greens in my fried rice. But it was still awesome to try a little! 


He drew the eggs into a rooster. And then made a really funny joke that I can't remember! But he was great.


The meal came with some shrimp on the side. I'm not a big shrimp person, but I had to try them to see. There are two things that I wish I could change about Benihana, but I understand why they do it this way: 1) Everything is pretty much good at one of two heats (HOT or warming), and 2) Everything is pretty much seasoned the same way -- salt, lemon, butter. I know they do this because they have to bring everything out on the same cart and it simplifies things, but I would like a little more variety. Maybe if they marinated some options beforehand or something? Oh well. The shrimp tasted alright, but it was a little too rubbery and squishy. Owen says that's just how shrimp is, but I felt like it was a little overdone.


Owen's tenderloin was served with mushrooms, and he asked for it to be cooked medium well. You can tell with the little bits of pink that Cornelio knows how to cook his meat, but it probably would have tasted a little more tender if Owen had asked for a rarer preparation. It tasted like butter and lemon (like everything else), and was a little tough, but not too bad.


Cornelia, doing work on the shrimps. Considering they have to keep everything cooking at the same time, and on the same surface, I'd say he did an admirable job.


This filet mignon was the highlight of the food for me. I requested it medium, and it was so perfect, so juicy, and surprisingly flavorful. I told Cornelio that it was probably the best prepared red meat I've had in the state of Utah, and I think he didn't know if he should take that as a compliment or not...but it was delicious! Owen was super jealous and kept trying to sneak some off of my plate.


Owen tried lobster for the first time, which I warned him against since who knows how fresh lobster in Utah would be...?? It was okay, but probably not worth the price. It had the best presentation of any of the food - usually the meat or something was just shoveled onto our plate from the hot surface, but at least this one was still in the pretty bright red shell. But you couldn't tell from this pile of meat why anyone pays extra for lobster.


A little onion volcano! Fun! If only there could be fire....


It turns out I was totally spoiled with the scallops at SORA a couple of weeks ago...These little pieces of seafood were much tinier and much more rubbery than what I had remembered. Once again, I don't think the heat settings that the Benihana chefs are confined to are the most desirable for cooking this kind of meat, so they weren't the best scallops in the whole world. But at least it was fun to get to watch them being cooked! 


Our entreés ALSO came with ice cream at the end of the meal! Yeah, lots of things included with the meal! Owen got the cinnamon gelato, which I really liked, and I got the rainbow sherbet (yes I'm 5 years old...), which Owen really liked! So at least we both liked one of them :) It's pretty hard to go wrong with a scoop of ice cream, so these were about what I expected. Nothing fancy, but hey, who's going to turn down ice cream? Not me.


What You Should Do: Go for a special occasion. It's WAY too expensive (and the food isn't that spectacular) to eat here very often, but you have to at least experience it once! It sounds like we totally lucked out with our experience and got one of the best chefs, so I would maybe call ahead and request to have a chef who is highly rated or something. If you're going to be dropping $80 on a meal, you want it to be a great experience, and a great show. We got both of those things and had a really fun time. I was surprised at the amount of food that came with our entreés, so even though it was a lot of money, it was also a lot of food and we were very full by the end of the meal. The service was really great for us, and I'm glad that we lucked out with having such a great experience! The only thing I regretted about the meal was wearing clothes that are hard to wash...since they cook everything right in front of you, by the end of the night we both totally smelled very strongly of Benihana food! So just be sure not to wear something that's hand wash only :) 

Read other reviews here: 
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