Benihana’s colorful and iconic history only adds to its longstanding popularity as America’s original Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant. Opened in 1964 by Rocky Aoki, Benihana acquired its name from his parent’s Tokyo coffee shop.
Far from a coffee shop, Benihana combined Aoki’s talents and passion for entertainment and Japanese cuisine to deliver a theatrical culinary experience America had never seen. Nearly 60 years later, Benihana has 70 locations around the states and South America.
Dining at Benihana is still a cherished experience where customers marvel at culinary theatrics while they watch skilled chefs prepare the finest quality meats on a tableside grill.
The fun, high-energy dining experience pays off with a delicious, fine dining meal.
The menu at Benihana spans the Japanese culinary gamut with cold and hot plates, sushi, and of course, grilled favorites from the Teppanyaki tradition.
Top Benihana Menu Items
I have compiled a list of the dishes that represent the best food at Benihana to give you a foundation for what is sure to be a memorable dining experience.
Today, sushi and other more adventurous Japanese delicacies are all the rage.
However, back in the 1960s and 1970s, anything outside of the classic American steak and potato dinners was considered risqué.
Hibachi chicken was thus a revolutionary Japanese culinary experience that appealed to less adventurous tastes, paving the way for interest in trying new dishes.
In my opinion, Benihana’s hibachi chicken is perfect in its simplicity.
Skilled chefs prepare the dish with tender bite-sized pieces of chicken breast sizzled to perfection atop Benihana’s classic flat-top grills with mushrooms in a buttery soy sauce sauté, then garnished with sesame seeds.
While you might associate a delectable filet mignon with fine dining, I’m of the opinion that Benihana’s version is on par with any high-quality steakhouse.
Not only is the filet mignon cut from the finest beef tenderloin, but it’s also grilled theatrically in front of you. It’s a spectacle I recommend witnessing at least once!
The filet mignon at Benihana uses no elaborate sauces to mask its succulent and flavorful nature.
Chefs throw the gorgeous cut of steak on the grill with a light salt and pepper seasoning and fresh mushrooms to garnish.
The filet mignon is the main course of a three-course meal, replete with soup, salad, and accompanying grilled vegetables and dipping sauce.
Spicy Hibachi Shrimp
If you’re a seafood lover, believe me when I say that the spicy hibachi shrimp will delight your taste buds.
“Hibachi” describes the act of grilling meat in front of customers, so this dish is yet another display of culinary theatrics. I’ve long been a fan of hibachi-style serving, and love the usual variety of dipping sauces.
Usually, hibachi shrimp uses a simple combination of butter and soy sauce for grilling, letting the customers dip the shrimp in a sauce of their choosing.
With the spicy hibachi shrimp, fresh shrimp are grilled with onions, scallions, and yellow peppers in a secret, house-made spicy sauce. I’m a fan of spicy food, so this dish is one of my favorites.
Land N Sea
Another way to say, “surf and turf”, Land N Sea gives you the best of both worlds with an offering of the highest quality beef and seafood on the market.
I’ve long believed that a fine dining restaurant should never make you choose between steak and seafood anyway!
Benihana’s Land N Sea dish features its succulent filet mignon accompanied by delicate, rich scallops from Japan’s northern shores of Hokkaido grilled in a lemon sauce. In my opinion, this is the best value for your money.
Not only do you get the best of land and sea with this dish, but it also comes with shrimp hibachi and hibachi vegetables for a five-star feast.
If you’re wondering what the difference between teriyaki and hibachi is, you’re not alone.
They both assume the same sizzling grill and cooking techniques, cutting the chicken into bite-sized pieces. The difference is with the sauce and preparation.
Hibachi chicken uses a simpler cooking technique than teriyaki.
Benihana’s take on teriyaki chicken uses a sweet soy sauce marinade to infuse the chicken with more flavor before throwing it on the grill.
You still get to watch your culinary entertainer grill it to perfection in front of your eyes.
I’m fond of their interpretation as Benihana offers up a flavorful blast that isn’t just in the sauce, but oozing out of the marinated chicken. Benihana makes their traditional teriyaki sauce from scratch with grilled mushrooms to boot.
A classic Japanese appetizer, whether you’re at a teppanyaki, izakaya, or sushi bistro, it’s par for the course to munch on a platter of edamame to whet your appetite.
Edamame are soybeans served in their shells. You can order them hot or cold. For me, both are delicious, so just go with your instincts when you order.
They come lightly salted with an empty bowl for you to discard the empty shells.
Eating edamame is reminiscent of shelling peanuts and popping them into your mouth. As opposed to the hard crunch of a nut, you get a buttery, savory pop of green soybean.
I also love edamame as a source of healthy, lean protein, so I don’t feel guilty filling up on them while I wait for the main course.
Hibachi Tuna Steak
You’re in for a real treat with Benihana’s hibachi tuna steak. It’s an elaborate and flavorful grilled tuna dish, one that has long been a favorite of mine.
While many hibachi dishes use simple seasoning and preparation, letting the skillful grilling and exact temperatures of the grill highlight each meat’s flavors, the tuna steak takes it a step further.
It comes with a sesame seed crust and a garnish of tomato, avocado, and edamame.
Grilled for a few minutes to reach medium-rare, the tuna steak is then plated with a delicious white balsamic sauce to add yet another layer of tangy flavor.
When I think of Japanese food, sushi rolls and steaming pots of flavorful noodle soups come to mind.
Benihana may be about grilled meats and veggies, but I consider their take on those Japanese classics to always be a delight.
One such menu item is the Seafood Diablo, a flavorful stir-fried noodle dish packed with fresh seafood.
It uses the hibachi grill to combine sizzling scallops, calamari, shrimp, and mixed vegetables with Udon noodles in a house-made spicy sauce.
This dish is a part of a multi-course meal that starts with salad and soup. Plus, you still get hibachi dipping sauces, which I recommend using to add complexity to the flavor of your noodles to your liking.
Hibachi Chicken Rice
The dish that started it all, hibachi chicken rice is Benihana’s classic specialty.
If it’s your first time dining there, I recommend trying this perfect and simple dish to get a true sense of teppanyaki’s rise to fame in America.
A Japanese take on fried rice, the hibachi chicken rice grills butter chicken in soy with white rice and a scrambled egg, adding chopped vegetables to the mix.
While the dish may seem commonplace today, it was the catalyst for America’s love affair with Japanese food. I like to dress this dish up by adding shrimp or steak for an additional cost.
Top Benihana Menu Items
- Hibachi Chicken
- Filet Mignon
- Spicy Hibachi Shrimp
- Land N Sea
- Teriyaki Chicken
- Hibachi Tuna Steak
- Seafood Diablo
- Hibachi Chicken Rice
Benihana is a fun and special experience for group dining and a chance to witness an age-old culinary tradition that the restaurant itself introduced to America.
The diverse menu touches on various traditions of Japanese cooking, from sushi to noodles.
My list of the best food at Benihana has my favorite selection of grilled meat, fish, and starters that highlights this restaurant’s iconic culinary theatrics and expertly executed dishes.
Not in the mood for Japanese? Check out the best soul food restaurants across the US!
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