Restaurant Review: Benihana Japanese Cuisine Westbury, Long Island

920 Merchant’s Concourse
Westbury, NY 11590
Phone: (516) 222-6091
Website: www.benihana.com

Reservations: recommended
Benihana is open 365 days a year

The first Benihana restaurant opened in 1964 and it came with the excitement of having a chef prepare a meal at your dining table. Eating at Benihana was not only an experience in the exotic flavors and smells of Japanese cuisine, it was a theater of cooking where a person could enjoy the swift and skilled techniques of Japanese cooking just inches away from his dining chair. The restaurant grew in popularity and became a chain that blossomed not only in the United States and Canada, but also throughout several countries in the world. The concept was imitated, but Benihana still successfully branded its name.

One of the earliest Benihana restaurants started as a small 4 table joint in New York City. About 6 months after it opened a restaurant critic wrote a raving review of Benihana and as they say, the rest was history. The Benihana restaurant experience became in demand and customers had to wait in line, while others just had to be turned away when the waiting became too long.

Today, Benihana has maintained its popularity as both a quality experience for Japanese food and visual table cooking. The food is prepared teppan-yaki style, which is a type of broiling in open air over a steel flat grill. The flames and knives are mesmerizing and this hibachi style cooking is a real hit among groups of people. Expert slicing and dicing and food artistically tossed into the air and seared. Customers watch multiple dishes prepared at the same time in an impressive table cooking show.

Benihana in Westbury has been around for at least 3 decades. Apparently it is still as successful as it once was because there always seems to be a wait and reservations are recommended. The restaurant is fairly large, with rooms sectioned off allowing for various size dinner parties. No doubt when you are there, someone will be celebrating a birthday and you will witness a little birthday dessert serving and show as well. Possibly 2 or 3 in the time it takes you to finish your meal. Benihana is that popular.

The quality of their food, for the most part is very good. Their specialty is really their Japanese hibachi style steaks, chicken and seafood. That is where you will get to see a table show, unlike some other dishes which are just simply served by a waiter or waitress. The hibachi meals are tasty and tender and cooked to near perfection. The vegetables are crisp and fresh and the sauces enhance the flavors of the food, rather than mask or drown it out. It is possible to get a light, yet filling meal at Benihana.

Benihana also serves Japanese sushi, however I don’t think sushi is their strong point. I have had better sushi in the little Japanese sushi bars of Manhattan, where that’s all they do. The salads are fresh and crisp. The green tea is okay, nothing exceptional.

Benihana is elegant yet an affordably priced Japanese rstaurant. It’s a good and fun choice for a group of people, including children, if they are not too young. The noise level can sometimes get above comfort, so keep that in mind if you like to dine quietly. The number of dining guests and exciting atmosphere lend itself to a certain noise level, which will be more noticeable if you are dining alone or as a couple. If you are dining as a group, it won’t bother you.

Benihana has a variety of Japanese side dishes including seafood tempura made with scallops, calamari and shrimp. They also have a tasty fried tofu, or you can get a mixed blend of saut�©ed vegetables in teriyaki sauces and lemon sprinkled with sesame seeds.

The main menu has several udon noodle dish choices and there is something for everyone, from a vegetarian salad to filet mignon to lobster tails. Benihana has lunch specials and also a special kids menu with a select number of simple items reflecting the Japanese theme and cuisine. If you are still hungry enough to squeeze in dessert, there is a short menu of light and refreshing sweets including a Japanese banana tempura which is pallet cleansing, or assorted sherberts and ice creams. They also have a tempura ice cream which is a mixture of pound cake and strawberry ice-cream, fried.

If you like Japanese food or enjoy a good chef show with sharp knives and artful cooking skills, then a trip to Westbury Benihana on Long Island is worth it, for at least one time. The food is good and the price is right.

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