Benihana has always been one of the restaurants that has a huge global presence but I don’t know anyone who has ever visited. It has restaurants in 25 countries around the world and is exceedingly popular but is not frequented by snobs such as myself on the grounds of its ubiquity. However, I was enticed to visit by its lunch offer, billed as Lobster vs. Wagyu. Although this sounds like one of the most tedious science fiction movies ever, it makes for a tantalising offer when the price is £17.90.
I visited the restaurant on a Thursday afternoon and there is a very luxurious feel to the place. There was hardly anyone there except for people coming in from the Chelsea Flower Show and a couple of local parents.
The lunch menu starts off with miso soup, which was pretty well done, although the salad that followed was unremarkable and seemed a little superfluous in the context of a lunch menu. However, it was then onto the dishes, which is where things got interesting. Wagyu beef has a certain mythical status amongst meat connoisseurs with all kinds of stories abounding as to how the beef gets its intense marbling and high percentage of unsaturated fat. There are tales of beer and sake being introduced into their food and massages being used to achieve its unique flavour.
Whatever is being done to those cows certainly seems to be having the desired effect. First up were the korokee, potato and wagyu beef croquettes. Much like their French counterparts, the korokee used the potato base to provide the potency of the beef to come through.
This was followed up by some sashimi and beef sushi. This showcased the versatility of wagyu. You could tell by the taste that it had been prepared slightly differently and this brought out different aspects of the wagyu.
The exceptionally filing meal was rounded off with ice cream tempura. It was so good that even though it was a struggle to get it all in after a very heavy meal, it was worth the effort to keep going.
I would highly recommend the lunch at Benihana as it is not only great value but allows you to swan around pontificating on the delights of wagyu beef. Well that’s what I’ve been doing ever since anyway.
77 Kings Road