Benihana Japanese Restaurant offers guests two of Japan’s most popular dining options with a fusion-sushi section, and several cooking islands for teppanyaki (hot plate cooking). This restaurant is famed for its oversized, signature sushi rolls and the larger-than-life teppanyaki chefs who entertain while they cook and offer a memorable show. Benihana is a restaurant brand with an interesting and colourful past that started back in 1960s New York and has since spread to several countries around the world with its unique take on Japanese cuisine, where delicious food is complemented by a fun and frivolous atmosphere. The restaurant is located in the forested grounds of the Anantara Riverside Resort, alongside the Chao Praya River.
The entrance to Benihana has ‘tori’ gates, Japanese armour, and giant ‘taiko’ drums to really set an oriental mood. The staff will ask you if you intend to eat sushi, teppanyaki, or both, but the restaurant is at its most entertaining when sitting around the cooking island and watching the lightning-fast chefs prepare delicious cuts of premium beef from Japan, USA and Australia. Steak starts from the 1000 baht price range and goes up for the more exclusive cuts: 250g of wagyu rib eye steak costs 1,750 baht, and the signature Kagoshima tenderloin is a hefty 4,200 baht for 200g. There are also a range of ocean delicacies to choose from with lobster, Atlantic salmon and barramundi all available. Look out for the Kurobuta pork cutlet (750 baht) which has a marbled texture and deliciously rich taste. All meat at Benihana is grain fed and hormone free, so guests can be assured that their meal is not only delicious but also healthy.
The teppanyaki menu has several special combos to choose from, such as teriyaki twist, which is a medley of salmon, yellow-fin tuna and butterfish, fried with ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Because diners are sat so close to the cooking station, the smells from the food is noticeable – for some people this is part of the charm of the restaurant as it is a treat for all the senses, but others prefer a little more space between pan and plate. This is something to think about when you choose whether to sit up front at the cooking island or in the more formal dining area. The great thing about Benihana is both options are offered and staff are extremely accommodating.
Benihana is open for lunch and dinner, and if you find grilled dishes too heavy for lunch, take a seat away from the teppanyaki station and enjoy Benihana’s delicious range of sashimi and sushi rolls. There are noticeable elements of fusion in their sushi recipes, the likes of which you may never have seen before. Each plate is served with four bigger-than-bite-size rolls that have interesting flavours that enhance and contrast with tastes not traditionally associated with sushi. Not one for the traditionalists, B.L.T. rolls (440 baht) are strips of smoked bacon rolled with steamed lobster, avocado and crunchy roe – the term ‘fusion’, was created for this dish! The smoked bacon flavour overpowers the dish at first but the avocado and fresh lobster comes through later.
Fireball sushi rolls (350 baht), so called because the seasame seeds on the bottom half of the rolls are literally toasted by flaming sake, add some spice to theproceedings with tuna tartar and avocado laced with Thai Sriracha hot sauce, spicy mayo and crispy fried scallions. The taste is a must try for anyone who thinks sushi has to be bland, and lack the powerful flavours usually associated with more tropical climes. To drink, Benihana offers an impressive range of sake and schochu, and their fresh seasonal fruit smoothies are excellent.
There are two ways to reach Benihana Restaurant. You can take a taxi, but bear in mind that Anantara is on the other side of the river which means a stop-start journey across the bridge. The easiest – and most impressive – way to get to there is to take the free shuttle boat from Saphan Taksin pier next to Saphan Taksin BTS station, which leaves every 30 minutes from morning until late into the night. The journey downstream takes you past several sights, including Asiatique night market, and makes a fun prelude to an enjoyable meal.