Alarmed by the news that Benihana might be sold, last night Short Order paid a visit to the teppanyaki temple, which is located off the 79th Street Causeway. However, it was business as usual at the waterfront eatery (which, like most Miami restaurants, doesn't actually have outdoor seating) and none of the employees knew anything about the possible sale. In fact, at 9 p.m. the Miami Beach location was fairly full with patrons drinking Mai Tais out of ceramic Buddha cups and gorging themselves on hibachi fare.
Short Order did notice that Benihana has substantially
upgraded their menu with more gourmet selections such as Colossal Mango Shrimp,
Spicy Hibachi Chicken and Emperor's Salad (with grapefruit, avocado, asparagus,
wasabi dressing and a choice of chicken, steak or shrimp). It's doubtful that (recently deceased) founder Rocky Aoki knew from such fusion cooking back when he opened the first
Benihana in 1964 in New York City.
Despite the fact that Short Order could care less about the
grillside show (we come here for the food, thank you very much), our toque
Cedric performed the usual Benihana classics such as flipping shrimp tails into
his jacket pocket and forming a heart out of the mound of chicken fried rice.
Ditto to the tower of onions, which, when doused with water, resembled a
volcano. And although the new menu items sounded tempting, everyone at our
table stuck to classic dishes such as Hibachi Shrimp and filet mignon. Each of
these entrees was doused with dollops of garlic butter, but hey, no one comes
here for healthful cooking.
Many people do visit Benihana for their birthday, however,
as evidenced by the fact that every table (except ours) was celebrating one.
And who doesn't love hearing "Happy Birthday" sung in Japanese ten times
through the course of the night? Of course, it's kitschiness like this that
keeps Benihana near and dear to our (clogged) heart. That and the buttery,
soy-saucy, grilled food. (Calories, be damned!) Let's just hope that if the
sale does go through that the new owners will keep Benihana as "authentic" as
1665 NE 79 Street Causeway, Miami Beach