So, last weekend held the day that some singles dread, either throwing some form of Galentines party or crying into their pillows with a box of tissues, Netflix, wine and array of chocolate surrounding them, like a moat of misery. And couples, well…I guess they could be dreading it too, pouring effort into a day which has no real romantic credibility to their relationship but has been drilled into our heads from a young age that this is a day to show just how much you love your partner. The stress of this day actually causes a rise in anxiety and puts pressure on relationships, research has actually shown that the highest number of break ups happen on Red Tuesday, the Tuesday before Valentines Day. Just a fun fact for you. As someone who has been single for the entirety of my life until a year ago, please rest assured this blog post isn’t to boast about my relationship but to honestly tell you how amazing the food was. I am not one of those people who posts selfies of myself and my partner giggling into each others faces like teenagers in a 90’s chick flick. But at the same time, props to my boy for choosing an awesome place to eat, he’s a good one.
This restaurant probably adds a little more flash than my usual posts, it’s a little more fancy and definitely a lot more pricey – but totally worth it. The venue is gorgeous, the entrance is ambiguous, placed on the corner of a building with a small corridor leading down some stairs, where at the bottom you are greeted by the concierge who will take your coat for you and take you to your seat. Leading you through their huge open plan area where the bar is located with modern sofas and seating, following a gold and grey colour palette – then through to the dining area where you’re seated onto a half moon shaped table. The seating plan is very different to anything I’ve seen, the tables look as if they were oval shape and split in half then separated to fit in a Teppanyaki (Flat Iron Plate) and two chefs. Each table holds 8 people and you are directly facing another, 8 which has a slightly eery feel to it before the chefs join the table. Staring at a bunch of other couples in anticipation of your food is odd when they’re total strangers. Another element was that the music was oddly upbeat for such a dim room which had such an ardent atmosphere but this would all come together once the chefs started.
We took our seats between two crazy, young couples. One couple so young they didn’t have any alcohol within arms reach and definitely spoke of their school peers the entire meal. Voices were kept low and the atmosphere was intimate – perfect for valentines day. We had one server to our table who catered for our drinks and explained the Valentines Taster Menu to us, we’d be having all 5 of the starters (joy) and had the choice of either mains from Menu A (Teriyaki Chicken, Black Cod with Miso Sauce & Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms) or Menu B (King Prawn with Sesame Sauce, Filet Mignon with Mushrooms or Cod and Grilled Lobster Tail) and to finish an Ice Cream Sponge Cake. I clearly chose Menu B, seafood is my favourite thing to eat out and it feels kinda fancy – I also wanted to try Filet Mignon as to this day I haven’t tried a steak I like. Plus it’s one of those things I’ve only heard of in rap music – the title itself just makes me sing that Lil’ Wayne song in my head. I’m going off topic. My partner chose Menu A, for gains.
So, the thing with Benihana is that everyone on your table starts their meal at the same time, as of course you all eat your starters together which are prepared by the kitchen in time for the chef to come out and prepare your mains. We started with Benihana’s own Onion Soup which was light and aromatic, a perfect appetiser, and then on to a crisp salad with homemade ginger dressing which really cleansed the palette. Next was a cute heart-shaped soy sushi with avocado, best sticky rice ever. Then the chef came in to prepare the Prawn, Courgette and Onion Volcano which turned out to be this impressive show of slicing the onions and piling them to the shape of a volcano, cranking the Teppanyaki to max and adding God knows what to create a blast of fire which pretty much threw me off my seat. But very impressive all the same. The lobster and prawns were delicious and very filling when paired with the egg fried rice the chef had prepared for us earlier, I was stuffed by the time my steak arrived. Now, the filet mignon was lovely but I’ve decided that steak just isn’t for me but from my boyfriends reaction it was excellent and blew his sirloin steak out of the water.
The next hour was filled with lots of impressive knife juggling, flipping bowls with a variety of cutlery, catching eggs in hats, super speedy chopping and shaping food into various valentines shapes – we couldn’t keep our eyes off him. Our chef was so fun and interacted with every one of us, it was such a fun dining experience – not only was the food good but you also realise that you’re not just paying for the food but also a show and a damn good one at that.