This past weekend was my step-father’s 50th birthday. To celebrate we went to our timeshare in Orlando and had dinner at the Benihana on International Drive. I used to eat at Benihana in San Francisco’s Japantown all the time as a kid with my father, so I was excited to go to this Benihana and re-experience it. The tall hats, shrimp that goes in your pocket, umbrellas in your drink, koi fish, among other things are ingrained in my childhood memory.
My Mom made the reservations and we all arrived fairly on time. This location was pretty small compared to the one in San Francisco. The chefs also seemed to have shorter hats, though I’m not sure if this is different or I just have forgotten that detail since my last time in San Francisco. They had to separate our twelve person party in two, which sucked a bit.
I went with the Rocky’s Choice which includes steak and chicken among the other things served with most meals at Benihana. The chef was friendly…but really was the most disappointing part of my experience. Maybe he wasn’t trained enough, but every trick he tried to pull off failed pretty bad. He was quiet and all his jokes seemed forced. He dropped his cooking instruments during a trick and when he tried to do the popular shrimp in a pocket he missed and the shrimp just fell. After awhile I think we all got bored with him and started to look at my parents chef, little did I know that they were looking at the chef at the table next to them as well…It was also one of the shortest shows I have seen and we found ourselves eating our food instead of watching the chef do his job, which quite frankly is the opposite of how my visit to Kobe’s was when I went for my birthday last year.
The soup and salad were decent, but nothing to brag about. The chicken and steak were both bland and despite constantly dipping them in their ginger and mustard sauces, the taste just would not come. I tried their Orange Sorbet and really disliked it. After a few bites I was just poking at it. For $26 it is pretty disappointing to not be able to taste any flavor. I understand that most people visit these restaurants for the show, but since that wasn’t going to be any good this whole visit was pretty much spoiled. I will say, however, that that their green tea is quite good. Maybe the only thing I enjoyed there.
To make matters worse after the shows were over they came out to sing Happy Birthday to my Step-Father and my Mom and half of the party were in the bathroom. They came out of the bathroom to find that the singing was already over…that is not a great way to treat someone who made the reservation to go there in the first place.
Overall just a really disappointing experience. Reviews seemed favorable, but none of them seemed to mention these things. Most reviewers claimed that Benihana beats any other Japanese steakhouse such as Kobe or Arigato’s, but after this experience I have to disagree at least about this location.
Restaurant Name: Benihana
Address: 12690 International Drive Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (407) 239-7400