Benihaha – London, UK

I was looking forward to being taken out for Teppanyaki by a new client.  I had been to Sen Nin in Islington a few times before and had really enjoyed it.

Benihana at Piccadilly is a few minutes’ straight walk from Piccadilly Circus.  It was a Wednesday night and we didn’t expect it to be all that busy.  Of course I had forgotten this was central London and the restaurant seemed almost full on arrival.

Luckily we had booked, however we had arrived about 20 minutes early.  We were invited to have a drink in the bar.  We took the four remaining bar stools and waited for a barman to become free.  We waited and waited and then waited some more.  There were two staff serving behind the bar and they kept looking at us and then looking away; we weren’t even acknowledged.

After what seemed like an age of eating horrible tasting nibbles (I don’t even know what they were), a barman made eye contact and an enormous smile.  That may have worked 10 minutes ago however the problem with first impressions is that you only get one.

We opted for some cocktails (it seemed like the right thing to do) that were in the process of being made when we were informed our ‘table’ was ready.  We were told that the drinks would be brought along to our table shortly.

We were seated around the grill and presented with the menu.  I didn’t like it.  I don’t mean I didn’t like the food, I just didn’t like the way they had done the menu.  Pick one meat (or two if you pay more), pick a rice, (nice rice is more), pick some starters (they cost more too), pick some sushi (they cost a lot more and are tiny).  Perhaps I have been spoiled but Sen Nin have a nice easy to understand menu – you pay a set amount, get a choice of three meats, nice starters, bit of Miso soup and even a dessert.  I felt abused before I had even ordered my food.

We ordered some steak, chicken and lots of fish along with some tuna rolls, prawn tempura and some Miso soup.  We also enquired as to the whereabouts of our cocktails which hadn’t arrived yet.

Cocktails arrived (albeit one short) eventually and the starters were served.  Our group (4 of us) deemed them “OK” at best – there was simply nothing to note about any of them (other than the price).

We ordered some beer and waited for the chef.  He arrived and while he vaguely attempted to smile, you could tell his heart simply wasn’t in it.  He went through the routine without any real gusto; there was a small onion ‘volcano’, a little bit of rice throwing (at us) and the odd egg flip, but it wasn’t even half-hearted.  The atmosphere just wasn’t here – and neither was our beer.

The mains all got eaten (although for the first time ever I wasn’t full) and we decided to leave, just as the beers arrived…

We watched with some amusement as a different staff member came out to clean the grill – this just seemed a bit lazy really; what a terrible job that must be.

For 4 cocktails, 4 beers, a couple of starters and the mains we paid almost £350.  This was a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a meal that was ‘OK’ at best.  There was no atmosphere and the service was terrible.

If you’re in London and want some Teppanyaki then head over to Sen Nin in Islington.  It may be a short tube ride away but it is a million miles better.  Sen Nin also has a branch in Camden which I haven’t yet tried.

Check out our full review of Sen Nin here.

Benihana (Piccadilly), 37 Sackville Street, London, W1S 3DQ.  Website


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