Dining at Benihana Downey

Full disclosure: This post was sponsored by Benihana. All opinions are my own.

When I turned 17, my family celebrated my birthday at Benihana. Ordinarily, we celebrated at home with a favorite dinner, but that year we did something special and headed to the famed teppanyaki restaurant. My mom, dad, sister, aunt and grandma were all there for my special day, and we had a memorable meal that I’ll never forget. Until recently, it remained my one and only visit to the restaurant. As a starving college student, it was simply out of my budget and in ensuing years it fell off of my radar. Recently, Benihana opened in Downey and I was invited to come by for a meal. I figured it had been much too long since my last visit so I grabbed my mom and sister and headed for dinner.

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The newly opened Benihana is located at The Promenade at Downey and includes a sushi bar and cocktail lounge. I booked an early dinner hoping to beat the crowds but was amazed at the masses waiting for a table. Apparently, the area has been long wanting such a restaurant! After a short wait, my group was led to our table and assisted by our friendly server. Since I had been underage on my prior visit, I knew I had to try a drink from their extensive cocktail menu. I opted for the Exotic Mojito – a blend of rum, passion-fruit puree, pineapple juice, lime and mint. It was a tasty tropical twist on the traditional mojito and the passion-fruit and mint paired perfectly.

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My family and I were pretty hungry when we arrived so we decided to grab an appetizer and ordered the Pan Fried Beef Gyoza Dumplings. They arrived quickly and paired nicely with the accompanying spicy soy sauce. They were just the right amount to hold us over until our main meal. The teppanyaki meal featured multiple courses with the main protein entree. I decided to try the best of both worlds with the Emperor’s Feast – a combination of chicken breast and filet mignon.

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Soon our chef, Oscar, arrived to prepare our meal and while he set up the grill, we enjoyed soup and salad. The Benihana onion soup was fantastic. It seemed so simple, with a light broth and bits of onion and mushroom, but the flavor was absolutely delicious. On a cold night, I could make a meal of it alone.

One of the highlights of Benihana is the food preparation-all entrees are made right before your eyes. Oscar put on quite a show preparing our table’s various meals. At Benihana most tables are shared and we had another family dining with us.

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When Oscar was finished cooking, I had a full meal of chicken fried rice, sautéed vegetables, chicken and steak. Everything was cooked to perfection and filled with flavor. The filet mignon melted in my mouth and the chicken fried rice was so filled with garlic and that I was in heaven. It was so much food that I had to take much of it home (which made for a delicious lunch the next day).

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I did manage to squeeze in a scoop of green tea ice cream because I can’t resist it whenever I see it on a menu. It was a refreshing close to the meal.

Soon enough it was time to go and I was left with another memorable meal at Benihana. Only this time, I won’t wait so long to go back.

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