Eat with Me: Benihana – Irving, TX

I’m not sure there is any restaurant rappers love more than Benihana. There are probably about 10 rap songs that mention the rice slanging establishment. I’m currently visiting one of my best friends in Dallas, TX. She typically celebrates her birthday at Benihana, and has always wanted me to check it out. Between her and Big Sean I knew it was something I had to do before I left.

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Environment/Pricing

There were families dining around us, celebrating events and birthdays. My friend told me they have a birthday coupon that gives you $30 off your meal. I think that’s a generous amount, but the small print requires you to use it during the week, and you also must pay for a full meal. Basically, you can’t come alone. Someone in your party has to pay for a dish. You could get a cheaper meal, but if you get seafood, fried rice, an appetizer, or drink you’ll spend an average of $35/person.

I don’t know if it was just me, but everything in the restaurant felt greasy. The bathroom doors, chairs, and plates. I went while there was still some daylight, so maybe it just exposed the restaurant a little more. I noticed more than what I would have if I just went out for a night of drinks.

You may also want to make a reservation. We made one for 5:30PM. We arrived at about 5:10PM. They didn’t seem busy, but we still had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated.

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Entertainment

Our chef’s name was Carlos. He didn’t say much, but mildly entertained my god daughter who was overjoyed at watching Carlos cook in front of her. It wasn’t too over the top. She had seen the “show” numerous times and we were there for an early dinner on a weekday. It sort of felt like catching the matinee show for a highly anticipated movie.

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Food

I ordered the chicken hibachi. It came with an onion soup, salad with ginger dressing, a small shrimp appetizer, vegetables (zucchini/onions/mushrooms), chicken fried rice, and cubed hibachi chicken. Carlos did the usual tricks that you’d see at any other hibachi restaurant. The onion train, eggs spins, and utensil hand work, and also entertained us with a new way to serve chicken fried rice. He molded the mountain of rice into stick figures. The chicken fried rice he prepared came at a $3 surcharge. At other hibachi restaurants it usually comes with your meal – free of charge. After agreeing to pay the $3 fee I was surprised to find the portion of rice I received was small. I usually have tons of food left over, but I found myself having to save my rice for over 30 minutes to eat with my chicken. The rice was seasoned perfectly and had great flavor it was hard to stop eating once it was on my plate. I admit it took a long time to receive the other half of my meal – the hibachi chicken. Once I received it I was kind of disappointed. The chicken was dry and had little flavor. It’s also important to note their “yum yum” sauce tasted store bought. That was disappointing.

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Overall the experience was fairly average. I would return, but I can’t say it was a grand fine dining experience. Also, not quite sure why so many rappers even name drop it. Benihana isn’t unlike any other hibachi restaurant (Kobe Steakhouse, Kanki) that I’ve gone to. The prices, dining environment, and experience is pretty much the same. I admittedly thought it would be a little different since it’s been a little hyped up, but once you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all.

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