The Unvegan

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A Benihana CES

Everything looks good behind a Sapporo.

In Vegas for CES, I was lucky enough to be invited out for a little lunch at Benihana at the Hilton of Las Vegas. I had never heard of anyone going to Benihana for lunch (outside of The Office), but I wasn’t about to turn it down. If you don’t know Benihana, you’ve probably been living under a rock, but as a Japanese steakhouse, they cook in the teppanyaki style, which involves cooking on a huge griddle that also happens to be part of the table. For lunch they were cooking up steak, chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, onions and peppers, plus a salad for a set price of $24.99. This was actually a really good price for both Benihana and Vegas in general, so after ordering a Sapporo, I was ready to eat.

A little upset my meat is sharing the grill.

The chef came out and started working his magic. The chicken came first because that was going to take the longest to cook, but soon enough came the shrimp and the veggies. I was a little disappointed to find out midway through that our chef wasn’t going to do any fun cooking tricks with the shrimp or onions. Usually there’s a shrimp flip into the hat or an onion plume, but we were treated to none of that. Apparently they don’t do that for lunch. I was a little disappointed, but if I wanted a show in Vegas, Benihana wasn’t exactly going to give me the best anyway.

There’s the steak I was looking for.

The chef dished out the shrimp and then the veggies, which I politely declined. Finally, the best part of the meal came out: the steak. It looked delicious and well-marbled. There was actually a full steak for each person at the table and he cooked them to order. During its short cooking time, I downed my shrimp by dipping it in the couple sauces we had been given. One seemed to be a sesame kind of sauce and the other was a salty ginger sauce. Both added a different touch to the shrimp and tasted pretty good. When I was done, both the chicken and steak were ready for eating.

That meat is just what I needed.

And both were damn good. The chicken was nice and juicy, and although it didn’t have a ton of its own flavor, it tasted really good in the sesame sauce. The steak, though, was definitely the highlight of the meal. It was juicy and tender and had been cooked just the right amount. It even tasted great in the ginger sauce. On its own, the steak probably would have made the meal worthwhile, but coupled with the chicken and shrimp, this meal was definitely a great deal.

I’d definitely head back to Benihana for a meal like this at a price like that. I was a little disappointed that the chef didn’t have any fun with the food, but the food made up for it.