Last week Benihana launched a Wagyu Festival Menu as an affordable way to eat what is considered to be an expensive luxury ingredient.
Russell and I were invited to their Kings Road restaurant for an exclusive first taste, and we have to say we had such a fun evening!
If you haven't dined at Benihana before, you should! The restaurant provides a private chef to every table who creates the meal in front of you on a 360 degrees celsius teppan grill, making the experience interactive and memorable. Great for celebrations, the chefs are super skilled - just look at the below video!
We started our evening with Kagami-biraki, a ceremony performed at celebratory events where the lid of the sake barrel is broken open by a wooden mallet and the sake is served to guests - obviously I volunteered to take a swing!
Throughout the evening we enjoyed sake served chilled, room temperature and warm. It was interesting to see the difference temperate had on the taste of the drink, and whilst I enjoyed the crisp chilled sake Russell opted for the warm sake that left a lingering taste.
We were then seated around the teppan grill and our chefs began preparing our meal. We were pretty excited as Wagyu isn't something we get to eat everyday as it's often presumed to command a very high price. The beauty of the Wagyu Festival Menu is that it has been created so everyone can experience a taste of this melt-in-the-mouth beef in different ways - as sushi, fried with rice and on it's own.
Supplied by Tajimaya, the Wagyu Beef the restaurant uses has an unusually large amount of marbling that makes it extremely tender. The Benihana teppan grill style of cooking suits Wagyu perfectly as the marbling benefits from quick cooking at a high heat, and as we were seated so close to the chefs we could smell the sweet fragrance given off when cooking (due to increased amino acids).
The meal started with a seared Wagyu beef sushi followed by our favourite dish of the evening: Wagyu Heaven (Wagyu, Foie Gras and Truffle Oil). For only £4.80 this flavour explosion was a absolute delight!
After the rich dish we enjoyed a light salad with ginger dressing to cleanse the pallette, and were then treated to fried prawns, courgettes and onion. The chef made an onion stack known as the onion volcano which steamed and then set on fire - if you visit the restaurant you need to request this as it's pretty impressive!
After this we were served egg fried rice with Wagyu beef, and to finish the chef cooked the biggest Wagyu steak I've ever seen! The meat has a texture unlike anything else I've ever tasted, and knowing it was important from Japan made it feel even more special.
Fuelled with great food, drink and lots of interactive fun involving fire, the evening was laid back and filled with lots of laughter. I'd love to return for a birthday as the staff and chefs do everything they can to make your experience one to remember.