HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Save me from the horror that is Benihana. I need a PLAN B fellow hounds....stat.

Dear Chowhounders:

bessech you fellow hounds to aid me in my time of need. My cousin is visiting from Australia and has requested one of our family dinners to be at Benihana!! The last time I went to Benihana was because of a girl, she also really liked white zinfandel and Medieval Times. Hey, lust is blind.

This is a tradition I started with my sister and LA cousins years ago. One cousin and I used to do these extravagant Mexican meals, but soon others took turns and.......wel, it was about the family time, not necessarily the food. We then tried restaurants for a while, great, but, one cousin is a vegetarian, another never dines better than Hungry Man and Jackin the Box, another has a million sensorial issues, which just left the other cooking cousin and I.

So, my fast food eating, Hamburger Helper slingin', Boone's Farm drankin' cousin wants to go to Benihana.

Do you have a teppan grill rec for me that can sate his need for flash and frivolity, and let me also dine with dignity? Hey, I'll go to Benihana with a smile for my cousin, but.....hey, can't knock me for tryin.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Tears dropping for you SG

    1. I feel your pain. There is a Yamato in Encino that I've eaten at some years ago. It's been a very looonnng time since I've been to a Benihana, but my impression was that Yamato was clearly better.


      Also, recently opened in Encino is Hokkaido Seafood Buffet. This is an ayce place with a huge variety of buffet items but also includes a Benihana style teppan grill area. Would not really satisfy if your cousin wants to sit, eat and watch the cooking, however.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bob Brooks

        Yeah, he wants the show for sure. He has no taste buds at all, deadened by years of salt, low fructose corn syrup, and preservative abuse from packaged foods. When I stayed with him hunting for a place to buy years ago he made margaritas with a bottle of San Matias Gran Reserva anjeo tequila I'd brought back from Tepatitlan, Jalisco. At the time you couldn't get it here and he used MARGARITA mix.

        1. re: streetgourmetla

          Oh oh oh!

          SO sorry about the mix travesty. OW.

          Good luck on finding a place!

        2. re: Bob Brooks

          we used to go to Yamato, moreso for sushi, but it's a much better alternative to Benihana, IMNSHO.

        3. You can all cook for yourselfs at Gyu-kaku.

          1. my deepest condolences .
            at least they serve alcohol there. . .

            2 Replies
            1. re: westsidegal

              Well, bottoms up, westsidegal. I will start drinking at home around 2pm that day.

              1. I have not eaten there yet but have gooten good reviews from those who have.

                Mori Teppan Grill
                120 W Stocker St, Glendale, CA 91202

                1 Reply
                1. re: Hughlipton

                  Great, Anyone? Do they have a silly knives n spatulas show?

                2. If you're talking about La Cienega... you can go right across the street to Gyu Kaku. OR Head east to Koreantown and go to ChoSun Galbee. YES there are more down and dirty and possibly authentic Korean BBQ's, so CH'ers don't rag on me... but since this is an alternative to Beni's I think this would be the best choice.


                    1. re: wienermobile

                      I would love to do Park's or even better, Dom Dae Gam, but ......ok, I will ask if just seeks an interactive....ah. Man the guy is in town and want Benihana. Effin Benihana.

                      1. re: streetgourmetla

                        Maybe you can steer him to one of the Moroccan places with Belly Dancing instead? Then you can slip the dancer a bit of baksheesh and she'll flip a piece of lamb from her naval onto her bosom? ;-D>

                        1. re: Servorg

                          He's not the Kiiinda guy that would be tempted by belly dancers and bosoms :) Maybe I'll hire a belly dancer to go to Benihana for me.

                    2. Try the Garden Grill at the Kyoto Grand Hotel in Little Tokyo.

                      Same type of teppan grill show as Benihana, but better food.


                      9 Replies
                        1. re: Obessed

                          Any Yamato is worst than any Benihana. Only thing they buy that's not pre made from Mutual trading company (Japanese food vendor for people who don't know) is cheap quality meat and seafood. Every sauce, tempura, gyoza and anything else is either from a bottle, can or frozen.

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          Yeah, I saw this looking around. Same show? OK. How are the prices compared to Benihana's? A guy that dines at Jack in the Box everyday and splurges on a jar of alfredo sauce is not exactly a big spender. Yeah...this is the splurge. I didn't see price info on the website, but thanks ipsedixit and obessed. I'm going to use the location as a carrot. My Southbay cousins were complaining about driving to Encino. Looking good!

                          1. re: streetgourmetla

                            I've heard the Garden Grill is very good, but I think it could cost twice as much as Benihana. Menu lists the beef as USDA Prime-no prices listed.

                            1. re: monku

                              Found a menu for the Garden Grill, don't know how current it is.
                              Fixed priced USDA Prime beef starting at $69.
                              I say if he wants Benihana, don't waste your money on the Garden Grill...he might opt for the US Kobe Beef course at $115.


                              1. re: monku

                                There is great teppan place in West LA but it's secret restaurant where you need to go with someone who knows the owner. It's one of the best teppan place in LA. I went last year with one of my Japanese friend and it was spectacular (little pricey).

                                1. re: Bobthechow

                                  Technically, Totoraku is a yakiniku restaurant, not teppanyaki.

                                  Even if the OP could get in, if his cousin really wants the teppanyaki show, Totoraku won't cut it.

                            2. re: streetgourmetla

                              Garden Grill is definitely on the pricey side, so yeah, if your cuz isn't into quality and only wants the show, then Beni might be your best bet ...


                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Benihana fried rice can be addicting...I've seen parties ordering two or three orders.

                          2. Korean BBQ is a good option: Parks BBQ, $43 Wagyu beef and all the sides

                            1. It's not a knives and spatula show, but what about a Fogo de Chao or another good churrascaria? The slabs of meat being walked around and the giant salad bar are a bit of a show. And the meats definitely will appeal to the Hungry Man/Jack 'n' the Box crowd.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Jwsel

                                No argument here. I go to Fogo de Chao at least every 3 months. I would even do Gauchos Village, they have SAMBA DANCERS, and a great after party with live samba, dancing, and a real Brazilian party vibe. Caipirinhas can cure any short comings at their buffet.There is usually good local talent during dinner playing Bossa Nova, like Katia Moraes.

                                I would love for it to be Fogo de Chao, Park's, Don Dae Gam, Gaja, a million other places. But, my cousin isn't very open-minded, nor adventurous.

                                Churrascarias are definitely high entertainment in my book. They're a party.

                                1. re: streetgourmetla

                                  Too bad. I know several eaters who definitely fall into the not open-minded or adventurous category, who love Fogo de Chao. I just explain that it's a carnivore's dream come true.

                                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                                    ok, then.
                                    it's clear what you need to do.
                                    go to fogo de chao for lunch that day and eat and drink yourself silly.
                                    then, go to benihana with your cousin for dinner.
                                    make up whatever excuse you want for not wanting to eat.
                                    yes, it will be a waste of money for your meal, but at least your taste buds will be spared.

                                2. I have your solution, SGLA...New Kingswood Teppan Steak House in San Gabriel. I have looked at it a whole load of times while at the now defunct Green Village.
                                  I cannot tell you that I have tried it but my research looks promising. And you can get Taiwanese Hot Pot at the same time!


                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                    Alright, my hopes are not completely dashed here. Anyone have any experiences here?

                                    1. re: streetgourmetla

                                      I've been there once, with my relatives (we're all Chinese/Chinese American). This was many years ago and I don't remember much, though I do recall my cousins talking up some "volcano" that indeed turned out to be as neat as they played it up. It was some sort of pile of something, shaped like a volcano, and the chef guy put something over the hole.. and after a moment, he lifted the thing up and the "volcano" let out a dramatic amount of steam. So in the blur of my horrible memories, I do recall a very fun "volcano." I also vaguely recall that the place is Chinese/Taiwanese, not Japanese (if that makes any difference).

                                      1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                        LOL! Having been to Benihana more times that I care to admit because of business reasons, that is a standard trick.... it's done with the onion rings... LOL!!


                                        1. re: Dommy

                                          Oh lordy I'm such a dork! Hahahaha, shows you how often I go to these teppan places. Man, I'm such a dumbass.

                                          But you know, after reading through this entire thread and the OP's comments on others' suggestions, it sure sounds to me like Benihana may in fact be his best choice. : \

                                          1. re: klyeoh

                                            They slice the onion and stack it on the grill and steam comes out like a volcano.

                                    2. I enjoy good teppan (read: I do not enjoy Benihana), and I would highly recommend Garden Grill at Kyoto Grand Hotel fka New Otani Hotel. It is not cheap, but it is very tasty.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: pinpei

                                        I don't know if you have a specific area you're looking for, but I'd highly recommend
                                        Sambi of Tokyo in Downey. (8600 block of Firestone) It's almost like 2 restaurants in one. There is the main dining area with beautiful lighting and a piano bar...and another area with teppan. The food is excellent and not too overpriced.

                                        1. re: JazzBeau

                                          Hey JazzBeau, thanks for the help. I spoke with another family member attending this dinner and it appears that my cousin just has a thing for Benihana. He could care less if there are better teppan grills, and probably doesn't even know that it's even teppanyaki.

                                          I will use all these great reccs in the future should someone want to go to have the teppanyaki experience. Once I found out he was dying to go to Benihana and couldn't wait I just let it go. We'll have a great time and he'll have a great meal.

                                          1. re: streetgourmetla

                                            Good call, SGLA.

                                            "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith"