Not Benihana... but similar in certain key ways...
My four year old daughter received a free meal at Benihana as a reward for completing the local library's reading program. Fine. Great. She asked to eat lunch there yesterday. Fine.
She loved it. LOVED it. LOVED IT!
I did not. Lunch took well over two hours, the menu was very short, and the food was dull.
Is there a comparable dining experience (with a certain amount of pagentry) available, that provides better selection and tastier food? What my daughter wants is a chef to prepare a meal right in front of her... what I want is a meal that we can really enjoy...
You will not find a fast Teppanyaki place (one fast food version in LB went under), so always expect an hour plus more on a return trip.
My place of choice is Shogun in Pasadena (other locations). They have a better variety than Benihana, and imho are superior.
Many sushi rolls to offer, we usually get Crunchy rolls to start and its good for the novice sushi eaters.
Lunch is your best bet and value (til 3pm), and you will not leave hungry if you choose wisely. Kids portions are available. The Fried rice is awesome, as is their Pink sauce (one of the two they serve you). Add the sauce to the rice! feel free to ask for extra garlic butter on the rice.
For the pageantry, ask for Jackie aka Al Pacino (usually later lunch times after 2). he will not disappoint. Daniel is also great for an excellent meal.
I'd also vote for Shogun (I've only been to the one in La Verne, but I would imagine that the one in Pasadena is pretty much the same). In fact, the little burgh of La Verne actually has two Teppan Yaki places: the aforementioned Shogun, and one called Miyabi (I prefer Shogun, but Miyabi is decent as well).
I remember haing a meal somewhere in the far reaches of the Valley at a place I believe that is called Yamato. It was very nice, almost a reproduction of Benihana but better food. Haven't been there in about 5 to 7 years. Give it a try and then post back. I'm glad your daughter liked the show as did my daughter when she was young. I considered it a step forward towards becoming a true Chowhound. I now am the proud parent of a 22 year old lady who will taste virtually anything and will eat all of her veggies like a good girl (lol).
NOT really "a meal that we can enjoy," but a place that will offer a chef preparing a meal for a lot less money than benihana is Hokkaido on pico.
it is a buffet operation that has two or three stations in which the chef prepares the meal to order.
weekday lunch is about $11 for adults.
this is an ayce place, so the quantity of food is unlimited, but the quality is limited.
tremendous variety of food available.
to leave there satisfied, the adults will need to play the food version of "where's waldo?"
Yeah, Korean BBQ was my first thought as well, but most of the placed I've been encourage (require?) self-preparation. I love that, because it places me in control... my daughter feels differently. From long experience (four years, at least) she doesn't entirely trust my food preparation expertise.
She was particularly enchanted by the man in the toque with the knives (and lasers... honestly... lasers... when did Benihana start encorporating lasers?).
Are there any Korean BBQ places with a chef or server on hand to assist in the preparation?