Look closely and you can spot a Japanese-inspired facade sitting quietly along the west side of Toronto’s majestic castle, the Fairmont Royal York.
Traditional Japanese shingles fan their way above the sidewalk while wrapped bamboo and glowing lantern welcome the peckish into one of Toronto’s most iconic restaurant institutions.
Tip toe down a red carpet-wrapped staircase and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by flashing flames, which are immediately followed by the “ooooh’s and ahhh’s” of a hungry and enthusiastic audience.
The History Of Benihana Teppanyaki
Hiroaki Aoki or has he’s more famously known Rocky Aoki, opened America’s first Japanese teppanyaki restaurant in 1964. A legendary character, his passion for Japanese culture was only out stripped by his passion for business.
He’d eventually race speedboats and fly hot air balloons under the Benihana name, but it all started with giving Americans their first taste of Japan. Today, there are over 70 Benihana’s around the world and 100’s of copycat’s paying homage to the unique dinner theatre he created.
The Fairmont Royal York offers a home to the only one of its kind in Canada. It originally opened at the city’s most historic hotel on June 20, 1973.
Benihana Japanese Steakhouse Experience
Guests feast in a dinning room whose interior is inspired by the Japanese farmhouse. Instead of using conventional kitchen ovens, Benihana’s highly skilled chefs present and prepare all entrées at a ‘hibachi’ table, around which, up to seven guests are seated.
A fast-paced performance of chopping and juggling creates an exciting teppanyaki-style dining experience. The chefs here are equal parts comedian (the one-liners they’ve rehearsed are top drawer) and culinary magician. I realized I hadn’t enjoyed an enthusiastic and entertaining meal in ages. It’s amazing how quickly an adult can gush into a wee child amazed by the wonder of whirling chopsticks and the burst of flames.
Benihana is a perfect spot to celebrate with your special someone. After my friend Dale announced that he’d be moving to New York City I knew a visit here would be a memorable and entertaining way to celebrate his big move.
We started our Japanese bacchanal by ordering a trilogy of sake’s and two large cans of Sapporo. After sipping ourselves silly our taste of Japan peaked via an edible escape featuring soft shell crab stuffed sushi and two steaming plates of crispy flamed hibachi chicken teriyaki, prawns, lobster tail and chateaubriand. Finish off your savoury soiree with a sweet treat, the restaurants signature rich and creamy lemon cheesecake topped with juicy mandarin oranges and plucked with a petite umbrella.
The Menu At Benihana
Dinner at Benihana can be a bit more pricey than at other Japanese restaurants or teppanyaki spots, but where else will your chef juggle eggs or flip a shrimp into his hat while you watch your dinner get prepared. Expect to pay between $50 to $80 a person for a multi-course meal and drinks.
- Beni Edamame: Sesame, Sticky Garlic Soy
- Agedashi Tofu: Flash Fried, Green Onions, Shredded Nori, Bonito, Dashi Soy
- Vegetable Tempura: Asparagus, Shiitake Mushrooms, Sweet Potato, Red and Green Peppers, Broccoli, House Made Tempura Sauce
- Shrimp Tempura: Three Crispy Jumbo Shrimps and Asparagus, Togarashi-Coconut Dipping Sauce, House Made Tempura Sauce
- Rainbow Ceviché: Chef’s Selection of Diced Fresh Fish, Sesame Ponzu Dressing, Salmon Roe, Daikon Wisps, Wonton Chips
- Chicken Karaage: Benihana Marinated Chicken Thigh Coated with Seasoned Rice Flour and Served with Togarashi Cream Sauce
- Soft-Shell Crab: Lightly Floured, Deep Fried, Served with Ponze Sauce
- Dynamite Calamari: Tempura Dusted, Shichimi Togarashi,Mango & Shiso Gastrique, Wasabi Cream
- Tuna Tataki: Seared Ahi Tuna with Japanese Chilies Served with Ponzu Sauce
- Sushi Sampler: Tuna, Salmon and Shrimp Sushi with California Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll
- Sashimi Sampler: Selection of Fresh Fish (3 types) with White Radish and Wasabi Mustard
- Vegetarian Saishoku: An Assortment of Seasonal Vegetables
- Teriyaki Chicken: Chicken Breast Grilled with Mushrooms in a Special Housemade Teriyaki Sauce
- Hibachi Steak 8oz/10oz: New York Strip Steak and Mushrooms Hibachi
- Teriyaki Steak 8oz/10oz: New York Strip Steak and Mushrooms Hibachi Grilled in a Special Housemade Teriyaki Sauce
- Filet Mignon 8oz/10oz: Centre Cut Tenderloin and Mushrooms Lightly Seasoned and Grilled with Garlic Butter
- Hibachi Ahi Tuna 6oz: Ahi Tuna Lightly Seasoned and Grilled with Garlic Butter
- Benihana Garden with Shrimp: An Assortment of Seasonal Vegetables with Tiger Shrimp
- Ocean Treasure Tiger Shrimp and Scallops: East Coast Scallops and Tiger Shrimp Served with Garlic Butter and Lemon
- Benihana Delight Teriyaki Chicken and Tiger Shrimp: Chicken Breast Grilled with Mushrooms and Tiger Shrimp in a Special Housemade Teriyaki Sauce
- Benihana Special Hibachi Steak 8oz/10oz with Lobster: New York Strip Steak Paired with East Coast Lobster Tail
- Samurai Treat – Filet Mignon 8oz/10oz with Tiger Shrimp: Filet Mignon and Tiger Shrimp Grilled to Perfection with Lemon and Garlic Butter
- Shogun Feast Filet Mignon 8oz/10oz with Lobster Tail: Centre Cut Tenderloin Served with East Coast Lobster Tail with Garlic Butter and Lemon
- Benihana Splash Hibachi Ahi Tuna* with Lobster Tail: 6oz Ahi Tuna Lightly Seasoned with East Coast Lobster with Garlic Butter
- Sakura Sushi and Sashimi Combination: Nigiri Sushi (3ps), Sashimi (6ps) and a Variety of Tempura
- Matsu Sushi: Nigiri Sushi (8ps) and Shrimp Tempura Roll (5ps)
- Kaede Sashimi: Fresh Sashimi (18ps) Served with Steamed Rice
- Chirashi Sushi: Chef’s Choice of Assortment of Raw Seafood on a Bed of Seasoned Rice
Finding Benihana In Toronto
Getting to the Fairmount Hotel is easy. From the TTC or GoTrain you can walk from Union Station in under 3 minutes and because of the newly renovated Union Station terminal it’s possible to walk underground to the Fairmont if you want to stay out of the rain or snow.
Behihana is located on the west side of the Fairmount Hotel, but if you get lost or are in a hurry simply ask the legendary service staff at the front doors of the Fairmount who can point you the way with a smile.
If your planning a party or have a large group, getting a reservation is strongly recommended. The chefs work hard to entertain everyone at the table and knowing your party size can make a huge difference in the quality how and where your table is seated.
Benihana Japanese Steakhouse Hours
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:30-10pm
Sunday and Monday: closed
Benihana Japanese Steakhouse Reservations
100 Front Street West, 416-860-5002