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Benihana, Concord CA

August has been to Benihana before, but Zach never.  For so many years he had heard about it, and it seemed that everyone held the place in high esteem around these parts.  We thought we’d finally take the plunge and give you our opinion.  Sorry, folks, but it’s not going to be pretty.

onion soup

onion soup

All entrees come with a set variety of sides, starting with onion soup. This was bland and one-dimensional in flavor, like water with green onion flavor.  The mushrooms were raw, and the soggy wonton strips at the bottom did nothing for it.

scallop tempura

scallop tempura

The scallop tempura was not part of our entree sides, we ordered it separately.  On first sight looked appealing, however first touch was very greasy.  Because the size of the scallops was so varied yet they were all cooked for the same amount of time, some were undercooked and some were overcooked.  The zucchini was overcooked and very mushy, but the carrot and onion were good.  Nothing, though, was salted properly.

"benihana" salad

“benihana” salad

The salad was sad – nothing more than a Safeway bag of American mix, to make a comparison.  They added grape tomatoes, but otherwise the mix was bland.  The dressing was interesting: Zach tasted ginger predominantly, with sesame, lemon zest, and onion.  The texture of the dressing was the drawback, as it was both watery and gritty.

garlic butter on appetizer shrimp

garlic butter on appetizer shrimp

The next preset appetizer was shrimp, but Zach said, “Does this place think they’re an Italian restaurant?”  He was surprised how much garlic butter was added to the shrimp.  When our table chef began, he flung a spatula that almost hit the lady next to August celebrating her birthday.  An egg for our table mates’ fried rice nearly splattered on another guest celebrating his birthday.  Our table chef overcooked the shrimp seen here, so we ended up with chewy bits of garlicky rubber.

hibachi vegetables

hibachi vegetables

Overcooked, mushy zucchini and undercooked white onions that still had inedible exterior skin left on them.  With more garlic butter.

"deluxe treat" (apparently a regional dish, as it's not on the corporate menu)

“deluxe treat” (apparently a regional dish, as it is not on the online corporate menu)

Zach ordered the “deluxe treat” with lobster tail and beef filet, which was grilled with mushrooms.  And garlic butter.  The lobster was cooked fairly well – not perfect, but not overcooked, so it was still slightly juicy and sweet.  And garlic buttery.  He asked for a medium steak and it came out more medium-well.  Everything was undersalted, and the quality of steak was low for the price paid.

"seafood diablo" (another regional specialty)

“seafood diablo” (another regional specialty)

August ordered the “seafood diablo” because it had scallops, calamari, and shrimp with grilled teriyaki udon noodles.  The description sounded good.  However, “diablo” seems to be a code word for “spicy.”  She thought it was “diablo” because Concord is in the shadow of Mt. Diablo.  The server told her it would be spicy, so August asked for mild.  She even conferred with the table chef when he came out that she wanted it mild, because spicy and August have never gotten along.  But, it was far from mild.  She was embarrassed, honestly, because she couldn’t eat it.  Sadly we had to send it back.  Even if it hadn’t been spicy, though, she probably would have sent it back because all of the seafood was overcooked and rubbery.

Overall, this was a disappointing experience.  Our table chef was messy (sorry about the pictures, all the food was served sloppily), but the server and the manager we spoke with made up on the business end.  It was also a help that we sat with two other lovely couples and had a great time commiserating over the food.  We understand why high school students think this place is great for pre-Prom dinner, but outside of that, it’s very overpriced for what you’re getting.

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Posted on January 28, 2013, in Restaurants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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