Benihana, Chelsea – The London Bloggers Dine on the King’s Road

Sep 20, 2013 by

Last Tuesday, a group of London bloggers were treated to an epic evening of cocktails and dining to showcase one of Chelsea’s best family-friendly establishments, Benihana.  The event was a huge success.  It gave the London bloggers a great opportunity to chat, but more importantly, it allowed Benihana to show off this well-kept secret gem for London family dining. 

I think of myself as a salty veteran of trying to find places to eat with young children in Central London, particularly on the King’s Road.  My kids are noisy, they tend to either fall down a lot and scream, or they tease each other and whine a great deal … loudly.  The small, intimate restaurants with cramped dining areas around Chelsea are just not our scene.  So when we find ourselves in Chelsea on weekends, in desperate need of a drink … I mean food, we usually end up feeding them grease and ketchup at the pub.  To my surprise and delight, Benihana offers families an attractive alternative to the usual suspects of Chelsea family dining as it boasts good food (no grease, no ketchup) great fun, a perfect atmosphere for families and a staff that genuinely wants young children to dine with them.

The doors to Benihana are somewhat innocuously located just down from Sloane Square tube station, next to Marks and Spencer.  You walk right off the King’s Road, down a flight of stairs and enter a soaring foyer showcasing a warren of sumptuous dining areas – the place is just amazing.  If you have a pushchair, the friendly staff will happily help you out; you can push the buggy (and the little ones) right into the handicapped toilets for a family toilet break where a nappy change is located.

forgive the poor quality photo – but here is the gang in the foyer

Back to the foyer, the 30 foot ceilings dwarf everything in the space; you are made to feel very metropolitan in the lounge area sprinkled with delicate-looking but comfortable cocktail tables, sofas and chairs.  The reaction from the bloggers was great; Monique from West London Mum’s comment was “this is like an American style restaurant – huge”.    Parents of lively children love this kind of space: their kids won’t crack their head on a table if they try walking unaided through the restaurant and if they make a fuss, they don’t disturb the entire crowd of patrons.  Jen from GoBaby App and Ann from Bloomsbury Babieswhere both thoroughly impressed with the staff, the food and the venue; Jen took particular note as to how baby-friendly and accessible it is.

The best part of Benihana for any family is the meal and show.  In case you are not familiar, the dining experience at Benihana is part performance, part great-tasting food.  The teppanyaki style cooking was invented by Rocky, the founder of Benihana in New York City in the 60’s.  You dine in front of a cooking surface where a chef skilled in teppanyaki not just cooks, but entertains you.  And how might this work?  Well,  Uju from Babes About Town, Nomita from Ebabee Likes, Dina from Kensington Mums, Janis from Really Kid Friendly, Lindsey from Urban Mums, Kerri Holland from Buggy Bootcamp Hyde Park and Janyne Harris from Monkey Music Chelsea had a great time applauding their chef’s antics with the flaming food.  I heard loads of laughter from the table of Jen Howze of Jenography, Maggy Woodley of Life at the Zoo,  Ali Clifford, and Jackie from Transatlantic Mum during the cho-cho train onion skit and knife juggling act.  Liz Burton of Miss Lizzy me and my Shadow , Jonathan Lloyd from King’s Road, Jane from Not a Notting Hill Mum, Alison Perry of Not Another Mummy Blog and Eloise Trippier of Monkey Music Notting Hill and had a riot trying to catch flying rubber eggs without knocking over our sake cups.   It is good fun for any age, but I think you can get a feel for where the appeal might lie for families.

For me, the healthy menu is the other main attraction to Benihana; the menu is only vegetables and rice with fish, chicken and/or steak.  There are no chips, sausages, mounds of refined white-flour pasta or pizza crusts.  It is wholesome food cooked from scratch right in front of you.  Plus, the kids LOVE the food – it’s fun to eat flying courgette.  It doesn’t hurt that the attentive staff not only warmly welcomes children, they cater directly to them.

 

The trade-off in terms of comfort and nutrition is that a meal at Benihana is going to cost more than a pub lunch.   If this blows your weekly budget keep Benihana in mind for special occasions.  Birthdays are a huge specialty of Benihana.  Whether you come in for a family meal or entertain the entire gang, the staff goes out of their way to make the event special with cakes, songs and a huge display on the wall of the fabulous foyer and cocktail area.  Starting from £12.50 per child they are fed miso soup, rice, cucumber roll, hibachi veggies, pudding and a fabulously prepared teppanyaki entrée. If you bring the gang,  head over to St. Luke’s Gardens after and old a treasure hunt in the climbing rocks if the weather permits.  You will have the easiest birthday party ever as the staff will take care of everything for you.

It’s not just a family venue, it’s a great destination for date night.  Kelly, Domestic Goddesque, recalled she had her first date with her now-husband at Benihana Piccadilly.  The Chelsea venue is fabulously glamorous in the evenings – you can have lots of fun dining and people watching.

Huge thank you’s on behalf of all the London Bloggers to the kind and attentive staff at Benihana, and especially Dieter Kemp, marketing director for Benihana UK.   We genially hope we are able to help tell the story about Benihana for our readers.

Read savvy marketing executive Shannon Eastman’s fabulously written post about the marketing aspect of this endeavour.

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1 Comment

  1. Fantastic review, Laura, really brought the evening thrillingly back to life. I was totally enraptured by Benihana and will be singing their praises in my write-up (coming soon). Well done for bringing us all together again too, can’t wait for another London blogger meet-up! X

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