New menu and a wave of change at Benihana - Beach Rotana.

Benihana. I am sure you have heard of the restaurant. An egg flying and being caught in a chef's pocket. Balancing that same egg on a knife before using it in the fried rice. Flames enthralling young and old. Benihana is essentially America's take on Japanese food - they have added the entertainment element to it. Theatre and drama. Beach Rotana in Abu Dhabi has been entertaining guests for a long time with this fun restaurant concept. 

However, with the hotel's new Complex Executive Chef at the helm. Christophe Gillino, things are about to change. These changes were revealed at the hotel's monthly series in which they engage a selected group of media figures and share with them what is happening in the hotel - The Chef's Table Series. It was humbling to be part of this evening.

An intriguing and welcome addition to the menu is undoubtedly the so-called melt-in-your-mouth underbelly of  the most sought after tuna for sashimi, bluefin tuna, also known as Toro maguro. It is this ingredient that makes its way onto our selection of starters. The selection of sashimi also includes yellow tail tuna, or hamachi as it is properly known. Of course these are types of sashimi I have enjoyed at the two top Japanese restaurants in the city, but its inclusion at Benihana really signals its intent to offer serious Japanese food. 

This is clear in the next couple of starters - having toro is one thing, but it is what you do with it that matters. The Toro Trio  of Toro tartare, Crispy sushi rice topped with spicy Toro, and Toro tataki served with ponzu wasabi sauce are very good exponents of the direction Benihana is moving. The toro, it goes without saying, is an exceptional gift to us from nature, but it is what the chefs have done with it that will make me want to go back to Benihana. Head Chef Roy has done something wonderful with it. 

The dessert, nicely presented and featuring Banana tempuraCheesecake dumplings, and Green tea ice cream that I rate in my top 2 experiences in the city, will no doubt excite you. 

Chef Micahel duly entertained us through the evening as he engaged us throughout the teppanyaki part of dinner - the 'show'. But what excited me most was Chef Christophe's vision that Benihana should be something for everyone. A guest should be able to come here for good Japanese food. The 'show', so much a part of the Benihana fabric, will still be there and will continue to have its followers. For someone like me who cares about the food and not the show, my goal should be to go to Benihana and have a great meal in some quiet corner. It is about taking the food experience up a  notch that has gripped me! 

The evening was much more than the 'dinner and a show' for me. It was about that new direction the restaurant is heading. A menu should be able to stand up on its own and not rely on fireworks outside the window to ensure that diners have a great evening - thrilling times ahead if this can be sustained. I think it is a great way forward and in keeping with the regeneration in F&B that was started around 2 years ago with Rodeo Grill and a year ago with Finz. Now to Indigo!

The Essentials

Beach Rotana, Abu Dhabi
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