A few days back I posted about Benihana opening up at the Avenues and yesterday night I decided to pass by with Nat and try it out. The service wasn’t too bad for a restaurant that’s just been open for a few days and the staff were really friendly. The restaurant itself is made up of islands and bars with a grill in the middle of each one. You sit around the grill and the chef will come to your table and prepare the food right in front of you which makes things entertaining. It’s actually why I prefer sitting at the bar in Japanese restaurants in general, since you can talk to the chef and watch them put your dish together. The problem with my experience last night though was with the food, it was disappointing to say the least.
We ordered beef negimayaki for starters followed by an Orange Blossom maki and a Hibachi Chicken. The negimaki arrived looking good and was probably the best thing we had there even though I prefer Maki’s negimaki which has a richer teriyaki sauce. The Orange Blossom was very ordinary, wouldn’t order it again. Now the Hibachi chicken which is basically grilled chicken, that was the worst. The chicken was very chewy (I could swear it was undercooked if not raw) and tasted terrible. Even after I had the chef add some more teriyaki sauce in hopes of improving the taste it didn’t work. I tried to dip it into the sauces that came with the chicken but it was hard to figure out if they were actually making things worse or not. Nat only ate one piece of chicken and left the rest while I needed my protein since I’m on a strict diet and forced myself to eat my whole plate (I can do that) but the after taste was really bad. Even the rice and the veggies that came with it tasted bad AND were under cooked. Once we left I considered picking up a frozen yogurt from Pinkberry even though I hate frozen yogurts but I just needed something to get rid of the aftertaste. A few moments later we ended up at Chocolate Bar ordering the gooey chocolate cake (bye bye diet).
I shot the two videos [video one and video two] above of the chef preparing our meal. Benihana are known for the live shows they perform when preparing your dish so I was expecting to see [This] but ended up with the above. Would I go back to Benihana? No I wouldn’t. Their sashimi and maki’s are pretty cheap (KD1.5 for 5 pieces of Salmon sashimi for example) but there are two other Japanese restaurants at the Avenues, Wasabi and Maki, and I would prefer either one of those to Benihana.
The above post is a reproduction of Mark Makhoul’s original post on his blog 2:48AM.
Mark, a blogger living in Kuwait, is now the subject of a $18,000 lawsuit filed by the Kuwaiti franchisee of global Japanese restaurant chain Benihana. Mark’s crime? Posting a mildly critical restaurant review on his blog, 2:48AM. A frank but even-handed review, even if negative, does not warrant legal action and that this is not how global brands like Benihana should engage with bloggers.
Despite a massive outcry on blogs, social and mainstream media, both Benihana in Kuwait and Benihana of Tokyo, the New-York based franchisor, have steadfastly refused comment and the court case is, as of the time of writing, still set to commence on 8 March 2011.
Benihana in Kuwait first deleted critical comments from its Facebook page and then blocked anyone who had been outspoken against them. Benihana of Tokyo has not replied to a single request made using the contact form on its website, despite a promise to return comments within 24 hours. Neither has it responded to calls on this from bloggers and journalists.
We are defending bloggers’ rights to freedom of expression.
We believe that suing a consumer for expressing an opinion is totally unacceptable. We believe that a company arrogant enough to ignore the very real expressed concerns of thousands of consumers is arrogant enough to think it can press ahead with this suit – one which would set a very worrying precedent for Middle East bloggers. We want to send a clear message out – that today’s consumer has the right to express an opinion online – whether that be satisfaction or dissatisfaction – without fear of bullying and litigation from companies.
Consequently, today, 14 February 2011, bloggers are posting a copy of Mark’s original My Benihana Experience post to their own blogs and Facebook pages.
In an effort to highlight both Mark’s predicament and Benihana’s apparent keenness to sue bloggers, friends of Mark and fellow bloggers around the world can join us in re-posting a copy of Mark’s original Benihana post today. They sued him – will they sue all of us?
It’s not too late to join us! The day is young…