Sunday, August 5, 2012

Benihana Nights

While I normally don't like to review chain restaurants, I had to make an exception for Benihana. Not because of the food (although it is delicious), but because of tradition. My good friend and successful cosplayer CourtoonXIII turned 21 today, and I've been accompanying her on her birthday dinners every year for the past 8 years. 

The lovely CourtoonXIII, always ready for a photo op

This year was no exception, and while many restaurants have hosted this birthday shindig in the past, we usually end up at Benihana. It's a family favorite, and a complete spectacle for those of you who haven't been before.

Since it was Courtoon's 21st, American custom dictated that she order an alcoholic beverage. After a long and trying perusal of unfamiliar alcohol names, we collectively decided she should try the basic Benihana punch - basically a classier version of jungle juice.

Of course, there's also the benefit of taking home this nifty ninja glass. 

Once the drink orders were placed, the feast began. For those of you who haven't been to a Benihana before, the 5-course meal includes soup, salad, fried rice, shrimp appetizer, scrumptious veggies, your main course, green tea, and dessert. I suggest wearing an elastic waistband...

Once the chef arrives at your table, this event truly becomes dinner and a show. Knives fly, food becomes animated, and shrimp tails end up in water glasses. 

Mickey Mouse rice!

Onion Volcano

More food than I could ever dream of eating in one sitting

And it certainly wouldn't have been a birthday dinner without the birthday dessert!

Make a wish!

Regardless of the venue, birthday dinners are some of my favorites. They remind me of an earlier era where dining was a festive celebration rather than a quick break in-between driving home from work and getting the laundry done in the evening. By the end of the night, we all lefty stuffed, happy, and thankful to be in such good company. 

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