What You Should Absolutely Never Order At Benihana

Is a trip to Benihana in order? If you want to experience Japanese–American cuisine while getting the opportunity to watch a performance to remember, then Benihana is the place for you. For many Americans, it was their first introduction to Japanese food, and while you may not find these exact dishes in Japan, the hibachi experience offered at Benihana is still something to behold. Does that mean that every dish at the restaurant is worth your time? Absolutely not.

Benihana does serve some delicious dishes, but others definitely wouldn't make our list of favorites. We've done the hard work of sussing out which dishes should be avoided so you can make the most of your time — and money — at the restaurant. The following appetizers, entrees, desserts, and drinks are not up our alley ... and we're going to guess that they won't be up yours either. Still, if something sounds good to you, give it a try! With such a wide range of dishes served at Benihana, there really is something for everyone. These are the ones we're not too keen on.

Benihana salad

If you've been to pretty much any hibachi or Japanese–American restaurant in your life, then you're very familiar with the Benihana salad. It's basically the same everywhere — the iceberg lettuce, the shredded carrots, and the assertive-but-somehow-not-spicy ginger dressing absolutely dousing all of the veggies. At Benihana, you get some red cabbage and maybe a tomato or two, but otherwise, it's a familiar salad you've probably had tens if not hundreds of times.

While we're appreciative of the extra produce you get when you order one of these salads from Benihana, it's still really, really depressing as far as salads go. Sure, it's just a small dish to keep your stomach from growling until your entrée comes out, but the flavors are so bland and all over the place that you'll want to push it to the side unfinished even if you have to wait 30 minutes to get your hibachi.

Of course, if you need some veggies in your diet and are looking for something green on the menu, this will do the job. But if you're on the hunt for a salad that will make your meal more pleasurable, enjoyable, or interesting, you're going to want to skip out on the Benihana salad completely.

Philadelphia roll

This one is more about our aversion to Philadelphia rolls in general more than it is about Benihana's specifically. But let's get real: If you truly want to enjoy a flavorful, artfully crafted salmon roll, you should never, ever combine it with cream cheese. We don't have to tell you that it's not something they do in Japan — that doesn't really matter to us. The real problem is that the flavor and texture of cream cheese is so overwhelming, it completely covers up the other flavors of the roll. Add in avocado and a tiny amount of bland cucumber, like you'll find with Benihana's Philadelphia roll, and you're getting a mouthful of mushy creaminess instead of the delicate flavor and firm, healthy texture of the salmon in the roll. The salmon is the expensive part, right? So why wouldn't you want to enjoy it?

If you love Philadelphia rolls, then by all means go ahead and order this dish. No judgment here! But if you're not a sushi pro and you're just ordering this roll because you think it sounds inoffensive, take it from us: There are better options at the sushi menu at Benihana — and pretty much every sushi restaurant you'll ever go to.

Benihana onion soup

Wondering what kind of soup you should get with your entrée? We suggest the miso soup not because it's the best miso soup you're ever going to have but because the Benihana onion soup is just not it. This soup, like the salad, is also just a starter, so we weren't expecting too much from it, but we were still disappointed when we took the first sip. The broth is pretty much downright flavorless — there's nothing interesting going on there. In fact, Irene Jiang of Insider described it as "mild, mushroomy water — a broth at best, and not a particularly exciting one at that."

We love starting dinner with a small bowl of soup, and we were glad to see that it was an option on the menu at Benihana. But it's not too difficult to get soup right, so it's a bummer when you don't even get to enjoy the brothy concoction you ordered. The Benihana onion soup isn't bad, but it's not good either. It's just ... there. Unless the onion soup comes as part of your meal, we'd suggest just avoiding it altogether.

Anything with "krab"

When you sit down at a restaurant and open the menu, there's one thing in particular that should raise red flags almost immediately. That thing is when the names of dishes are apparently purposefully misspelled. It's even more of a problem when that misspelled word is in quotation marks, and that's exactly what you'll find on Benihana's menu. There are several dishes that list "krab" as an ingredient. Well, go to the bottom of the menu, and you'll see why: Anything labeled "krab" on Benihana's menu is made with — you guessed it — imitation crab.

According to Healthline, imitation crab is, on the whole, worse for you than the real thing. In fact, they refer to it as "the hot dog of the sea." Basically, it's a bunch of blended-up fish parts, and it tends to have more carbs and fewer nutrients than actual crab. Then there's the taste: It just isn't that close to the real thing. It gets the texture down, sure, but the flavor of imitation crab is a sad replacement for succulent crab fresh from the ocean.

This may not be a problem if you're out somewhere getting $1 sushi. You get what you pay for, right? But considering that Benihana is relatively expensive for a chain restaurant, it feels like you're not getting a good value. For that reason, we avoid anything on Benihana's menu that contains "krab" in any form.

California roll

We're not the first ones to rail against the horror of the California roll, but we're going to reiterate it: It's kind of gross. If you don't feel the same way, that's completely fine — order your California roll with pride and enjoy every single bite of it. But for those just venturing into sushi territory thinking they're going to try something new and delicious, we have to warn you that California rolls are notoriously unappetizing — especially at Benihana. First of all, you already know how we feel about the imitation crab at Benihana, and this roll is packed with it. But instead of getting a whole chunk of crab, you'll have to eat it in what appears to be a mayo-covered, shredded form. Umm ... no thank you. The sad little bite of avocado you get in the roll only makes things worse: It offers no flavor and an unnecessarily creamy texture to the roll.

Benihana may not be known for the world's best sushi, but there are some sushi items on the menu that truly aren't bad. Unfortunately, the California roll isn't one of them, and we wouldn't dream of ordering it when we visit Benihana. If you want to get the best possible sushi experience at the restaurant, we suggest that you don't either.

Spicy tofu steak

Before we say anything else, we do want to commend Benihana for providing diners with a meat-free option. While it's becoming more common for restaurants to offer vegetarian and even vegan dishes on their menu, it's still exciting when you find one at a chain location. However, when it comes to the spicy tofu steak, we don't think you're going to be impressed — veggie or not. This tofu is cooked in a "spicy" sauce (that we don't find that spicy at all), and it's served with cilantro and scallions, which seems like a somewhat random pairing.

The texture of the tofu is all wrong. It misses the mark when it comes to crispiness, but it's not the soft silken tofu you might expect at a Korean restaurant. Instead, it feels like it's supposed to be firm but chose to be flabby instead. Then, there's the lack of flavor. When people say that tofu has no flavor, it's because this is the kind of tofu they're eating. We don't know why Benihana would choose to serve a tofu "steak" instead of just cooking the tofu some other way as part of a larger, more interesting dish.

Tofu appears in countless Japanese dishes that are actually quite flavorful, so there's no excuse for this sad, flabby tofu steak.

Sashimi sampler

So, what is sashimi, exactly? It means "pierced body" or "pierced meat," which makes sense considering that it's basically just slices of seafood. This seafood is often raw. While nigiri is a slice of fish with rice, sashimi is missing the rice altogether. Therefore, the focus of the dish is really on the quality of the fish. When it's done right, nothing is as sublime as good sashimi. The texture of the fish will be perfect, and you'll get to really indulge in those flavors as they play in your mouth from the first bite to the last.

But because sashimi all comes down to quality, it makes sense that Benihana isn't the best place to order it. While this chain restaurant serves some decent food, it's not well-known for its super-high quality or attention to detail. Therefore, it really falls flat when it comes to the sashimi sampler. When Irene Jiang from Insider went to Benihana to order the sushi sampler, she was given a somewhat sad-looking plate of snapper, salmon, and tuna. She said, "The sashimi looked clean and uniformly cut, although it lacked the fatty sheen I look for in raw fish. It tasted very fishy and was neither fresh nor fatty."

Our advice? Save the sashimi for a restaurant that cares more about flavor and presentation than Benihana does.

Edy's ice cream

There are plenty of dishes at Benihana you should avoid because they're just not that good. But when it comes to Edy's ice cream for dessert, that's just not the case. If you've ever had the brand before, you know that they produce some top-notch ice cream, and we're pleased to see it on just about any dessert menu. While you can only get chocolate or vanilla from Benihana, we think that it would be a solid option at most other restaurants. However, Benihana offers other desserts that are way, way better, and that's why we think you should pass up the Edy's in this case.

The winner of all the desserts at Benihana is undoubtedly the strawberry mochi. We were surprised to discover that this stuff is actually out of this world. It's not the best mochi we've ever had, but it's definitely a top-notch sweet treat to end your dinner with. Also, the green tea ice cream is a fantastic choice for when you want to indulge just a little bit, but you're already feeling super-full from the meal. The rainbow sherbet isn't our favorite, but it is more fun than plain chocolate or vanilla ice cream.

Take it from us: Benihana is a place where you should try to get out of your comfort zone and try something new for dessert. After all, can't you just have a scoop of ice cream at home?

Spider roll

Every once in a while, a fried roll (or a roll with fried elements) can be delicious. Sure, it may not be what you usually look for in a sushi roll, but who doesn't love the crispiness that fried food portends? Therefore, we're never going to write off a fried roll completely. But when it comes to the spider roll at Benihana, we beg you to think twice before ordering. Why? Because it's the blandest and one of the least appetizing rolls on the entire menu.

The fried crab isn't just fried — it's fried to absolute oblivion. The breading is thicker than the actual crab itself, and the result is a super-chewy, overly crispy mess that you'll struggle to choke down after your first bite. Even though they could've made things more interesting by adding some creative ingredients, they stopped at the addition of avocado. We don't have anything against avocado in general, but it's a pretty unfortunate addition to sushi considering it has almost no flavor and an unnecessary fattiness to it. All that delicious fat is supposed to come from the fish, not a tasteless green blob.

They also add in superfluous lettuce leaves that attempt to give the dish a pretentious air, even though no self-respecting sushi lover would rank this roll over pretty much any other roll on the menu.

Benihana punch

An amazing cocktail can elevate a so-so dinner into something special, and that's what we hoped for when we ordered the Benihana punch. It's a classic on the menu, and we figured that if something is around for that long, it must be good, right? Wrong, as far as we're concerned. There's nothing interesting going on in the Benihana punch — no punch to speak of. And we're not the only ones that felt that way. Irene Jiang for Insider wrote, "[The drink] was watery and tasted like punch made from a mix. I couldn't tell if there was even alcohol in it."

If we're going to get a watery, tasteless drink, we at least want to make sure it's going to give us enough of a buzz to forget about the mediocre food and drinks. The Benihana punch couldn't even do that for us. There are other, better cocktails on the menu, so you definitely shouldn't be ordering this one first (even if it comes with a take-home — also kind of problematic-looking? — mug).

Hibachi steak

Generally, the hibachi options at Benihana are a solid choice — it is what the restaurant specializes in, after all. But there's one hibachi option that we're not sold on, and that's the hibachi steak. The New York strip steak seems like it's of decent quality, but it's hard to cook a steak to perfection while you're also putting on a show. Therefore, depending on the chef who's working at the restaurant you're at, you could end up with a chewy, overcooked piece of meat. And since you're generally going to be paying more for a steak, you want to ensure you're getting something that's actually enjoyable.

We think that the spicy hibachi shrimp, spicy hibachi shrimp, and hibachi scallops are the way to go if you want to celebrate. Looking for a delicious cut of steak? We would encourage you to head to your local steakhouse instead — you'll likely get a better result there.

Las Vegas roll

Does it really come as a surprise that the Las Vegas roll at Benihana is nothing to write home about? First of all, it's deep fried, which made us dubious from the start. But as we've mentioned before, some fried rolls can be delicious, so we were trying to hold out hope. However, the Las Vegas roll simply did not deliver. The combination of avocado, cream cheese, salmon, jalapenos, and spicy sauce, deep-fried, was just too much. Again, the avocado and cream cheese really have no place in a sushi roll as far as we're concerned. The jalapeno just seems like a random addition, and the spicy sauce on top is overkill.

If you are a fried sushi aficionado with a deep-seated love for cream cheese and avocado-smothered everything, then by all means, give the Las Vegas roll a try. But for the rest of us? It'll have to be a no.