Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Benihana Bekkan, Nihonbashi (紅花別館)

Ages ago, You came back from lunch, gave me a card, and said "This curry place is really spicy! It hurt!" I didn't believe him, because Japanese people can't handle spicy food. But I remembered the place, because it's in a weird location where there isn't much else (north side of Eitai Dori between Nihonbashi and Gofukubashi). Last week Preacher came in saying "I just went to the most amazing curry place for the second day in a row!" so when we went out today, we went for 3. He says there can be long lines, but it was fine for us (11:40).

And lo, it's the bekkan of quaint teppanyaki specialist Benihana - the one that was probably synonymous in American minds with 'Japanese food' for 40 or 50 years after its 1937 founding (until 'sushi' took over). There are not a lot of Benihana outlets in Japan, which is not a great loss.

It's a teppan place, and like a good number of beef-focused shops, it feels tired inside (as if that carpet wasn't enough clue). The formalist attire of the staff doesn't compensate for the floor and wall coverings. But no worries, because we're not here for the steak. We're here for the brown crocks!

Those two guys in the picture above were there for the steak. They got a fillet and a sirloin between them, both big and good looking. This chef with the knife holster got busy on the other grill; unfortunately their air system seems to be top-notch, because we didn't even get to enjoy the smell of grilling steaks.

The mysterious brown crocks. They contain curry. This is what happens when you take some out and pour it over rice. Preacher recommends the chicken (Mayu, they say it's Lankan-style!), and I agree it's quite spicy, but in a rounded and interesting way that includes equally huge amounts of all spices, not just pepper. Nice stuff. You can also get shrimp, seafood (which I think was a green curry) or veal-spinach.

Any way you do it, it's actually a bit expensive. Comes with salad and free rice refills though.

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