Benihana is frozen in time

This guy can catch shrimp tails in his hat and tell jokes at the same time. Inconceivable!
Photo: Rick Lax

The Benihana chefs impress me.

It’s not their knife flips or their behind-the-back shrimp tail hat catches; it’s their jokes. They tell the same ones again and again and again—thousands of times per year, perhaps—and their delivery never weakens.

Disney’s Jungle Cruse Tour Guides could learn a thing or two from these guys.

As a kid, Benihana was my favorite restaurant. It think it was the ginger salad dressing—that stuff is like orange crack. Well, last weekend I visited Benihana (at The Hilton) for the first time in over a decade.

I was delighted to see that nothing had changed (save my chef’s “No Shrimp For You!” Seinfeld allusion; that one was new). I don’t even know if they brushed the rock garden.

When the meal was through, my dinner companion, S., asked me, “Where do the jokes come from? Does one person write them and share, or is it a communal thing?”

Those are good questions, and if anybody has any theories, I’m all ears. I didn’t ask our chef where the jokes come from because I’m positive he would have given me another one-liner in response, not an answer.


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