After the company teased its return to Chicago in September, fan anticipation has built up like a volcano for Benihana. Some chains resonate with the public, and the tabletop theatrics of a chef preparing Japanese-style food finds appeal to many diners (including some unnamed chefs working at some of Chicago finest restaurants). Tonight is opening night inside the John Hancock Center downtown as Chicago will once more hear the sizzle of Benihana’s steaks after a decade’s absence.
Take a look around and customers will find 22 teppanyaki tables equipped with hibachis. There are more than 100 Benihana’s across the country. Since the restaurant debuted in New York in 1964, the menu’s changed. Diners will find a sushi bar inside the Chicago location, as raw fish is much more popular now compared to 53 years ago.
Sure, Chicago has other teppanyaki restaurants, and city dwellers can commute to the suburbs to visit other Benihana locations, but there was something missing within city boundaries since 2007 when development pushed Benihana out of its Streeterville location at 166 E. Superior St. Ten years later that void is filled. Benihana has returned.
Benihana at the base of the John Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan Ave., (312) 780-0110, open 11 a.m. to 11 p..m on Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Happy hour goes from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.