For fans of Japanese cuisine, Tianjin is very well supplied. For example, there is the Japanese owned and operated department store Isetan, which offers a great variety of sushi and boxed Japanese meals. There are also a fantastic array of teppenyaki restaurants around the city. The majority of these are situated in the Shanggu restaurant area of the city and provide an 'all you can eat' menu for 150rmb per person. Whilst this is slightly pricey by Tianjin standards, for those looking to spend the whole evening with friends, it can actually prove pretty good value.
In terms of menu and style, most of these restaurants are much of a muchness. The food is cooked on a giant hotplate in the middle of the dining table, with one chef serving between six and eight people. The food focus tends to fall in three key areas. The first is on meat. Most of the restaurants boast a great variety of steaks, such as filet and sirloins, as well as lamb and select cuts of beef. The second is seafood. There are plenty of shrimp, mussels, fish and even delicious cuts of eel. The third is sushi and sashimi, with most of the restaurants offering 20 or 30 different varieties.
Whlst it may be difficult to differentiate the majority of these restaurants based solely on the menu, there are some clear differences that make Benihana the best of the bunch. The first is the service. In many of the restaurants, particularly at busier times, it can take an absolute age to get each dish you have ordered. And, at some venues, the portions tend to get smaller the more you order as the staff try to save money. However, Benihana steers clear of such shady pratices ensuring that service is fast, friendly and fulsome. The second difference is the quality of the food. Each of the chefs are well trained to deliver the dishes perfectly, with the steaks - cooked to order - and the lamb particularly excellent examples. Benihana, as with most teppenyakis, is the perfect location for a large group of friends to get together. Each of the large hotplates can conceivably seat up to ten people. And, with the 150rmb diners do not just get food, but also unlimited beer, plum wine and sake.
For anyone with a hearty appetite, teppenyaki is a fantastic choice for a great evening out. And, thanks to its quality and service, Benihana is the perfect choice amongst Tianjin's teppenyaki restaurants. The one downside, though, is that the staff do not speak any English. This means that ordering amounts to little more than pointing to pictures on the menu. It is also probably worth noting that none of the Teppenyakis are a particularly prudent choice for vegetarians as the meat is very meat oriented.
Finding Benihana is relatively simple. It is situated in the Shanggu restaurant complex, which sits between Tianjin TV Tower and Tianjin Water Park. There are many teppenyaki restaurants in this area. However, Benihana is easy to distinguish as it is the closest to the gates of the Water Park.
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