It’s high steaks at the AVANI Atrium Bangkok.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
Who doesn’t love a good teppanyaki? Derived from the Japanese words teppan, which refers to the metal plate on which the food is grilled, and yaki, which means ‘to fry or grill,’ for most people, both words together simply translate to ‘a smokin’ good time.’ Bangkok’s favourite teppanyaki grill, Benihana, is the self-proclaimed “original Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant” and it has been perfecting the immersive dining experience for decades all around the world.
Their AVANI Atrium Bangkok location, in New Petchaburi Road, is their most central location in the city, perfect for those looking to elevate their celebrations with some interactive fun, good food, and lively atmosphere – you know you’re always likely to run into someone you know there celebrating a birthday or two! Now offering a weekend brunch, it’s the easy choice to make when you want to impress some guests, or are looking for something different to do with a group.
Like any Benihana restaurant, their signature black and red is the striking theme of the day when you walk in, with a sprawling space that is divided into tables for groups, each with their own metal plate for the grill; the star of the show. Atmospheric lighting and dark fixtures automatically ensconce you in an intimate, party-like ambience, while yells of delight from guests and teppan chefs showing off their skills filter through the air, creating a festive feel.
If you can, I’d recommend opting for a private room, which is where we were ushered to when we walked in. Separated from the rest of the restaurant by sliding doors, each of the rooms are dominated by a backlit screen depicting cherry blossoms and a capacious table that can easily fit a convivial group of 10, and once the doors are closed, you can be as raucous as you like within, with no one else the wiser.
FOOD AND DRINK
Their weekend brunch (THB 1,500++ per person for one selection of meat on the grill, THB 1,999++ per person for all-you-can-eat and the full selection of meats) runs from 12pm to 3.30pm every weekend, and features everything we already love about Benihana’s teppanyaki grill, plus more. First, we were served appetisers in the form of a beautifully-plated and individualised selection of sushi and sashimi, with the latter, especially, fresh and perfectly sliced; a refreshing beginning to the meal. If you’re still feeling peckish before the main event, you can head over to the generous spread of seafood on ice in the centre of the restaurant, where you’re treated to an embarrassment of riches in the form of more fresh sushi, prawns, oysters, and a range of sauces to season everything to your liking.
After we’d whetted our appetite, we were introduced to Teppan Chef Suriyawut, the restaurant’s Head Chef who’s both gregarious, hilarious and larger than life. As he heated up the grill, he broke the ice with jokes that left us clutching our stomachs, and showed off his knife skills to much applause, the latter of which he quickly put to use in dicing and slicing up a selection of vegetables before the meats – onions, cucumber, broccoli and more were soon sizzling on the grill and releasing aromas that had our mouths watering.
For the ‘single selection’ teppanyaki option, you have a choice of Australian rib-eye steak, Norwegian salmon, Prawns – large and juicy in the best way – Chicken steak, and Pork, while you can opt for all when you choose the all-you-can-eat option. For the steak eaters among us, the rib-eye was seared to perfection and tender; we enjoyed ours medium rare but for those who do prefer a more well-done grill, the chef takes your preferences into account. The chicken steak is always a classic, delicious and moreish in equal parts, and for those who prefer redder meats but don’t eat beef, the pork is equally flavourful – don’t make my mistake of telling the chef you want yours rare, however, as you’ll just end up with figurative egg on your face (before the literal egg later on in the show). The salmon was, of course, cooked perfectly so that it was both flakey and not dry, but my favourite would have to be the prawns, doused in butter and aromatic in the extreme. I could’ve eaten an entire plateful if push came to shove!
Before the end of the grill we were given the chance to participate in Benihana’s signature ‘egg show,’ where guests are invited to flip and catch an egg over the grill – easy in theory, much harder in practice, as we learned to our chagrin. My advice? Gain momentum, don’t hesitate, and please don’t throw it towards your fellow guests, even if the chef is egging you on.
If you’re still not completely stuffed after your interactive meal, you can treat yourself to their dessert buffet, which is also included in their weekend brunch selection; an array of delights that range from fruit cocktails, macarons, cupcakes, crème brûlée, and my favourite, a mini chocolate fondue fountain with plenty of dipping options.
While drinks are not included in the weekend brunch package, I would highly recommend treating yourself to a refreshing fruit shake or two, or even better, any of their signature cocktails – after all, if the grill’s going to be (literally) lit, why not be a little lit yourself, too?
Trying out their seafood on ice selection – as a fan of shellfish, their selections are both flavourful and fresh in the extreme, especially the oysters, and you won’t lack for choice among the sauces on offer.
BENIHANA AVANI ATRIUM
1880 New Petchburi Road,
Bangkok 10310, Thailand
Weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday, from 12pm to 3.30pm
Tel: 02 718 2000 www.benihanathailand.com/avani-atrium