Benihana

Japanese
$$$$ ($15-$24)
'

Editorial Review

There's a sushi bar at the main entrance, off one of the lobbies of the Air Rights Building, but think of that as a pass-through. All the action is downstairs at the grill or tepanyaki tables, where white-coated chefs armed with sharp knives and good humor perform daily.

Here's a place to really party, and you see all types whooping it up, from couples celebrating silver anniversaries to 10-year-olds marking another birthday.

Most everybody goes for one of the combos ($20.25 to $35), pairing items from a list that includes steak, chicken, shrimp, lobster, scallops, calamari and a variety of vegetables.

Come early (5:30 to 6:30 p.m.) Monday through Thursday evenings and you can get a great deal -- a choice of combination dinners for $10.75 to $13.25, which makes for a savings of at least $7 per dinner. This is the time to bring a whole table's worth of friends. Otherwise, the early hour is apt to find you all alone at a table and missing half the fun.

Weekends are when things really rock here; you get the full effect on a Friday or Saturday night. Surprisingly, they do a brisk lunch business, too.

From the hot towels passed around as you're seated to the special kid's menu, Benihana is out to please. If you're got a special request, speak up; your chef is just inches away.

-- Kathleen Stanley