Aoki in Dadeland Continues Benihana Legacy
Chances are you've heard of Benihana, the teppanyaki chain founded by Rocky Aoki that spread like wildfire across America. But did you know that his son Kevin Aoki is the owner of Doraku, that Kevin's brother is superstar DJ Steve Aoki, and that the new teppanyaki joint at Dadeland Mall is the latest addition to the restaurant family? True story.
Photos by Carla Torres Steak or lobster sauce? The lifelong teppanyaki battle.
Aoki opened its doors at the end of April. Short Order was invited to check it out. Photos after the jump.
See also: Ten Best Happy Hours in Miami
Adjacent to Bobby's Burger Palace and Earl's inside Dadeland Mall's new wing that's quickly filling up with eateries, Aoki prides itself on being health-conscious and obsessed with details. Take, for instance, the hostess stand, which is a giant tree, if a tree grew sideways. The decor transports you to an ancient Japanese-style village.
Courtesy of Andrea Hyatt
Aoki is a tribute to Kevin's father and a way to continue the legacy Rocky Aoki began with Benihana in 1964 when the first one opened in New York City. But it all began with Kevin's grandfather, who had a little café in Tokyo by the name of Benihana. During World War II, he'd ride his bicycle into Tokyo to get his rations of sugar and tote them back to his customers. After Rocky visited the States for the first time, he was convinced he wanted to take hibachi-style cooking and a bit of Japanese culture to America. He named his establishment Benihana. It was an immediate success and one that spawned many imitators.
Seared hamachi with crisp chilies and yuzu ($14.50)
Rocky Aoki passed away in 2008, but Kevin has kept the restaurant empire going with Doraku, which he purchased on Lincoln Road in 2006 after he left Benihana. Though Doraku thrives today, that wasn't always the case. "It was kind of rough for a while at first," says Aaron Hyatt, vice president of operations, who opened Doraku with Kevin. "We started doing happy hour and giving really good value for under $6, and things really started taking off. Today we're the busiest location on our end of Lincoln Road."
A popular dish from Doraku, the surf 'n' turf rolls up shrimp tempura, cream cheese, and asparagus and tops it with seared steak, spicy aioli, and eel sauce ($13).