Banzai prides itself as the “biggest teppanyaki buffet restaurant in the world.” Hearing a bold claim like this makes me both skeptical and excited. I knew I gotta check it out! Just in time, together with blogger friends, we had lunch here yesterday.
Banzai: The Great Teppanyaki Theater in Seaside Boulevard has a colossal area of 1200 square meters and a maximum seating capacity of 300 people. True enough, this place in the vicinity of SM Mall of Asia just beside Buffet 101 is huge! Bringing Little Tokyo in the heart of Metro Manila, Banzai started its course of business last February 2014 and opened two worlds in one go: freshly cooked a la carte and signature Japanese cooking on one hand and unlimited eating on the other. Let’s see how their food has fared on my taste test.
Review of Banzai: The Great Teppanyaki Theater (SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City)
Banzai’s interior design is another one that reminded my sister and me of restaurants we used to design in Restaurant City (Facebook app). If you’re also familiar with the game, you may recall that there are plenty of Japanese-inspired items such as lanterns hanging down from the ceiling, the Japanese room dividers and zen-like plants and indoor decors. Those have great similarity with the items displayed and put together in Banzai Japanese Restaurant.
Banzai features a modern setup with the following food stations: Teppanyaki, Sushi, Sashimi and Rolls, Pizza, Takoyaki and Kaniyaki, Gohan, Noodles and Ramen, Yakitori and Grill, Tempura and Tonkatsu, Salad, Desserts and Beverages. I liked how organized each is arranged. Each station exuded a unique appeal that separates from the rest. There are some spaces that are intended to be really blank to showcase minimalism.
There are also functional areas such as the castle, sumo arena, restrooms, cashier, reception, Dotonbori, Nautilus and the trick art gallery where guests can borrow Japanese costumes and pose as a sumo wrestler and/or geisha against the fanciful and playful backdrops.
Customers may choose where to be seated from the different kinds of seating available across the entire dining room. We preferred seats at the side of energetic walls (lights are turned on at night which give a livelier ambiance).
Banzai prepares food the Japanese way: food are cooked upon request and there’s no warming of dishes. This is not the typical buffet restaurant where food entrees are ready to be taken by the diner from the heated trays. Rather, customers are to select and order food from the selected stations. They may either watch how it’s cooked while engaging with the cooks as they prepare or wait at their table until food is ready to be served.
If there are way too many people in queue though, I suggest going for the second option. In that case, a number card will be given to the customer, and the staff will deliver the plated food to the table. Cooking time is relatively quick, so there’s no need to worry about long waits.
I commend the staffs in the stations for being very friendly and accommodating. I’m not speaking for myself alone; as I stood there in the middle of the buffet stations, I also observed how they treated other dining customers. Yup, they’re consistent in giving warm service all throughout.
What’s even better is that there’s no additional service charge in Banzai. Thumbs up!
Banzai features quite a lot of Japanese food choices. Since I was not able to munch on everything given the time (I had to go back to work immediately for a scheduled meeting) and limited capacity of my digestive system :lol:, I’d just be sharing here a rundown of my favorites.
First off the bat was the Spicy Tuna Salad. Admittedly, I’m not a salad freak but the combination of salad and tuna plus the mayonnaise in this starter dish tasted like heaven. It can be best compared with the version of Omakase. I declare that this is the Spicy Tuna Salad of my dreams, and maybe of yours as well when you get to try it.
Next up: okonomiyaki, kaniyaki and takoyaki, which to me pretty much had the same taste, topped with a riot of condiments. Okonomiyaki is like “Japanese pizza,” a thick pancake filled with bits of seafood and vegetables. On the other hand, takoyaki and kaniyaki are made in the form of balls. Still hot from the pan, these balls had me reveling in the fried, battered goodness as they deflated into soft innards, with crabmeat and octopus at the core. The inside remained mostly gooey, while the outside had a little crisp.
A Japanese restaurant will not be complete without the sushi platter. The sashimi-topped round of rice (tuna and salmon) is quite possibly my single favorite food item in the world, when it comes to Japanese cuisine. And oh yes, I like the tamago sushi as well. The varieties of Banzai’s sushis are nothing special but are also nothing short of savory.
For teppanyaki, I had ebi, squid and salmon. The freshness and harmony of flavors left me deeply sated. I appreciated the food more as I became witness to the process of preparation. The seafoods’ tastes were amplified with the inclusion of the vinegary, pungent and citrus-flavored ponzu sauce and the chili sauce with sesame edamame. Super yummy!
Soft drinks, iced tea, juices and iced Milo are available at the Beverages station. Since I dislike soda and synthetic fruit juices, I walked to the coffee machine located at the Desserts section instead and pressed Caramel Macchiato (hot) for a warm coffee boost and a layered taste of deliciousness. The drink was infused with cream, rich caramel and low sugar. I’d like to take this machine home any day.
Ah, desserts! Everything was a picture-perfect sight. ♥ The green tea flavor in the Mini Matcha Cake was not too deep or potent. With right amount of bitterness, it played off with the bitter and fruity flavor of the Chocolate Tart which felt light—a reason to follow it up with another… Much like the green tea cake, the Red Velvet Cake was made with layers divided with lightly sweetened whipped cream. Fluffy and intensely intricate.
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
You might not want this for lunch or dinner every day, but as a reasonably priced meal with lots of variety, Banzai: The Great Teppanyaki Theater is one of the best-valued options you can have.
Lunch rate on a weekday is at PHp 699; dinner rate on a weekday is at PHp 899; and lunch/dinner rate on weekends and public holidays is at PHp 1088. Banzai charges for leftover food though (PHp 1288), so be sure to finish everything you take. Children whose height is below 4.5 feet are charged with PHp 499 each, while those whose height fall below 3.5 feet can enter and eat for free. Birthday celebrants can eat for FREE during their birthday week (3 days before, day of birthday and 3 days after) as long as they’re accompanied by 3 full-paying adults.
Now, I’m still excited and skeptical—but not anymore on how and why Banzai claims itself as the biggest teppanyaki buffet restaurant in the world, but on how all the food I’ve yet to try (like the various flavors of Japanese ramen and some more teppanyaki) could fit into my stomach in my next visit!
With hefty, super-filling portion of quality and authentic Japanese food, I can just close my eyes, take a bite and suddenly imagine I’ve made it in Japan. 🙂