Benu is a restaurant run and owned by Corey Lee. Corey Lee is the former Chef de Cuisine at French Laundry and David Chang said his game is like no other. David Chang said he aspires to be like Corey Lee in a Lucky Peach article but realizes he would never be any where near Corey Lee’s level.
- 3 Michelin Stars since 2015
- #89 on the 2016 World’s 50 Best Restaurants
Benu was last on my list of US 2015 3* Michelin restaurants and I’m glad it was last. The restaurant and kitchen was absolutely gorgeous. I have to say it’s easily in my top 3 restaurants in terms of decor and ambiance. The simplicity of the layout and the courtyard made you feel like you were not in the city. It’s a very Asian influence designed. The kitchen was spotless and all white. We were given a tour of the kitchen and had the honor of meeting Corey Lee; we were only two tables of the night to be given a tour of the kitchen. He was a really nice guy, had jokes and really down to earth.
The service was definitely 3* Michelin standards. Benu had its own way of delivering dishes and explanations to the dishes. The staff was all nice, professional and from all walks of life. They had a sense of humor too and joined in on our jokes. They seemed like normal folks doing keg stands on the weekend. \
Now, the food. Benu only has one tasting menu and it was absolutely superb. It’s a very Asian influence and some Asian classics appear on the menu, which Chef Lee likes to refer to as American food. Corey Lee pretty much takes classic Asian cuisine to the next level. By next level, it’s your Asian grandma’s favorites with a modern twist. Let’s say this. I would rank Benu in my top 3 dining experiences in the United States. If anything, it would be #1 based on only the food. My favorites:
- Lobster Coral Xiao Long Bao – Din Tai Fung brought Xiao Long Bao to the mainstream. Benu takes it up another level and brings Xiao Long Bao to fine dining. There are two stand outs of the XLBs for me, which are Hutong in Melbourne and the original Din Tai Fung. However, the texture of Benu’s XLBs was amazing. It literally melted in my mouth and soup was the perfect temperature.
- Cucumber, Peanut, Black Truffle – This was amazing. No seriously. It was simply amazing. Easily top 10 dishes I’ve eaten in my life. It was a bun served with a black truffle pate sort of spread. It was the perfect combination of bun and spread. The complex flavors of the spread with the soothing familiar taste of the bun was a party in anyone’s mouth.
- Shark Fin – Shark fin with Dungeness Crab, Jinhua ham, & Egg White. The silky slurpee flavors of this was divine. The complex flavors and the texture of the dish was mind bogging. Shark Fin soup is one of the staples of a Chinese menu and Corey definitely out does himself with this dish and I can see why its considered his signature dish. The dish was very comforting and reminded me of coming home from school and the smell of my mother’s cooking.
Overall, Benu takes some classic Asian dishes and adds steroids to it. It’s one of those situations like the Apple iPhone. There were always smartphones around but Apple took it to another level. It’s like how Ryugin in Tokyo does it’s modern take on traditional Kyoto Kaiseki. You have to appreciate the classics with a modern take on the dishes. In my opinion, I would have to say Benu easily falls in the top three US Michelin 3* restaurants. If anything, it would be an easy argument for #1.
- Service - 9.5/109.5/10
- Presentation - 9/109/10
- Flavors - 9/109/10
- Decor - 9/109/10
- Ambiance - 9/109/10
Benu provides one of the best dining experiences in the United States. Chef Corey Lee has dubbed his cuisine as American food even though it draws its influences from the Chef’s past travels around the world. Benu’s minimalist dining room along with Michelin 3 starred service makes it one of the best dining experiences I’ve experienced.