photo by Tatsuo Yamashita
When it comes to “Washoku (Japanese food)”, we have thought of sushi or tempura straight away without thinking, but lately, it seems like this stereotype has changed a lot. According to a survey of tourists from the USA, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, the most popular Japanese food is “meat dishes”. We tend to imagine fish dishes, but there are many meat dishes in Japanese cuisines such as wagyu steak, barbecue, and fried chicken which are very popular for both the Japanese and foreigners. Of course, there are numerous restaurants and diners of meat dishes across Japan. This column will introduce 5 must-visit eateries of meat dishes in Tokyo.
Ueno Ponta (Tonkatsu, Fried Pork)
Just a few minutes’ walk away from JR Okachimachi Station, “Ponta” is a well-known Western-style restaurant established in 1905. This restaurant has been loved so much by a number of intellectuals and celebrities and has been introduced through the media many times. They have all-year menus such as beef stew, fried prawns, and pan-fried pork, as well as seasonal dishes such as fried oysters. But the most loved dish here is tonkatsu (fried pork). The deep-fried pork with crispy batter outside and juicy inside is marvelous. There is normally a queue in front of this restaurant, but it’s worth waiting.
Address: 3-23-3 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Access: 3 minutes from JR Okachimachi Sta., Tokyo Metro Ginza Line/ Toei Oedo Line Ueno-hirokoji Sta.
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 11:00 – 14:00/16:30 – 20:00
Minowa Kagayaki (Shabushabu)
There are many ways to enjoy wagyu beef, but if you want to try the traditional Japanese way, hotpot (shabushabu) is the best. One downside is, wagyu shabushabu is normally quite pricey. But Kagayaki in Minowa offers an all-you-can-eat course of A3 to A5 rank wagyu for only 7000 yen. The course includes many vegetables as well so that you can keep eating beef without being bored.
Address: 2-16-6 Ryusen, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 minutes from Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line Minowa Sta.
Opening hours: 17:00 – 22:00 (Irregular holidays)
Shibuya Sumibiyaki Yuji (Charcoal Barbecue)
Yakiniku barbecue is everyone’s favorite. Of course, there are a number of yakiniku barbecue restaurants in Tokyo with a wide range of prices. But we all want to enjoy good yakiniku at as low prices as possible. Sumibiyaki Yuji in Shibuya is very popular for its quality meat and reasonable pricing. The secret is not serving expensive quality meat but highly skilled cutting and preparation as well as considering combinations of food and the order of serving. Their menu includes sparerib, tongue, brisket, and offal as well as a special menu available on the day. Therefore, arrive early if you can and ask the shop staff about specials on the day. This place is very popular so you should make a booking in advance!
Address: 1F, 11-1 Udagawa-cho Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 10 minutes from JR Shibuya Sta.
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 16:00 – 23:00
Shinjuku TOKYO KITCHEN (Steak)
This is a steak house that serves dishes using Joshu beef produced in Gunma Prefecture. You can enjoy juicy beef steaks seasoned with originally blended herbs and spices here. This place opens only for dinner time during weekdays but opens for lunchtime on weekends so that customers enjoy lovely steak lunch, beef stew rice, and other delicious dishes at reasonable prices. Also, they have a good list of drinks, especially wines, that go perfectly with wagyu dishes. Deliveries and takeaways are available.
Address: T&T Building 7F, 3-32-10 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Access: Short walk from Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Shinjuku 3-chome Sta.
Opening hours: 17:00 – 22:00(Tue – Thu), 11:30 – 15:00/17:00 – 22:00 (Sat & Sun)
Akihabara Oshu Iwai (Fried Chicken)
Since the corona pandemic started, the number of fried chicken shops rapidly increasing in Japan. This movement is propelled by the strong demand for takeaways, and we now have a lot of good fried chicken shops in our neighborhood. Oshu Iwai in Akihabara is one of those hops, serving juicy delicious fried Iwaidori chicken marinated in a special sauce and fried. There are several flavors including original, spicy, and salt as well as types of meat such as chicken breast, thigh, and soft bones. Also, large-volume fried chicken lunch packs are available for takeaway. Another shop is located in Shibuya.
Address: 4-16-5 Asakusabashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 minutes from JR/Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line Akihabara Sta. or JR Asakusabashi Sta.
It is quite surprising that sushi and tempura are no longer counted as the most favorite Japanese food. The first ranking is meat dishes! But meat dishes include so many different types like beef, chicken, pork, etc. Especially, there are so many restaurants and eateries in Tokyo that serve meat dishes, and the places introduced in this column are only a tiny part of them. There are many more restaurants that are popular. If you can’t think of what to eat today in Tokyo, just try one of the places introduced here!