Tokyo does it raw

Sashimi-style prime meats add a fresh twist to tradition

Tokyo does it raw

‘Kintan’ Photo by Shujiro

With the thick of summer fast approaching, heat and humidity are beginning to rise on a daily basis. Inside the city, beer gardens are opening their doors one after another, and it seems like the whole of Tokyo is preparing itself for the summer ahead.

All that’s left to do, apart from coping with the just-started rainy season, is to welcome in the sweltering heat by indulging in some yakiniku (meat grill) – at either an outdoor barbecue, a beer garden on the way home from work or at one of Tokyo’s many great restaurants. Within the all-encompassing category of yakiniku there are in fact a variety of different fares. Additionally, many places that serve yakiniku also serve a selection of raw fare. Listed below are our top-five picks where you can enjoy raw meat delicacies, including sushi and sashimi that use meat rather than fish, yukhoe (Korean steak tartare) and tataki (seared meat cut into slices).

Kintan (Akasaka)

Located in the centre of a triangle made by Akasaka-mitsuke Station, Akasaka Station, and Tameike-sanno Station, Kintan is a dimly lit restaurant and a relaxing atmosphere, known for their ‘Kintan Tongue’, which carries the same name as the restaurant itself (tan meaning ‘tongue’). Priced at a slightly extravagant ¥2,500, the ‘Kintan Tongue’ consists of 200g of meat taken from the prized section of a kurogewagyu (Japanese Black cow) tongue that’s been aged for twenty days. Additionally, they also offer some of the best reba-sashi (raw slices of liver) in Japan and warayaki-sagari tataki (straw seared hanging tender beef cut into slices). Furthermore, they also have set course menus that includes a yakigyu (grilled beef) set course for ¥7,500, a special ‘Kintan’ set course for the steeper price of ¥11,000, and a chef’s special course for a more reasonable ¥3,800.
(Full details & map)

Wagyu Itto Yakiniku Teuchi Reimen Boya (Hongo)

Tucked into a side road just after a Resona Bank located on Hongo-dori, a mere five minute walk towards Ochanomizu from Hongo-sanchome Station, Wagyu Itto Yakiniku Teuchi Reimen Boya buy in whole cows and, in addition to serving all the regular cuts of meat common to yakiniku restaurants in general, they also serve various cuts that are harder to find – such as skirt sinew and select aitchbone and liver cuts. Aside from a menu that includes fares such as nama senmai-sashi, shio yukhoe-sashi, gyu-sashi-otsukuri, gyu-otoro-aburi-sushi, and a various cuts of raw meats served sashimi-style, they also offer a selection of particularly flavourful homemade reimen (cold noodles) to finish things off.
(Full details & map)

Amon (Ikebukuro)

A restaurant located in a relatively quiet suburb, an approximate ten-minute walk from the north exit of Ikebukuro Station, Amon serves both items common to most yakiniku restaurants and, additionally, a range of more creative dishes. They offer three different course menus, entitled nami (regular), jyo (special) and tokujyo (extra special), which include fares such as uni-maki (sea urchin rolled in raw meat), aburi-nigiri (seared meat sushi-style), yaki-shabu (thinly sliced seared meat), atsugiri-tan (thick-sliced tongue), vegetables and other organ meats. Furthermore, Amon also offers a range of alternatives, such as hamburgers and ninniku chahan (fried rice with garlic).
(Full details & map)

Kuon no Sora (Nakano)

A restaurant that specialises in raw meats, Kuon no Sora can be found located in a residential area approximately ten minute’s walk from the south exit of Nakano Station, along the train tracks in the direction of Koenji. The real reason to seek this restaurant out is for their sliced sashimi-style meats, which are all are all bought-in fresh and therefore lack any unpleasant odour, and include a wealth of different varieties such as liver, tongue, harami-tataki (seared skirt steak cut into slices), cartilage and kobukuro-sashi (sliced meat from around the uterus). The restaurant can often become quite crowded so if there’s something you’re particularly looking forward to sampling then consider making telephone reservations in advance to avoid any disappointment. Furthermore, due to lack of general weekend availability, on Saturdays raw meats are off the menu. In addition to meat they also serve a good selection of vegetables and domestic wines. The restaurant interior is clean and tidy, the atmosphere enjoyable and the staff both friendly and welcoming.
(Full details & map)

Akachochin (Shinjuku)

An izakaya specializing in beef offal, Akachochin is located a five-minute walk from Shinjuku-gyoenmae Station (look for the sign that reads Shusse ryori Akachochin displayed outside the restaurant). The menu here includes gatsu-sashi (sliced beef gut), gyu-tan-sashi (sliced beef tongue), harami-sashi (sliced beef skirt), and a range of other sliced meats. That being said, the go-to menu item here is the sashi-mori, a plate of assorted raw meats including liver, heart, spleen and gut meat topped with a special gochujang (a savoury fermented Korean condiment) based sauce. Other favourites here include grilled dishes such as gyu-tan-yaki (grilled beef tongue), gyu-harami-yaki (grilled beef skirt) and gyu-shibirenira (a dish containing sweetbreads and leek) – all of which come heavily seasoned and go well with something alcoholic. Towards closing time the more popular foods often sell out, so in addition to making prior reservations, it’s also advisable to go early.
(Full details & map)

By Takeshi Tojo
Translated by Brin Wilson
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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