Sushi, ramen and yakiniku (grilled meat in Japanese) are possibly the most loved food in Japan. I have always put sushi in my first priority when I planned my foodie trip, until I had my first visit to Sumbiyakiniku Nakahara in Tokyo in 2015. It has totally changed my mind about grilled meat. Impressed by the fine ways of cooking the prestigious Japanese wagyu, I had my second visit in summer 2016 and it was undoubtedly my highlight of the trip.
Japanese wagyu has long been famous for its special breeding and feeding style, you hear stories like the cows are fed with sake, massaged daily and listen to classical music for relaxation. The special breeding and feeding styles result in meat with the signature marbling fat and high percentage of unsaturated fat. Cher and Owner, Nakahara san, is very serious with the source of his wagyu beef. The beef they are using is from Tajima cattle (但馬牛), same source as Kobe beef (神戶牛). Nakahara san always buy the top 30% of beef in waygu auctions for his yakiniku restaurant. This seriousness absolutely pays off when you taste the waygu, can I say it’s love-at-first-bite?
What an amazing starter to the omakase dinner, the raw beef was finely cut and nicely marinated. Adding raw egg yolk made it more slippery and easier to chew.
The legendary tongue gyu-tan
This included the inner, tip and bottom of a wagyu tongue. Each part had very distinctive texture and taste: the inner part was similar to what we usually get, the round shaped piece had substantial texture; the tip part was thinly cut so it was soft and full of meat flavour instead of chewy; the bottom part was interesting, it was fatty with tendons but it tasted very rich in flavour. Note that this dish requires preordering as they only sell limited number of tongues each day.
Look at the beautiful marbling pattern! Yes it tasted as good as it looked! It indeed melted in my mouth.
Raw beef sushi
Chef Nakahara holds a big respect to sushi masters, he pays a tribute by making his version of sushi – wagyu sushi. He added ginger and sesame instead of typical vinegar to sushi rice, so the crunchy texture could match with the tender raw beef, it was such an exciting dish.
Harami ハラミ (Beef outside skirt/ diaphragm)
I was told that this particular beef part was Nakahara san’s personal favourite. It had a thick cut so required longer grilling time, resulting in stronger texture that took longer chewing time. The longer you chewed, the longer you tasted the beef. It was really tasty.
Misuji みすじ (Tenderloin thick slice)
After Nakahara san’s favourite, here came to my favourite of the night. Words could hardly describe how delicious it was. It was soft but not as creamy as sirloin, it had a rich wagyu flavour and the marinate just worked so well. Misuji was still my favourite even after the second visit.
Katsu (fillet cutlet)
I did not have this in my first visit, so this was totally new for me. In fact, it was my first time having cutlet made by beef! Raw beef was wrapped with breadcrumbs and directly thrown into oil for deep frying. The amazing thing was, it could still retain juiciness of the meat. It was surely a highlight of the meal, and this requires preordering as well.
I was still impressed by awesome food in my second visit, I will definitely return whenever I visit Tokyo again, my favourite yakiniku place in the world!
Sumibiyakiniku Nakahara (炭火焼肉なかはら)
Address: GEMS Ichigaya 9F, 4-3 Rokubancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (東京都千代田区六番町4-3 GEMS市ヶ谷 9F)
Booking through Pocket Concierge