Monday, July 10, 2017

Tokyo in 40: Cheapo Steakhouse

After an afternoon at Ghibli Museum and wandering on the streets of Kichijoji for a mini zakka crawl, I decided to stick around the neighborhood for dinner before catching my midnight flight home. There's no lack of choices of places to eat near the train station, either inside the food halls of shopping centers and department stores, or inside a few blocks of narrow alleys lined with bars and izakayas (called Harmonica Yokocho)

But instead I went for a steakhouse - to be exact, a popular, hole-in-the-wall steakhouse called Satou not far away from the train station. While their branch at Tsukiji is known to be serving some of the best breeds of wagyu steaks with price to match, their Kichijoji store - their original branch - mainly focuses on their butchery business with only a small section for sit-down meal up in their loft above the butcher counter and snack stall, with a reasonably-priced menu.

The place was not hard to spot, right at a street junction with a constant line of customers waiting for their signature deep-fried wagyu meatballs, sold at their takeaway snack stall. For 220 yen (less than USD$2), you got this well-battered, tennis ball-sized meatballs with minced wagyu meat and onions. The waiting time is shorter than the length of the line suggest, and it was good for munching.

Of course, I wasn't going to settle with just that. Through a small entrance next to the takeaway stall, I climbed up the narrow flight of stairs to the loft, where they ran a small restaurant serving a limited steak menu for lunch and dinner. I heard it’s not unusual for people having to wait for one of the few seats available (either by the counter or at the table by the window), but luckily I went slightly earlier than the normal dinner hour and was seated right away. The menu is pretty standard – each set came with salad, soup, rice and pickles, and all you needed to do is to decide on the cuts and grade (and portion) of the wagyu beef.

I picked the Yuki-set, which came with 150g of either a fillet mignon or ribeye chosen by the chef. All the cooking was done off the sizzling steal plate right by the counter – so those sitting next to it could get to see the action real close. My steak arrived after about 15 minutes just as I finished my vegetable salad. The meat was cooked medium rare and served with sautéed bean sprouts, string beans, carrots, mushrooms, and deep-fried sliced garlic gloves. I think the steak has good marbled fat and meaty flavor – one shouldn’t expect this to be the top grade wagyu with the most prestigious breed, but with this price, I thought the quality was good. The meat portion sounded a little small at first (it’s equivalent to 6oz), but with everything else included as part of the set, it turned out to be just right to me.

I wouldn’t come all the way from downtown Tokyo for this, but as a simple joint in the neighborhood, I would recommend it. Signing off from Tokyo now, until next time.

When? June 4 2017
Where? Steakhouse Satou, 2nd Floor 1-1-8 Kichijojihoncho, Musashino, Japan

The rest of my Tokyo weekend:

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