Address: Japan, 〒160-0021 Tokyo, 新宿区Kabukicho, 1 Chome−２６−３
Price range: 90-400 JPY
Rate on Yelp: 5 stars
Walking around Shinjuku with five hungry people who are depending on your choice of restaurant, but having no idea where to eat, is a situation you do not want to be in.
I created an opportunity for my family to grind my gears that one afternoon. After a long day of walking and going from one district to another, I found myself getting badgered with questions like “where are we eating?” “which restaurant?” “didn’t you search for it beforehand?” I should have, but I didn’t know which district we’d find ourselves last or if my family would be interested in wagyu. So there was really no point to look for a restaurant if I didn’t know where we’d end up in.
Finally, I gave in. I turned on my mobile data despite knowing that I would be paying 599 PHP once I came back home (I already saw my bill – it’s insane). I opened Yelp, the famous business locator app that I previously gave no mind until I met my now boyfriend. He uses it like a bible to find the best and cheapest restaurants in town.
I eventually found Jirōmaru, a Yakiniku place that only had 2 Japanese Yen signs next to its name. It was the cheapest around. Good reviews, only 0.6 kilometers from where we were standing. “Let’s check it out!”
I almost walked past it while I was looking at google maps. I thought that the front of the restaurant would be wide and conspicuously placed in between other establishments. Nope. The front was just about two and a half meters wide with two doors on each side of the facade. One door was for the customers to get into, while the other was for the chefs. As I peeked into the door I found myself looking at a line. This is a standing restaurant! One of the chefs firmly pointed that out when he saw us waiting and looking clueless about these kinds of places. My mom was not happy with this information.
Much to my family’s reluctance, we stood outside for about 5 minutes before half of our group was allowed to go in. We had to wait for one couple to finish up because the space was that limited. I believe there were only about 6 small grills out on the counter. Three of us made our way to the grill that had just been cleared by the couple, while the other two waited for another 10 minutes before they could come in. My brother chose to eat at McDonald’s.
As we were facing the area where the chefs stand, I noticed the small wooden blocks (bars?) hanging on the walls. Japanese characters were written on them, with numbers at the bottom of each bar. That’s how they displayed the menu, each wooden bar showed a part of meat together with its price. How nice. We couldn’t understand a single word.
Thankfully, the chefs spoke good English. So they asked us if we’d like for them to pick their favorites for us. We said yes, and left everything entirely up to them. While the orders kept coming, with seemingly no sign of stopping, I thought that maybe letting them decide wasn’t such a good idea. I wondered to myself if we’d end up paying a fortune after dinner. The prices on the menu ranged from 100 to 400 JPY, which isn’t so bad compared to other sit-down (?) restaurants that offer wagyu. But small plate orders such as what were getting can add up.
True enough, our orders did add up to an amount I’d rather not disclose because it can speak of either two things: one, is that my family and I CAN EAT; or two, we got ripped off. The more that I think about it now, the more convinced I am of the latter.
We should have checked the bill more closely. Although, we could have probably paid for each slice of wagyu. I just checked the bill from another restaurant that we ate in on our last day in Tokyo, and one plate of wagyu was 900 JPY. I don’t know! I wasn’t briefed before going inside Jirōmaru.
Be that as it may, at least the food was far from disappointing. And even though I hate reviewing food (because I don’t know how), I’m going to list down a few thoughts:
- The meat exploded like water, bursting from a dam, inside my mouth.
- Scratch water and replace it with melted butter.
- Wagyu does melt like butter.
- The meat didn’t need any seasoning.
- It was that flavorful.
- Their sauce didn’t really do anything to the meat. Meaning, no added flavor.
- Or maybe I’ve just forgotten.
- Good thing the meat was that flavorful.
- There’s a lot of rice in a small bowl.
- Next time count the plates.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The food was great at Jirōmaru, as proven by the countless five star ratings on Yelp. Trying a standing restaurant, and possibly having been fooled into paying more for food, was also a first for me which I may not rate as a five star experience. But both are great to add to the imaginary travel portfolio! That’s not to say that I have never been fooled while travelling before, just not with food in particular. But every traveller must go through these things, otherwise, what fun stories would there be to tell? So cheers to great wagyu and new experiences in Tokyo. May our future travels introduce us to more food minus the problems. 🍺🎉