The Best Places to Try Wagyu in Tokyo in 2020
Wagyu, literally meaning “Japanese beef,” is one of the most popular luxury foods that visitors look for when they visit Japan. There is no other beef quite as juicy, rich, and flavorful as wagyu due to its unique fatty marbling and texture. But where can you find the best wagyu in Tokyo? You may have heard the term Kobe beef from pop culture or high end steakhouse menus, as it is the most famous brand of wagyu, but you may not have known that there are also plenty of other brands offering delicious wagyu beef at varying price points! Whatever your budget or preference, there are plenty of different options to choose from, and we want to show you where to find the best wagyu in Tokyo.
What is WAGYU?
When looking to try great quality Japanese wagyu, there are a few things to keep in mind. Wagyu beef specifically refers to four distinct breeds of Japanese cattle, including Japanese Black cattle (Kuroge), Japanese Brown cattle (Akage), Japanese Shorthorn (Nihon Tankaku), and Japanese Polled (Mukaku). In Japan, cross-breeding wagyu cattle with other breeds of cattle is prohibited, so beef can only be considered wagyu if it belongs to one of these four breeds and if the cattle are Japan-raised.
Within wagyu, the main criteria for defining quality are grade and brand. The “Yield Grade” refers to how much high-quality meat one cow can produce, not counting internal organs and other offal. The grades range from A to C with the highest yield grade being A. The letter is always followed by a number from 1 to 5 which signifies the “Quality Grade,” with 5 being the highest grade. The quality grade is determined based on the amount of marbling, meat color and brightness, firmness and texture, and the luster and quality of the fat itself. The total grade is the yield and quality combined, meaning that the highest grade wagyu you can buy is A5 wagyu beef.
Branding is also important when it comes to determining wagyu quality. The brand indicates where the cattle is from, meaning Kobe brand beef, for example, is from Kobe in Hyogo prefecture. Kobe is one of the top three most famous brands of wagyu, along with Omi beef (from Shiga prefecture) and Matsusaka beef (from Mie prefecture). Aside from these top three, there are plenty of other famous brands that produce top-quality A5 grade wagyu, including: Miyazaki, Iwate, Hida, Yonezawa, Hitachi, Ishigaki, and Kumamoto. If you see any of these brands boasted on a menu, especially along with a high grade rating, you’ll know that the beef is top quality!
Now that you know what makes wagyu special, let’s get into how you can try it! There are many different styles of specialty wagyu cuisine, and each one offers a unique culinary experience. We’ve included recommendations the best wagyu restaurants and experiences in Tokyo for each, so you can pick your favorite or just try them all!
The BEST Way to Try Wagyu in Tokyo
Wagyu and Sake Pairing in Shinjuku
It would be a mistake not to start off by mentioning our own Wagyu and Sake Tasting experience! This comprehensive dining experience serves premium wagyu cuts prepared 4+ different ways. Most restaurants tend to focus on only one style of cooking, so you’d have to try many different restaurants to get the same experience. With us, you’ll be able to try many different wagyu dishes in the same meal (more bang for your buck)!
The meal includes 8+ courses, each course paired with a glass of select craft sake or a sake cocktail. People often think of steak and wine pairing well together, but the latest trend in Tokyo is actually pairing wagyu with sake. In this experience, you’ll learn how the delicate palate of sake perfectly complements the rich, fatty flavor of wagyu beef. Click here for more information and to book your experience today.
Wagyu Steak & Teppanyaki
As one of the most luxurious styles of dining in Japan, Teppanyaki is what comes to mind for most people when they think of wagyu beef. Teppanyaki is a style of cooking where the chef grills on a flat iron grill called a “teppan.” Seats are usually placed along a long counter directly in front the teppan grill, so that guests can watch as the chef grills their food to perfection. Chefs use large spatulas to expertly cook meat, fish, and seasonal vegetables, offering a fun viewing experience along with the excellent food. Teppanyaki restaurants can serve many kinds of food, but they often focus on high quality wagyu sirloin and tenderloin steaks. These restaurants tend to be small with limited seating, so reservations are usually required, and they often have set course menus where the entire meal is decided by the chef. Meals can range in price from ¥5000 to upwards of ¥35,000 per person depending on the quality of the wagyu they serve, so let’s look at some fantastic wagyu Teppanyaki options in different price ranges.
Roku in Kagurazaka ($$)
A great option in a good neighborhood with very reasonable prices. They only have 16 seats, so be sure to reserve in advance. You can choose your course from a couple of different options, ranging in price from ¥6,000 to about ¥8,000 per person, but you can also order a la carte if you prefer. They serve good quality wagyu along with seasonal vegetables, grilled seafood, and okonomiyaki (a teppanyaki-style savory pancake).
Address: 2F 長谷部ビル 3Chome – 2 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Miyachi in Ginza ($$$)
Miyachi specializes in dry-aged beef, a process that makes the wagyu extra-tender and flavorful. They have a few different course meals that range between ¥10,000 and ¥30,000 per person, but if you go for lunch you can get a fantastic teppanyaki course set for about ¥5,000.
Address: 6F 塚本不動産ビル 5 Chome−5−11 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo
Onodera in Ginza ($$$)
If you’re looking for a truly high-end dining experience, Onodera has got you covered. You can choose between a few different course menus with prices ranging from ¥15,000 to ¥80,000, all of which focus on Japanese wagyu beef. They also allow you to order wagyu sirloin steaks a la carte. They focus a few of their courses around Kobe beef specifically, and there is even a specialty course that ONLY serves Kobe beef cuts… which will cost you ¥50,000 per person.
Address: 7F アクトビル 4 Chome−6−18 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo
Yakiniku is a Japanese style of barbecue where you grill your own meat over a small charcoal grill on your table. Usually meat is ordered by the plate, which typically has 5-6 pieces of raw meat in the cut of your choice. You can often choose between rib, flank, skirt, loin, tongue, and many more, along with your choice of seasoning. Most yakiniku restaurants also offer all-you-can-eat options called “tabehodai,” which usually come in different price ranges depending on whether you want to stick to imported beef, which tends to be cheaper, or domestic wagyu beef. This style of dining is generally more casual, and there is more variety in both the price and meat quality, but luckily we’ve compiled a list of the best wagyu yakiniku restaurants in Tokyo.
Jiromaru in Shinjuku ($)
A standing bar/restaurant serving good quality wagyu meat. If you do not mind waiting for a bit and standing while eating, this is the place to go. Reasonably priced, but dress casually because of the smoke from the grill. It is right in the middle of Kabukicho, one of Tokyo’s main nightlife districts. On Friday nights expect to wait, depending on the timing.
Address: 1-26-3 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Motoyama in Shinjuku ($$)
They serve great quality Kobe beef and other wagyu beef brands at a reasonable price, mainly focusing on A5 quality Kuroge black beef. Courses start at ¥4,000 per person, and they offer a la carte options as well as rare cuts of meat that you might not find at other restaurants.
Address: 2F ダイハンビルデンス 7 Chome−10−12 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Hanamonya in Shinjuku ($$$)
This restaurant buys a whole wagyu beef to serve meat to the customers so that they can carry all kinds of different meat cuts. Fairly high-end dining, but with a relaxed and quiet atmosphere. Reasonable drink prices, with courses ranging from ¥5,000 to ¥15,000 per person.
Address: 6F 新宿ユースビルＰＡＸ 4-1-9 Shinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo
Wagyu Hot Pot
One of the most traditional ways to enjoy wagyu is in Japanese hotpot! There are two main styles of hotpot dining: shabu shabu and sukiyaki. Shabu shabu involves dipping raw meat into boiling water to cook, and then dipping into different sauces. Sukiyaki, on the other hand, involves dipping the meat into a flavored broth and then dipping the cooked meat into raw egg. Both are absolutely delicious and flavorful, and can be cooked using either pork or beef with plenty of seasonal vegetables, but hotpot is most delicious when it includes wagyu beef! Most shabu shabu and sukiyaki restaurants will offer both cooking style options as well as multiple meat quality options for you to choose from.
For a budget-friendly option, try one of the many Nabezo locations throughout Tokyo. They offer all-you-can-eat courses of 100 minutes at different price-points, but of course their more expensive courses include delicious Japanese wagyu, which we highly recommend.
Address in Shinjuku: 8F 新宿高野第二ビル 3-chōme−30-11 Shinjuku, Tokyo
Zakuro in Nihonbashi ($$)
Zakuro offers excellent meat quality and attention to detail in a relaxed and traditional atmosphere. If you’ve always wanted to be served traditional Japanese wagyu by waiters in kimono, this is the dinner for you! Courses range from ¥2,000-3,000 at lunchtime to about ¥8,000-10,000 at dinnertime.
Address: 4F コレド室町 2 Chome−2−1 Nihonbashimuromachi, Chuo City, Tokyo
Imafuku in Shirogane ($$$)
This 2-star Michelin acclaimed restaurant serves some of the best quality wagyu beef in its shabu-shabu and sukiyaki courses. Their menu is seasonal, so you can expect super fresh vegetables and ingredients, as well as new courses, every time you go. They are particular about brand and quality, so they can tell you what part of the country each cut of meat is from before you order. Expect to pay about ¥10,000 per person.
Address: 1-12-19 Shirogane, Minato, Tokyo
Henry’s Burger in Daikanyama ($)
Of course we had to include a wagyu burger! A Japanese twist on a western classic, wagyu burgers are getting more and more popular in Japan as a higher quality alternative to fast food and diners. At Henry’s Burger, they only use ground Kuroge wagyu (black beef) and focus on the meat quality above all else. This creates a burger that is more juicy, tender, and flavorful than your typical Angus beef burger. A single hamburger combo costs about 1200 yen, but you have the option of adding toppings to customize your burger.
Address: 1 Chome-36-6 Ebisunishi, Shibuya City, Tokyo
WAGYUMAFIA: THE CUTLET SANDWICH in Nakameguro ($$-$$$)
If you want to try something with a modern twist, then you might be interested in trying a “wagyu katsu sando”! This sandwich consists of a juicy wagyu steak covered in panko crust and deep fried, then placed between two soft slices of bread. Wagyumafia is the king of wagyu katsu sandwiches! There are a few different options on the menu, with prices starting from ¥5,000 and going all the way up to ¥35,000 for the Kobe dry-aged beef sandwich. Do not underestimate the quality of this beef— even though it’s in a sandwich, it’s some of the highest quality wagyu you can find (with the price tag to match)! Delicately simple, but packed with flavor and texture, this will quickly become your favorite sandwich ever.
Address: 1 Chome-26-1-108 Kamimeguro, Meguro City, Tokyo
As you can see, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy delicious wagyu beef in Tokyo. You’ll be amazed at how many options you have and how drastically different great wagyu is from other types of beef. All you need to do is decide which you want to try first out of all these fantastic wagyu restaurant options! Whether you try just one or all of them, you surely won’t be disappointed.