While searching long and far for the best yakiniku in Tokyo, I came across the Yakiniku Samurai Restaurant, located in Shinjuku. If you’re not familiar, in Japanese, “yaki” means grilled and “niku” means meat, so yakiniku basically means Japanese Barbeque. You’re welcome!
Originally, the photos of the interior and beautiful cuts of meat on their Instagram page led me to arrange a dinner there, to see if it tasted as good as it looked! This just illustrates how important it is to present your business professionally, to draw in business. Upon arrival, I was promptly greeted by the staff and brought to a private dining room for the evening’s feast. The restaurant manager suggested the Omakase tasting menu for the evening, which if you’re not familiar, means chef’s choice in Japanese. Little did I know that this was a marathon of eating with a jaw dropping 13 courses!
From my experience with fine dining, the taste of the first bite is usually a great indicator for the quality of the rest of the evening. In this case, a bite of one of the six different Korean style bonchon dishes lifted my level of excitement for what was yet to come. After the bonchon came a salad with a simple presentation, but a slap of intense flavor to your taste buds. What a lovely start!
The next course built the level of excitement, which was an assortment of four well-presented items. This included, tripe, sweet shrimp roll, beef filet and beef tartar made with various cuts of beef. I’m not generally a fan of tripe, but honestly, this was enjoyable and at first I actually couldn’t tell that it was even tripe. The plate’s presentation was gorgeous, accented with gold leaf and fish eggs. Beautiful and tasty.
Recently, I have been able to enjoy a few minced beef cutlets while in Tokyo. However, the very best I’ve ever had was at Yakiniku Samurai and was only lightly seasoned with nutmeg. Apparently, a majority of the flavor came from the specific beef used, which was incredibly juicy. Incredible. I started to really appreciate the flow of dishes in the design of the menu.
The next course was comprised of beef tongue and beef heart. The staff informed me that the rear part of the tongue is the most tender, and this was exactly what they served. This was also when the first glass of red wine came, which was a 2014 Star Lane Vinyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Barbara, California. This rich, full-bodied red wine felt like it was made to be paired with the dishes served. I had to dance a little from pure joy! I’m definitely ordering this wine when I have a chance, lovely.
I bounced back and forth between the initial bonchon dishes from the first course, because a little spice was great every now and again. Next up was a top blade beef cut, which comes from the shoulder area, served with Japanese Sannshou Pepper. In the same course was also a prized tri-tip cut coming from the thigh of the cow. Once again, both fully mouthwatering and delicious.
Then was the hand-rolled sirloin sushi and soup. This course definitely was one of the most beautiful courses of the evening. It felt like I was eating a little piece of jewelry, delicious jewelry.
To this point, everything was incredible, but little did I know at the time it would only get better from there. It soon became a steady stream of knockout punch type dishes that continually shocked and impressed me. The chateaubriand, a cut from the tenderloin, has a very fine texture, making it super tender and had to be cooked at a very low heat to bring out the best flavor. In the same course was served a sirloin which required high-heat and fast cooking. Both utterly delicious.
Next up, was Japanese Shabushabu, where the meat is delicately boiled. This was made from sirloin meat, chrysanthemum, green onion, and Yairo Shitake Mushroom. Incredible. The meat was great, but for this course the mushroom is what really stood out to me.
Now was time for a course that had a huge wow factor, the Beef Fillet Cutlet Sandwich, created with bread from a very special bakery in Ginza, and topped with a homemade demi-glace sauce. This sandwich costs $100 USD! The taste was incredible, this wasn’t just hype! If you have a chance, try this succulent sandwich!
The last item before things started to wind-down was the Chuck Flap Sukiyaki with Italian Truffle. This dish was prepared on the table. It was cooked by hot water then swirled together with egg and truffle adding to its richness! A real crowd pleaser.
At this point, I had an option between noodles or curry rice. I went with the staff recommendation of curry rice. Even though I was quite full, I easily ignored it because the flavor was so impressive! The meat in the curry was also super tender, perfection.
To wrap up the meal I tried all three puddings including matcha, hojicha (roasted green tea), and almond. The texture of Japanese pudding is so much better than any other pudding I’ve had. Delicate, yet super rich and creamy. Definitely not the pudding my mom used to make!
The way this entire evening came together impressed me greatly. It’s not common a restaurant can serve 13 courses where all of them will blow your mind! Yakiniku Samurai is an absolute must if you want to have one of the best meals of your life! It’s not just amazing food, it’s also the beautiful interior, ambiance, and attentive service. Yakiniku Samurai is the full package, and the best Yakiniku I’ve ever had. Go go go!
2 Chome-20-9 Kabukicho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo-to
東京都 新宿区 歌舞伎町 2-20-9 三経ビル75 1F