Since 2011, 4 years from the first Michelin guide Tokyo debut, we have been publishing “Yakini-chelin” once a year.
We are confident that no one loves and eats Wagyu beef than we do.
We made up Yakini-chelin 2016 based on our innumerable visits to yakiniku restaurants in Japan. Through the visits, we noticed it true that the more you eat, the more discoveries you find.
Here is the list of unforgettable and wonderful yakiniku restaurants in Japan.
- Restaurants which we didn’t visit in 2016 are not included in the list
- Opinions are fully biased on our experiences
☆☆☆ Yoroniku (English available)
The yakiniku industry has experienced a dramatic evolution since the time when Karubi and Ro-su were the most popular menus in yakiniku restaurants.
During the change, Yoroniku played a significant role by using top-brand beefs which used to be used only in Sukiyaki restaurants and Steak houses, leveraging the techniques of Japanese and Western cuisines, and introducing scarce parts of beef which were regarded as meats not suited for yakiniku. It integrated those “new essences” of yakiniku together and made fully calculated yakiniku full-course dinner.
It procures only meats of Wagyu cows which are more than 30 month old from Hiyama, one of the most trusted beef whole seller. Not always but sometimes pure Tajima blood Kobe beefs and Omi beefs from Hyogo prefecture are also available.
With brilliant skills of cutting meats and well-considered seasonings, Yoroniku successfully magnifies tastiness of the beefs. Yoroniku amplifies characteristics of each parts of the beefs not only by using top quality meats but also by putting a lot of thoughts into the cooking processes.
Choose whatever you want to eat from A la carte menu is one way to enjoy the tenderness of Wagyu fats and the richness of the lean meats. However, we strongly recommend ordering the standard full-course dinner which brings you much higher satisfaction. Even more, the special Omakase full-course dinner includes incredibly creative beef dishes and we think it supreme.
All the creativeness and the perfection are upon curiosity of Mr. Vanne, the owner of Yoroniku”, toward yakiniku. As long as he puts his passion into it, no competitors would threaten the King of Yakiniku.
☆☆☆ Kunimoto (Can only be communicated in Japanese)
“Simple is best”, it is especially true for Japanese.
For instance, we Japanese tend to eat foods without any seasoning but only with salt if the quality of ingredient itself is high enough. However, we have something different opinion when it comes to yakiniku. Eventually nothing is more important than yakiniku sauce. It becomes more and more difficult to distinguish the subtle difference of each meat when you keep eating the meat only with salt. We consider salt suits more with steak rather than yakiniku. Although yakiniku sauce without advanced cooking skill spoils the flavor of the meat, the sauce made by Kunimoto which even brings out the flavor further is we think the best yakiniku sauce in Japan. Kunimoto uses two different kinds of sauce both of which have well-balanced sweetness and sour and make it possible to maximize the potential of the beef. Also its technique to marinate the beef with the sauce is stood out. Therefore, we think the beef for this yakiniku sauce must be the finest one.
Back in 2000s, Kunimoto used to use Awaji beef. Then it became difficult to regularly procure fine Awaji beef, thus Kunimoto began to use other Wagyu beefs. Now the Wagyu beefs Kunimoto uses are very good, we can say those are the best in its history.
The collaboration of the best yakiniku sauce and the best Wagyu made Kunimoto popular. Two of the Kunimoto’s restaurant are run by Kunimoto brothers: the older brother runs Honten, and the younger brother runs Shinten. It is also very interesting to compare yakiniku sauces and the ways of preparing beefs of those two restaurants. Each of them is of course wonderful and we think it is impossible to judge which of those two is better.
☆☆☆ Yuji (Can only be communicated in Japanese)
When we talk about Yuji, the technique of Mr.Higuchi, its owner chef, comes first. He meticulously prepare and seasons the beefs in order to bring its potential out. Horumon (offal and innards of beef) at Yuji is incredibly fresh and its quality is very high. Mr.Higuchi uses his cooking techniques in various situations during his preparing processes. We think none of the other yakiniku chefs can do it in same level as what he can.
Variety of seasoning is also one of the attractive aspect of Yuji. At the same time, Mr.Higuchi sometimes uses only salt for seasoning horumons whereas other yakiniku restaurants often use sesame oil and garlic etc. The more you eat at Yuji, the more you become fan of the original flavor of horumons. Those horumons don’t have the unique smells and this is why Mr.Higuchi uses only salt for seasoning fresh horumons.
Many people regards Yuji as a yakiniku restaurant specialized in horumon. However it is not true. Its yakiniku menus other than horumons are also very tasty. Yuji procures high-quality beefs as well, and Mr.Higuchi cooks it to the dishes (no longer “yakiniku”) which can compete even with traditional Japanese cuisines. Once you eat the dishes, you will never forget them. Yuji is the restaurant which we can enjoy how the Wagyu beef is cooked by the “real” chef.