The Best Yakiniku in Tokyo (Japan)

So you’ve come to Japan and want to experience the world’s finest Wagyu beef. While there are many ways to have it (steakhouse, sukiyaki, shabu shabu) the best way to experience Wagyu at its best and in copious amounts is Yakiniku. Wagyu is known for its beautiful marbling so it suits thinner slices rather than steaks and the lick of binchotan (charcoal) will always be the most delicious way to cook meat.

My Three Favourite Wagyu Yakiniku Dishes in Tokyo

Normally I love rating restaurants and declaring a favourite but for Yakiniku it’s a bit more complex. All the Yakiniku restaurants in this post are truly great and use high quality meat (A5 or A4 grade); you’ll be in for an epic meal at all the places below. This means that objective factors such as meat quality and tare (sauce) flavour are no longer useful for creating ratings.

What distinguishes each Yakiniku restaurant are subjective factors such as style, creativity and ambience. Each of them also specialise in different areas and have different signature dishes. Simply put, there is a “perfect” Yakiniku for everyone and every occasion. 

So below is not only a list of the best Yakiniku restaurants in Tokyo but also a guide on how to find the best Yakiniku restaurant for you

Let’s start this meating 🙂

Table of Contents

The Meat Matrix

The Meat Table

The Best Yakiniku Restaurant in Tokyo

Jambo Hanare (焼肉 ジャンボ はなれ) – The Complete Yakiniku

Sumibi Yakiniku Nakahara (炭火焼肉 なかはら) – The Chef’s Table Yakiniku

Yoroniku (よろにく) – The Kaiseki Lovers Yakiniku

Sutamina-en (スタミナ苑) – The No Reservations Yakiniku

Yakiniku Shimizu (焼肉しみず) – The Tongue Lover Yakiniku

Uguisudani-en (焼肉 鶯谷園) – The Ikea Yakiniku

Sumibiyaki Yuuji (炭火焼 ゆうじ) – The Horumon (Offal) Lover Yakiniku

Sato Briand (SATOブリアン) – The Lean Meat Yakiniku

Yakiniku Restaurants that aren’t worth going to

Wishlist

Conclusion

The Meat Matrix

Here are all the best Yakiniku Restaurants in Tokyo mapped relative to each other based on Food Style and Ambiance. Whether you want traditional and casual or creative and refined, this graph is the holy grail in helping you find the perfect Yakiniku for your own preferences and for every occasion.

Tokyo Yakiniku Meat Matrix

The Best Yakiniku in Tokyo Graph

The Meat Table

Best Yakiniku in Tokyo Table

The Best Yakiniku in Tokyo Detail

The Best Yakiniku Restaurant in Tokyo

Jambo Hanare (焼肉 ジャンボ はなれ) – The Complete Yakiniku

Jambo Hanare is the most complete Yakiniku making it a popular choice for Tokyo first-timers as well as Yakiniku connoisseurs. It’s “complete” because it has the best balance of everything – good Wagyu, Tare (sauce) and side dishes, both traditional and modern Yakiniku dishes, option to omakase or a la carte.

Whether you are a thin sliced or thick cut person, and whether you’re a pure Wagyu person or like your Wagyu with some carbs (think Wagyu sushi, curry, rice or katsu), Jambo’s menu likely has the perfect Wagyu dish for you.

 Jambo Wagyu Nigiri

Signature dishes

  • Noharayaki (Marinated Sirloin dipped in Raw Egg)
  • Wagyu Nigiri
  • Kainomi (Upper Rib) or Harami (Skirt Steak), grilled with lid
  • Gyukatsu Don (reserve in advance)
  • Yukke Rice (reserve in advance)
  • Hire-niku Takikomi Gohan (Seasoned Rice with Wagyu Fillet) – (reserve in advance)
  • Kimchi (it was surprisingly good…)

Perfect for you

  • Traditional Yakiniku with a modern twist (thoughtful creativity)
  • Enjoy more marbled Wagyu
  • Very good tare (sauces) and marination that lean on the sweeter side
  • Large variety on the menu (including many sides such as Curry and even Omurice)

Cons

  • Difficult to reserve
  • A lot of the best dishes need to be reserved in advance
  • Some may prefer their Wagyu with a slightly less sweet Tare (sauce)

If you enjoyed Jambo Hanare, you may also like – 

  • Yoroniku
  • The other Jambos (Honten, Hongo, Shirokane, Hong Kong)

Jambo Noharayaki (Marinated Sirloin dipped in Raw Egg)

What’s with all the different Jambos?

Menu across all Jambos are largely the same but Hanare has its own dedicated signature dishes only found there.

Hanare

  • “Hanare” translates to separate store, and often (and in this case) means the flagship
  • Refined ambience (relatively)
  • Meat is grilled by staff
  • Literally opposite Hongo. Don’t walk into the wrong one!

Honten (Edogawa)

  • First store
  • DIY meat grill
  • Considered one of the founders of modern yakiniku in Japan and was the first to serve rare cuts and thin sliced meat 

Hongo

  • DIY meat grill
  • Literally opposite Hanare. Don’t walk into the wrong one!

Shirokane

  • DIY meat grill
  • More tourist friendly with more English speaking staff
  • Manager is an ex-employee rather than from the Nanbara family
Jambo Hanare (焼肉 ジャンボ はなれ)
Address – 3-27-9 Hongo, Bunkyo City, Tokyo (map)
Phone – +81 3 5689-8705
Style – Creative
Ambience – Refined
Grill – Gas (Chef/Waiter)
Budget – ¥10,000~19,999
Reservation – Hard. Book a month in advance.

Sumibi Yakiniku Nakahara (炭火焼肉 なかはら) – The Chef’s Table Yakiniku

Nakahara is called The Chef’s Table Yakiniku not only because it’s the Yakiniku restaurant most likely to appear on Netflix’s Chef’s Table but also because Nakahara’s counter is what many consider (myself included) the best Wagyu seat in Japan. The experience of chatting and watching Nakahara-san grill your wagyu in front of you is undoubtedly the best Wagyu experience you can have.

While it is one of the more expensive Yaikiniku restaurants, it is for good reason. Not only does he buy only the highest A5 quality wagyu, but he trims the meat significantly more than other restaurants to ensure the perfect bite every time.

Read more about why I think Nakahara’s counter is the best Wagyu seat in Japan in my full Nakahara review here.

Nakahara Omakase

Nakahara’s Sirloin

Signature dishes

  • Sirloin
  • Misuji
  • “Legendary” Wagyu Tongue
  • Gyukatsu Sando

Perfect for you

  • Interacting with the chef (Japanese or English)
  • Intimate chef table/counter experiences
  • The ultimate expression of pure wagyu and traditional Yakiniku
    • Not only does he buy the highest A5 quality wagyu, but he trims the meat significantly more than others to ensure the perfect bite every time

Cons

  • One of the more expensive Yakiniku restaurants in Japan
  • Set course only (no a la carte)
  • Some may find the course protein heavy in the middle

If you enjoyed Nakahara, you may also like – 

  • Sumibi Yakiniku Fuchioka (Nakahara’s apprentice)
Sumibi Yakiniku Nakahara (炭火焼肉 なかはら)
Address – GEMS Ichigaya 9F, 4-3 Rokubancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (map)
Phone – +81 3 6261-2987
Style – Traditional
Ambience – Refined
Grill – Binchotan (Chef)
Budget – ¥15,000~24,999
Reservation – Moderate. Book a few weeks in advance.

Yoroniku (よろにく) – The Kaiseki Lovers Yakiniku

Yoroniku is a pioneer when it comes to modern Yakiniku, incorporating Kaiseki and Western techniques to elevate and refine their Yakiniku course. Yoroniku is the only place you will be able to find seasonal ingredients like sweet corn, bamboo shoots and matsutake mushrooms incorporated into Wagyu dishes.

As a result, the meal overall feels closer to a Kaiseki meal than other Yakiniku restaurants. Yoroniku is the place for you if you want to see how far the Yakiniku boundaries can be pushed.

Yoroniku Wagyu Sukiyaki with Truffles

Signature dishes

  • Gyukatsu Sando
  • Silk Loin
  • Wagyu Sukiyaki with Truffles
  • Seasonal Corn-wrapped Wagyu
  • Wagyu Ochazuke (sometimes topped with Shirako/Cod Milt)

Perfect for you

  • Enjoy Kaiseki
  • Like creativity and luxurious ingredients
  • Have experience in Yakiniku and may be bored of the Yakiniku scene

Cons

  • Some dishes are too creative – too much creativity, too little execution
  • Too refined, and to some, may have lost the heart of what makes Yakiniku great
  • May feature too much Kaiseki and western techniques, rather than traditional Yakiniku

If you enjoyed Yoroniku, you may also like – 

What’s with all the different Yoronikus, Namaiki and Kurosen?

There are two Yoroniku branches, Omotesando (first store) and Ebisu. Their menus are largely the same and the meat is the same quality.

Namaiki (Akihabara) is a sister store of Yoroniku. Their menu is different with their own signature dishes, such as Tongue Sashimi and Sirloin Sashimi, but they do serve some of the popular Yoroniku dishes such as Chateaubriand and Silk Sirloin. It is also cheaper than Yoroniku, at ¥8,000~¥9,999.

Kamayaki Kappou Kurosen is an offshoot of Yoroniku that has a bigger focus on Wagyu Kaiseki and counter dining.

Yoroniku (よろにく)
Address – B1F, 6-6-22 Minamiaoyama, Minato City, Tokyo (map)
Phone – +81 3 3498-4629
Style – Creative
Ambience – Refined
Grill – Gas (Chef/Waiter)
Budget – ¥15,000~24,999
Reservation – Hard. Book a month in advance.

Sutamina-en (スタミナ苑) – The No Reservations Yakiniku

Not only is this called No Reservations because it’s the type of place that the late Anthony Bourdain would go to but also because Sutamina-en literally takes no reservations, even if you are the Prime Minister. But don’t let the casual no-frills ambience deter you. Sutamina-en is one of the most famous Yakiniku restaurants in Japan, often known as “Yakiniku Heaven” amongst Yakiniku connoisseurs.

Sutamina-en Yakiniku

Sutamina-en Mixed Horumon (Offal)

Signature dishes

  • Upper Tongue
  • Extra-Special Skirt Steak
  • Tegutan (Togarashi Pepper Beef Stew)
  • Miso Nikomi
  • Mixed Horumon (Offal)
  • Hatsu Tataki (Heart)

Perfect for you

  • Don’t want to plan your reservations
  • Casual atmosphere
  • Enjoy Horumon (Offal)
  • Traditional Japanese zashiki seating (tatami eating)

Cons

  • The wait (2 hours on weekends. I recommend you visit 30 minutes before opening on weekdays)
  • It can get smoky and hot while grilling 
  • Strengths are the offals which may not be for everyone

If you enjoyed Sutamina-en, you may also like – 

Sutamina-en (スタミナ苑)
Address – 3-13-4 Shikahama, Adachi City, Tokyo (map)
Phone – +81 3 3897-0416
Style – Traditional
Ambience – Casual
Grill – Binchotan (DIY)
Budget – ¥6,000~7,999
Reservation – No reservations, line up early.

Yakiniku Shimizu (焼肉しみず) – The Tongue Lover Yakiniku

Most people agree that Shimizu has the best Wagyu Tongue in Tokyo. Luckily, there are many other things to like here as well, whether it’s the easy accessibility, menu flexibility or A5 Kobe Wagyu that is around half the price you’d pay at other restaurants. 

The flavour of the Wagyu and Yakiniku itself is not as exceptional as other places and you’re not going to achieve Wagyu perfection here, but sometimes you don’t want that. Sometimes, you just want a really good local casual Yakiniku restaurant for a “meat up” that doesn’t require much planning. The best Wagyu Tongue in Tokyo is just a bonus.

Three Stages of the Best Wagyu Tongue in Tokyo

Signature dishes

  • Thick Sliced Tongue (needs to be pre-reserved)
    • Only 5 servings of the “thick-sliced tongue” can be made from a cow
  • Shacho 5-shu Mori (a platter of the 5 best meat cuts on the day)
  • Tail
  • Harami (Outer Skirt)

Perfect for you

  • The best Wagyu Tongue in Japan
  • Easy to reserve and casual Yakiniku
  • Good balance between course menu and a la carte

Cons

  • Their Wagyu meat (excluding Tongue) is not as exceptional as some other places
  • Tare (sauce) lacks impact

If you enjoyed Shimizu, you may also like – 

Yakiniku Shimizu (焼肉しみず)
Address – 2F, 4-29-13 Nishigotanda, Shinagawa City, Tokyo (map)
Phone – +81 3 3492-2774
Style – Traditional
Ambience – Casual
Grill – Binchotan (DIY)
Budget – ¥8,000~9,999
Reservation – Easy. Book a few weeks in advance.

Uguisudani-en (焼肉 鶯谷園) – The Ikea Yakiniku

Uguisudani-en feels like the Ikea of the Yakiniku restaurant scene. The everyday Yakiniku, both because it’s casual and accessible enough to go every day but also because it is the best value Yakiniku in Tokyo. It’s a relatively large Yakiniku restaurant, allowing it economies of scale while standardisation and the focus on core basics (the Wagyu itself) enables it’s great cost performance.

You won’t get a binchotan (charcoal) grill, the sides could be better and the presentation could do with a bit of work but these trade offs seem insignificant when it’s the best value Yakiniku in Tokyo.

Yakiniku Uguisudani-en

 Uguisudani-en Special Rump (though not as special as mine 😉)

Signature dishes

  • Special Rump
  • Rib Sirloin
  • Egg Gukbap (hot soup with rice)

Perfect for you

  • Best value Yakiniku in Tokyo
  • Bigger appetite that wants to eat a lot of Wagyu without hurting your wallet

Cons

  • Corners are cut to lower cost, and ultimately it’s down to individual preferences as to whether the trade off is worth it
  • Gas grill rather than binchotan (charcoal)
  • Even with a reservation, you may need to wait
  • Will need to take shoes off if you’re sitting upstairs

If you enjoyed Uguisudani-en, you may also like – 

Uguisudani-en (焼肉 鶯谷園)
Address – 1-5-15 Negishi, Taito City, Tokyo (map)
Phone – +81 3 3874-8717
Style – Traditional
Ambience – Casual
Grill – Gas (DIY)
Budget – ¥5,000~6,999
Reservation – Easy. Book a few weeks in advance.

Sumibiyaki Yuuji (炭火焼 ゆうじ) – The Horumon (Offal) Lover Yakiniku

Simply put, Yuuji specialises Horumon (Offal) and is the best place in Tokyo to have it (along with Sutamina-en). Horumon can vary significantly depending on quality and freshness but Yuuji goes one step further by adding seasoning that draws out or compliments the flavour of the Horumon.

The chef at Yuuji is the younger brother of the chef at the famous Higuchi (kappo) and it seems like the focus on high quality ingredients runs in the family.

Sumibiyaki Yuuji

One of many Horumon (Offal) dishes at Yuuji

Signature dishes

  • Horumon (Offal)

Perfect for you

  • Enjoy Horumon
  • Bumping elbows with locals

Cons

  • Cramped, hot and can be smoky 

If you enjoyed Yuuji, you may also like – 

Sumibiyaki Yuuji (炭火焼 ゆうじ)
Address – 11-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo (map)
Phone – +81 3 3464-6448
Style – Traditional
Ambience – Casual
Grill – Binchotan (DIY)
Budget – ¥8,000~9,999
Reservation – Moderate. Book a few weeks in advance.

Sato Briand (SATOブリアン) – The Lean Meat Yakiniku

Sato Briand is one of the bigger Yakiniku restaurant groups in Tokyo with five different restaurants. The best are Sato Briand Honten and Sato Briand Nigo, though the meat and courses are all meant to be the same.

Sato Briand’s is popular for their creative use of lean Wagyu, making it a favourite for those who want to find normal Yakiniku too heavy or intense. It’s also perfect for you if you love going to Yakiniku on a regular basis since Sato Briand allows you to have more Yakiniku meals with a smaller calorie footprint.

Sato Briand’s Matsutake Buri-meshi (Soy Butter Chateaubriand and Matsutake Rice topped with Garlic)

Signature dishes

  • Buri-meshi (Soy Butter Chateaubriand and Rice topped with Uni and Caviar)

Perfect for you

  • Prefer leaner beef
  • Find other Yakinikus too heavy
  • Want to be able to have Yakiniku regularly

Cons

  • Overall flavour may be lacking due to use of leaner Wagyu
  • Prioritises larger groups (4-8). Will be harder to find a reservation if you have less than 4
  • Gas grill rather than binchotan (charcoal)
  • Their Gyukatsu Sando was one of the worst renditions I’ve had

If you enjoyed Sato Briand, you may also like – 

Sato Briand (SATOブリアン) – Main Store
Address – 3-44-2 Asagayaminami, Suginami-ku (map)
Phone – +81 3 6915-1638
Style – Creative
Ambience – Refined
Grill – Gas (Chef/Waiter)
Budget – ¥10,000~19,999
Reservation – Moderate. Book a month in advance.

Yakiniku Restaurants that aren’t worth going to

  • Nikusho Horikoshi
    • Creativity and the Tare (Sauces) are good, but the meat and cooking skill lets it all down
    • Worst part is the shockingly poor value for money. ¥20,000+ and still hungry
  • Ushigoro S
    • All flash and no substance
    • Decor is nice, but the cooking skill is really variable
    • Creative but nothing unique here that you can’t get better else where

Wishlist

  • Sumiyaki Kinryusan (Tokyo) – Pls halp
  • Akasaka Raimon (Tokyo) – Sister store of Sumiyaki Kinryusan
  • Yakiniku Ibusana (Tokyo)
  • Nama Horumon Dokoro Osamuchan (Osaka)

Let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations for Yakiniku restaurants that you want me to hit up!

Conclusion

So there we have it, the Best Yakiniku Restaurants in Tokyo.

While I definitely have my own favourites, they say “the best camera is the one you have with you”, and by extension, the best Yakiniku Restaurant is the one you’re in the mood for and the one you can go to. Now. And often.

And with so many different styles, signature dishes, budgets and reservation policies, there’s a perfect Yakiniku Restaurant for everyone and every occasion.

So fellow foodies, what’s your favourite Yakiniku restaurant in the world?

One thought on “The Best Yakiniku in Tokyo (Japan)

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