[Tokyo] Top 10 Must-Try Yakiniku Restaurants Along the Yamanote Line
The JR Yamanote Line (henceforth referred to as "Yamanote Line") is a train line that is frequently used by people who are on a sightseeing trip in Tokyo. There are many famous restaurants found along its route, and from all of those spots, here are some of the best yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) restaurants that are also popular with tourists.
- What is the Yamanote Line?
- 1. Yakiniku-Tei Rokkasen (Shinjuku)
- 2. Nikutei FUTAGO Shinjuku Kabukicho Branch (Shinjuku)
- 3. USHIHACHI Shibuya Branch (Shibuya)
- 4. Ushigoro Bambina Shibuya Branch (Shibuya)
- 5. Daikanyama kintan (Ebisu)
- 6. Seiko-en Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Main Branch (Ikebukuro)
- 7. Isshin Tansuke Ueno Branch (Ueno)
- 8. PURE Shinagawa Branch (Shinagawa)
- 9. Seiyuzan (Shimbashi)
- 10. Hayami (Takadanobaba)
What is the Yamanote Line?
The Yamanote Line is a 20.6km train line on the JR Railway that connects together the central parts of Tokyo. It stops at 29 stations, including Tokyo and Shinagawa that offer convenient connections to the shinkansen (bullet train) and other train lines; Akihabara, which is considered as a sacred ground for otaku (enthusiasts); Harajuku, the birthplace of the kawaii (cute) culture; and the bustling business districts of Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro. Riding this line will make it easy for you to reach Tokyo's iconic areas.
1. Yakiniku-Tei Rokkasen (Shinjuku)
Located 2 minutes from Shinjuku Station on foot, Yakiniku-Tei Rokkasen is a place where you can enjoy beef that the chef himself carefully chooses, such as Matsusaka beef which is characterized by its sweet, refined aroma and smooth texture. The thickness of the beef slices depends on the type of beef: Matsusaka beef is served 8mm thick, while Kuroge Wagyu comes in 7mm-thick slices. This brings out more of the delicious umami of the meat. There are also a la carte dishes and numerous course meals. The all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink courses are also popular. Foreign language (English, simplified Chinese, and Thai) menus and English-speaking staff are available.
Price range: Lunch: From around 1,200 JPY, Dinner: From around 8,400 JPY
2. Nikutei FUTAGO Shinjuku Kabukicho Branch (Shinjuku)
Nikutei FUTAGO is about a 5-minute walk from Shinjuku Station. It is a restaurant that is known for its “nikuhako,” a boxed assortment of rare parts of A5 Kuroge Wagyu beef that is limited to one box per person. Six of the best beef cuts for that day are put together in this box, so you will get to enjoy the different tastes that various cuts offer. The a la carte dishes, such as sushi topped with lightly seared sirloin, are also popular, along with courses that come with a wide variety of appetizers and other side dishes. Foreign language (English and traditional/simplified Chinese) menus are available.
Price range: From around 8,000 JPY
3. USHIHACHI Shibuya Branch (Shibuya)
USHIHACHI is just a minute’s walk away from Shibuya Station. This restaurant offers every part of the cow, which is only possible because it buys carefully chosen Kuroge Wagyu cattle whole. It only procures female cattle, though, as they have tender meat, with fat that has a low melting point, so it melts on your tongue. There are many items in the menu, but the Toroniku 3-Byo Aburi (1,390 JPY (excl. tax)) boasts of a repeat order rate over 90%. It is a juicy dish in which thinly sliced premium meat parts (such as sirloin) are quickly grilled for 3 seconds on one side. English menus are available.
Price range: Lunch: From around 1,500 JPY, Dinner: From around 4,500 JPY
4. Ushigoro Bambina Shibuya Branch (Shibuya)
Ushigoro Bambina is located 2 minutes from JR Shibuya Station on foot. It is a restaurant you can visit on different occasions since every floor has a different vibe: the 1st floor is a casual standing bar, the 2nd floor is equipped with seating by tables, and the 3rd floor has cozy private and semi-private rooms. This restaurant only uses Kuroge Wagyu beef with a grade of A5, the highest grade possible. Its menu offers a la carte dishes that range from the simple burger to carpaccio of lean meat, as well as various luxurious course meals.
Price range: From around 6,000 JPY
5. Daikanyama kintan (Ebisu)
Located at a site that is about an 8-minute walk from Ebisu Station, kintan is a restaurant where you can savor a variety of dishes using Grade A5 branded beef. One of its most popular offerings is the dinner course that will let you enjoy various cuts of Sendai beef. You must try the Jukusei KINTAN to Gyutan no Tabekurabe (2,580 JPY (incl. tax)), a platter of assorted meats that will let you enjoy the robust meat flavors of meat that has been stored the right way, taking into consideration factors like temperature, humidity, wind direction, and so on.
Price range: Lunch: From around 2,000 JPY, Dinner: From around 8,000 JPY
6. Seiko-en Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Main Branch (Ikebukuro)
Located 2 minutes from Ikebukuro Station on foot, Seiko-en is a restaurant that was founded in 1970. It uses Grade A5 Kuroge Wagyu beef with a melt-in-the-mouth texture. This restaurant mainly serves Imari beef from Saga that has been getting rave reviews nationwide thanks to its tenderness, rich aroma, and sweetness that becomes more intense the more you chew. Recommended here are the opulent courses that incorporate rare meat parts. Foreign language (English and simplified Chinese) menus and Korean-speaking staff are available.
Price range: Lunch: From around 900 JPY, Dinner: From around 5,000 JPY
7. Isshin Tansuke Ueno Branch (Ueno)
With a location that is a 5-minute walk from Ueno Station, Isshin Tansuke is a popular restaurant that is always crowded with customers. Its signature dishes are the hand-formed sushi that uses wagyu sirloin as a topping and the thickly sliced Sendai beef tongue. Their all-you-can-eat Premium Course (4,980 JPY (excl. tax)) is recommended, as it will let you taste those specialty dishes on top of 60 other dishes, such as fine Kuroge Wagyu tenderloin yakiniku. This restaurant has been gaining popularity thanks to the great value of their food, which is said to “exceed 50% of the cost rate”. Foreign language (English and simplified Chinese) menus are available, as well as staff who can speak English and Chinese.
Price range: Lunch: From around 1,000 JPY, Dinner: From around 4,000 JPY
8. PURE Shinagawa Branch (Shinagawa)
PURE is just 3 minutes from Shinagawa Station on foot. It is a yakiniku restaurant that is directly run by the JA Zennoh Group (※), and it capitalizes on the benefits of being a part of it. Such benefits include being able to implement a "meat tracing system", wherein they are able to ensure the safety of meat by knowing where the cattle was born and raised, and the ability to procure fresh domestically grown vegetables and rice. Here, items such as the Kokusan Kuroge Wagyu Tokusen Rosu (special domestic Kuroge Wagyu sirloin) are recommended. The filling course meals that come with all-you-can-drink service are also popular.
Price range: Lunch: From around 1,150 JPY, Dinner: From around 4,500 JPY
(※) This refers to JA Zennoh Meat Foods Co., a company with the biggest share in the domestic livestock market that handles livestock from all JA production areas throughout Japan.
9. Seiyuzan (Shimbashi)
Seiyuzan is just a 3-minute walk from Shimbashi Station. Located on the 41st floor of a skyscraper, it is a place where you can enjoy elegant dining while marveling at the beautiful view of Tokyo from 215m above ground. This restaurant uses Grade A4 and Grade A5 Kuroge Wagyu beef handpicked by veteran meat connoisseurs that have been in the business for 30 years. They only pick fine-grained meat from cows and oxen, which are dry-aged for about 30 days to let diners enjoy the concentrated delicious flavors of aged meat. There are many items in the menu, but you should try the course meals that will let you taste the specialty dishes of this restaurant in small servings. English menus are available.
Price range: Lunch: From around 1,500 JPY, Dinner: From around 8,000 JPY
10. Hayami (Takadanobaba)
Hayami is a 4-minute walk from Takadanobaba Station. It is a popular restaurant that is supported by many meat lovers and gourmands. There are different meat parts available such as tenderloin, skirt, and tongue, but all of the cuts are basically characterized by their thickness, which is just like steak. This restaurant offers a variety of dishes in its menu, from side dishes like salads, up to luxurious course meals. You should definitely try their signature dish Nikumeshi (980 JPY) as your last dish when you dine. It is a hearty dish with slices of meat piled on top of rice that is imbued in a sweet sauce and the delicious flavors of meat.
Price range: From around 3,500 JPY
One of the biggest appeals of the restaurants along the Yamanote Line is their accessibility, which makes it easy for customers to drop in while they are exploring the city. Make sure to try delicious yakiniku with this article as your guide!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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