Shima Steakhouse in Nihonbashi offers taste of wagyu
As the first half of my birthday was such a huge success after visiting the Shibazakura Festival, we were even more excited for the evening – dinner at allegedly one of the best wagyu beef restaurants in Tokyo was in order. Steakhouse Shima is whelmed by Chef Oshima Manabu is truly one of the most charming chefs in Tokyo. They all speak very good English and reservation was also a breeze. You will experience top-notch hospitality no matter where you go in Tokyo, but at Shima we were greeted like relatives visiting the family – with big smiles and warmest welcome I’ve ever experienced. The space here is very cozy, with 6 counter seats and a handful of tables along the adjacent narrow room. It all feels very homey and lively. Sadly, we didn’t get the counter seat (that’s where all the action is), although it was nice to have a bit of privacy on a romantic date night.
The menu is quite simple with number of appetizers and two choices of wagyu beef steaks – sirloin and fillet. Before making reservation at the restaurant, I read that Oshima-san supplies wagyu from a ranch in Kyoto as well as offers Tajima beef from Kobe. None of this was true on the day of our visit, the wagyu of the day was from Kagoshima, Kyushu Prefecture. Wanting to try both cuts we ordered fillet and sirloin each. Prices at Shima are truly reasonable compared to other restaurants in Tokyo.
We started off with a bottle of red – Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia – which had a great depth of flavor. I ordered freshly sucked oyster from Hokkaido as an appetizer. It was so meaty, bigger that the palm of my hand and came with the most delicious house-made sauce. Polishing it off in no time, I snuck bites from Justin’s mouthwatering plate of marinated salmon with fennel and capers – it was outstanding.
While waiting for the steaks, we also noshed on the freshly baked bread and butter, courtesy of our friendly hostess.
Before cooking your steak, the show will demonstrate the raw cuts for you to admire the marbling and then whisk it away to cook. Steaks at Shima are grilled on binchotan charcoal which allows the fat to slowly melt, thus yielding tender and juicy steak.
Our steaks were flawlessly grilled to medium rare with beautiful char on the outside. After comparing the two cuts, I’d recommend sirloin over fillet. The latter was still tasty, but in my opinion it lacked the flavor that fattier pieces of wagyu have. Justin’s beef melt in your mouth, with incomparable mouth-filling savoriness.
We chose to skip the dessert here in favor of dessert tasting menu at Janice Wong immediately after. Instead, we finished our bottle of wine and nibbled on complimentary petite four. I’ve also heard that Oshima-san gives complimentary wagyu sandwiches to take home at the end of the dinner, although we got a house-baked cheesecake to enjoy the next day with coffee. Honestly, it was delicious!
Every food enthusiast will have different opinion, but I personally prefer teppanyaki grill restaurants, my top dinner experiences in Japan still being Ishida Honten in Kobe, Hafuu Honten in Kyoto and Ukai-tei Omotesando in Tokyo. However, I’d still recommend Shima as a great place to savor wagyu beef in Tokyo – with reasonable price, friendliest hospitality and great food it is very hard to beat.
Please mind that the restaurant has very discreet entrance and is quite easy to miss. It is tucked away in the basement of an office building in Nihonbashi. Take Central Yaesu exit at Tokyo Station and head down the main avenue all the way to the Tully’s on the corner. You’ll notice a tiny sign and narrow staircase taking you down to the restaurant.