Head to Ueno for mouth watering grilled beef tongue

Head to Ueno for mouth watering grilled beef tongue

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Gyutan, or grilled beef tongue, is originally known as a local delicacy of Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture. Its unique tender-yet-crispy texture has been a fascination of locals and tourists alike. You can find beef tongue at many restaurants and is a great meal when you want to splurge to celebrate a special occasion.

Beyond the nice texture, gyutan is also considered a healthy dish since it’s not oily nor is it heavy. The balanced, delicate meat is also a perfect munchie to accompany beer or sake at the izakaya.

To try this delicacy, I visited Negishi, a popular restaurant chain with locations all over the Kanto Plain. The Ueno location is the one my wife and I frequent when we enjoy the area museums and concert hall. Negishi serves up a tasty beef tongue and oxtail soup at great prices and our meals there wrap up our busy day in Ueno nicely.

Negishi is right across JR Ueno Station at the entrance of the vast Ameyoko shopping area. Look for the Delicious Plaza building and you’ll find the Negishi Uenoekimae-ten has two restaurants, one on the B1 floor and one on the second floor. We usually go to the B1 location because it is less crowded and the wooden interior with dim lighting lets us enjoy our meal in a calm and relaxing atmosphere.

Once seated, my go-to is the Negishi Set for 2,050 yen ($15). This set comes with well-seasoned and grilled portions of beef tongue with a side of oxtail soup, ground yamato yam, steamed barley and rice, and miso-flavored pickles.

To begin, I top my rice bowl with the yam and enjoy the distinct flavors each bite of meat provides. My favorite is the crisp, tender beef tongue, which pairs well with the texture of the rice and freshness of the yam.

The oxtail soup is clear, light and is not over seasoned to allow the main ingredient to remain the star of the show. The taste of the oxtail and the broth are mild yet profound and it is a perfect addition to the set meal.

I also never forget to get a free refill of barley and rice to have with the miso pickles as a palate cleanser.

Negishi has other locations, so check their website to find one close to you.

Though beef tongue might intimidate those who’ve never tried it, I recommend giving it a shot at Negishi. The sets here give you an opportunity to sample the delicacy while ensuring you have a full meal with the other meats and dishes. Bon appetite!

Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Location: 6-14-7 [Delicious Plaza B1] Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3834-7320

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