Tasty Korean BBQ lunch near Hardy Barracks a steal

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

In Japan, yakiniku, as Korean BBQ is known, is a special occasion meal. With upwards of 3,000 yen (about 29 dollars) or more per person for unlimited food and drinks for a 90-minute time slot depending on the restaurant, this is usually reserved for dinner outings. Because of the time limits, cost and amount of food that is usually consumed, it is also rare for yakiniku restaurants to have weekday lunch hours.

In the center of Tokyo, however, Nikugen, offers a quick and tasty BBQ lunch set catering to the suit-and-tie lunch bunch in the Roppongi area.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and weekends, the restaurant opens its doors and serves up large portions of fresh meat, all-you-can-eat rice and seaweed soup. This is one of mine and my coworkers’ favorite places to go when we’re in the mood for something beyond the convenience store bento.

The restaurant itself, on the second floor of a high-rise, gives the aura of a fancy diner or high-end bar with dim lighting, a wine cellar in the entryway, windowless seating area and stylish, dark tables and chairs.

While the spacious interior can accommodate more than 100 guests, the restaurant coordinates the floor for various groups, such as couples, large parties and families with children, to better meet the needs of their patrons.

Each table is equipped with a Korean-style iron grill, perfect for firing up the fresh slices of meat yourself. From the dining area, you can watch as the cooks cut the meat before serving each set, ensuring a fresh slice every time.

The shop uses top-choice black Angus beef, matured meats stored more than 40 days in a so-called “wet-aging” method. This method means the beef is stored in its own juices from butcher to the point of slicing at the restaurant, according to the food magazine Kitchn.

Depending on the cuts and type of meat you want to enjoy, Nikugen offers various different sets and an English menu to make ordering easier. Some sets include beef tongue, pork cuts, bibimbap (Korean rice dish), or cold noodle soup.

I always go for the regular yakiniku lunch set for 1,000 yen (around $9). The set features a plate of three different meats - thinly sliced loin meat, matured premium rib and dolce-Bosque pork - along with two types of sauces (spicy miso and garnished soy sauce), kimchi, salad, rice, seaweed soup and iced tea.

And the service here is quick, so I always get my tray of food within five minutes after ordering.

The matured Angus beef is really tender and tasty and goes well with the broth and salad. The set is filling, but if you have a big appetite, don’t forget you can refill your rice and soup.

At the end of meal, you can order soft-cream ice cream for only 100 yen, a great way to end a delicious lunch.

Within walking distance from Hardy Barracks, Nikugen is worth a stop for stepping outside the standard ham sandwich or curry bento.

What’s more, the Roppongi branch serves the lunch set menu all week, including weekends, making this a great option if you’re bringing your family. Nikugen has other restaurants in Akasaka in Tokyo and Sendai City in Miyagi Pref. While these restaurants are similar, the menu items and hours are slightly different, so visit their websites or check the info below before visiting.

You won’t regret getting out of the office for this one.
 

Nikugen (Roppongi)
Hours: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. - midnight (Lunch: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Sunday)
Location: 7-15-17 [2F] Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo (seven-minute walk from Hardy Barracks) 
URL: www.nikugen.jp/index.html
Tel: 050-5269-7545

Nikugen (Akasaka)
Hours: Mon – Sat, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – midnight; Sun and holidays 5 p.m. - midnight
Location: 2-14-33 [2F] Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo (one-minute walk from Akasaka Station of Chiyoda-line)
URL: www.nikugen.jp/akasaka-food/
Tel: 050-5269-7546

Nikugen (Sendai)
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – midnight.
Location: 4-2-10 [4F] Ichibancho, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Pref. (2-minute walk from Hirosedoori Station of Manboku-line)
URL: www.nikugen.jp/sendai-food/
Tel: 050-5269-7544

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