Yakiniku Jumbo Hanare
Marvel comics talent scout C.B. Cebulski describes eating at the counter in this temple of grilled meat as an education in butchery and flavor: “Each meat is treated like sushi, grilled a different way with a different sauce or seasoning, depending on what they get that day.” – source, Food & Wine.
As a devoted carnivore and a huge fan of Japanese wagyu beef, I’m always on a look-out for a new restaurant to indulge in my guilty pleasures. One of my favorite ways to enjoy the meat is yakiniku – there is something comforting when you gather around the charcoal (or gas-lit) grill and cook your meat. Is there anything more enticing than the smell of a grilled meat? I really don’t think so.
We really don’t have to go far to enjoy a great yakiniku, our favorite spot is one stop away and serves great Japanese beef. But during our recent Tokyo staycation weekend we decided to check out the local favorite, Yakiniku Jumbo Hanare, and I absolutely loved it. The restaurant is located in the most unassuming residential area (10 minutes away from Chidorigafuchi) and has 2 venues right across the street from one another. One has tables on tatami floors, while the other has a bar that seats 6 (which we dined at).
The original Yakiniku Jumbo was established in 1988 and gained a steady following by its customers for its use of only A5 Kuroge Wagyu – the highest rank of Japanese beef. In consequent years, three more restaurants – Shirokane, Hongo and Hanare – opened in different locations. From what I know, the place is insanely popular among locals and international gourmands, thus the reservation is a must well in advance. Sadly, they do not speak English over the phone, so you’ll have to use concierge or a friend to book a spot for you.
You can order individual cuts, and a variety of dishes, but we went with omakase set, which included beef tongue and heart, plus three more cuts. We then asked for add-ons based on what we liked most. Among many things we tried, lightly broiled wagyu sushi with rice boiled in genmaicha (green tea with roasted brown rice), and super-thin, shabu-shabu-like yakishabu beef slices dipped in raw egg yolk were my absolute favorites.
They also have delicious kimchi platter and a side of rice is always a must with your grilled meat. To make sure you get the best taste of your meat and don’t overcook it, the server grills your meat and tells you which sauce to use with each slice. Honestly, he was working with insane pace and we felt a bit rushed in the beginning, so if the same happens with you make sure you tell him you want to take your time. Otherwise, the dinner was insanely good – rich and flavorful Japanese beef cooked to perfection and melting in your palate. I wish I had been hungrier (we ate multi-course late lunch the same day) and tried more things on the menu, but I’ll definitely return.