Sumibi Yakiniku Nakahara, Tokyo
EM has checked into … Sumibi Yakiniku Nakahara, Tokyo
Other than sushi, beef is the second most mentioned ‘must-have’ when anyone talks about what to eat in Japan. And there’s a very good reason why. Since Japanese takes pride of their ingredients and produces, you can guarantee that you will have an incredible journey of tasting what a Japanese beef is like.
Living in Melbourne, we still have access to great Australian beef with incredible flavours. I don’t think we can compare Australian vs Japanese beef ever, it comes down to preferences and what you feel like. If I have to put a difference from my point of view, Japanese beef has this magical touch to be able to melt in your mouth like a gentle melody whereas Australian beef has a more solid and bolder flavour to it.
I have heard that this restaurant not only serves excellent yakiniku but they specialises in LEGENDARY ox tongue. Although there has been some mixed reviews about this place, I thought that I need to experience it myself and see how it goes!
I have made a reservation through Pocket Concierge so the meal is already decided for me and pre-paid for. After I have seated at my table and ordered my drinks, the food instantly come at an extremely fast-paced. As if they are telling us to hurry up and get out of there. There was no explanation on what my menu will be like on the evening which I really had no idea since there is no menu displayed at Pocket Concierge website. All I know is that I get to taste the legendary ox-tongue on the website that’s it.
So without any knowledge of how many courses I will be expecting and lack of education from the wait staff, I was left stranded to just listen to what the wait staff say at each course and not knowing whether dinner will be short or long. Since we have paid quite a high amount for this restaurant (approximately $250 per person), we expected a better service. Such a let down!
1. Potato soup with corned beef and Wagyu consommé jelly
An interesting appetiser but a smart invention by their chef to interpret a Western dish and make it more Japanese. The soup was served cold which was interesting but the star of the dish was the Wagyu consommé jelly, it brings out a stronger umami flavour to the soup.
2. Beef tartare
Just a normal beef tartare, can’t go wrong with this if you have premium beef already.
3. Three different cuts of tongue
I was so excited to see them bringing the coal stove - and again remember I have mentioned that they didn’t explain anything. So when I saw this, I was like YES we are about to taste the legendary ox tongue!
And sure enough, it was LEGENDARY! The meat was so tender that it melts in your mouth but still had a slight bite of the firm texture. And the flavour was so sweet yet umami. 10/10!
As the title suggested, just a salad with fresh vegetables and root vegetables. I like the purple potato, something new and interesting.
5. Legendary beef blanket
And again I didn’t quite catch what the wait staff was saying so I’m calling this The Legendary Beef Blanket. Wish I can wrap myself with this! The meat was sliced like a blanket and only took 3 to 5 seconds to cook. Once it hit your tongue (IRONIC isn’t it?!), it instantly melted with full of the sweet BBQ and umami beef flavour. It’s like grilled beef jerky but a million times better. SO GOOD!
6. Rib eye and tendon (I think…)
Once more, didn’t quite catch what the wait staff was describing. I hope I got it right, if not then who cares, the meat so far had been excellent so I didn’t really care too much on what cut the meat was.
7. Ox tail soup
This was pleasantly surprisingly good. Just the way how I like it! Most of the ox tail soup that I have tried were too creamy and thick for my liking (it’s just the matter of preference, not to say that all ox tail soup in the world taste bad). This is different with a lighter consistency and filled with more Shiitake mushroom flavour.
This part was the last meat cut of the grilled beef course and I was so glad that they saved the best for the last. This was a MIND-BLOWN factor. It was similar to the previous beef blanket cut but way better and way thicker. Made me feel so much more satisfying to savour this piece of meat slowly although I know that it will be the end of a beef opera.
I know what you are thinking about, stomach?! EW! But trust me, when you are in Japan, you can be rest assured that the quality of the insides of the animal product will be just the same as per the meat. I quite like the stomach part as it has a gelatinous and popping sensation, like how you would eat a calamari. This one in particular was so delicious with the slight charred bits at the end.
A Japanese classic staple dish - sliced beef with rice. Normally it would be served with a raw egg or soft-boiled egg but for this restaurant, it was served with kimchi and pickled cucumber. Maybe they were thinking to bring a refreshing element to this dish after all that meat drama. But the more I savour this dish, the more I was yearning for the missing egg element. So yeah the kimchi and pickled cucumber were still a question mark for me, especially when you have spent $250 for this meal.
11. Pistachio ice cream
If you are familiar with omakase/Japanese fine dining, you will know that dessert isn’t an extravagant dish. It is kept simple and often it will be either green tea ice cream or fruit. But surprisingly this restaurant offered pistachio ice cream which was unique.
Until this day, I am still struggling on how I truly felt about my experience with this restaurant and whether I would recommend this place at all. Ultimately, it came down to the factor of ‘what will I expect if I pay this much’. This restaurant did cost me $250 per person and that would already be classified as a fancier status than regular restaurant plus they have a strong reputation within local and international markets.
What I found disappointing:
1. Lack of menu/informative explanation at the start or before meal begins to set expectations right
Like I have mentioned previously, I was being led blind not knowing how many courses or what I was expecting out of this meal. It was a torture not knowing how fast or slow we should pace ourselves since we have paid quite a high price for it. We have made our reservation through Pocket Concierge website but the menu wasn’t displayed there (Naturally, after all it would have changed on a daily basis).
When we got our dessert, we were told to finish it off quickly as we had to get out at 8pm. I was puzzled at this because they didn’t mention that the restaurant was closed at 8pm or if there was a second seating/session. Either way, COULDN’T THEY SAID THIS AT THE BEGINNING SO THAT WE CAN INCREASE OUR PACE?! Mind you, we are fast eaters anyway but if they would have told this information at the beginning, we would respect that and made sure we will be out by 8pm.
2. Rushed service/poor service standards
I was so SHOCKED to witness that they would clear my husband’s plate even though I haven’t even finish my plate halfway through. It is a big NO NO in the F&B industry and indirectly telling me that I should hurry the f*** up. It can be considered as a rude gesture within the F&B service standards especially in the fine dining environment. And not only they did it once, but they repeatedly do it all the time. It was a slap on my face really.
And again, I understand that the restaurant wanted us to finish by 8pm but couldn’t this problem be avoided if they would have informed us so at the beginning of the meal/before we start the meal?
3. Please print an English menu or note
Ok so maybe they are shy or don’t want to speak English, I get it. Then couldn’t the restaurant at least print off an English sheet to inform customers as well as menu? I see plenty of regular casual restaurants in Japan do this anyway, so why can’t a fancier restaurant do the same? It is also a nice gesture to receive an English menu so that at least we know what we are eating. Don’t forget, you are paying big bucks for this meal so wouldn’t your want to be treated a little bit more important or feel a bit more valued?
So in summary, if you have $250 to spare and you really want to taste the legendary ox tongue, then go for it. BUT you should ignore the service aspect out of your experience. If service is quite important to you (Naturally, after all you are paying a larger price for a meal), then don’t bother. I’m sure you can get equally good beef at other places in Tokyo.
So really the $250 price tag is just to pay off the beef. If you can think of it that way, then you should be good. Do you have any other places to recommend? If so, please let me know! I would love to try it out!
Till next time, take care and stay inspired.