Review of Rokkasen
Last year I visited Rokkasen, a steakhouse in Tokyo, only to be denied entry. A year to the day later, I was back in Tokyo and wasn’t going to be denied a second time.
Rokkasen is an essential Tokyo steakhouse experience. Situated next to Shinjuku station (the world’s busiest
maze train station), you cook your own meat ‘Yakiniku’ style: on grills inset into the table. It’s a fun and social way of eating Wagyu (Japanese beef).
There are three tiers of all you can eat Yakiniku at Rokkasen, all of which also have an all you can drink options (nomihodai). The budget Kaede menu at ¥9130 Yen (£66/$83USD), gets you a simple set of meat cuts and carbs along with seafood like prawns and scallops. The Kikyo menu at ¥13,020 (£94/$119USD) includes the basic menu along with more premium Wagyu (Japanese beef) including short rib and spenser roll, but the real star is the premium Manyro menu which includes all of the previous menus along with A5 (highest grade) Matsusaka sirloin, short rib and other premium meats like premium Fillet. This will set you back a fairly significant ¥27,470 (£197/$250USD). You get 90 minutes to make orders and a further 30 minutes after orders end to finish.
I had some major internal debates about whether I could justify spending £197 on the Manyro menu. I eventually justified it on the basis of consumption: If I ate enough Matsusaka steak and washed it down with enough sake or whiskey, then it was absolutely 100% fully and completely justified.
What is Matsusaka Steak?
Matsusaka is a brand of Wagyu (Japanese beef) from Tajima strain cows that are raised and slaughtered in Matsusaka and fed a special diet (more on Matsusaka steak here). It is considered superior to Kobe beef inside Japan. Outside of Japan it is incredibly rare and if you do find it, then you’ll be set back £100 per 100g.
Matsusaka steak is insanely expensive. This steak is expensive for two reasons: there’s only limited numbers of Tajima cows being raised in Matsusaka and only the highest grade meat from Matsusaka Tajima are branded as Matsusaka steak.
Fire and smoke
I decided to go all in on the Matsusaka Manyo menu. The staff double checked I was comfortable with the steep price. They took the initial order in person (Matsusaka sirloin, short rib and sake) and showed me how to use the tablet on the table to make my next order. The first serving of food arrived in less than a minute.
I placed the steak on the grill, turned the heat up, and started to cook the steak. As I flipped the steak, flames from the fire roared up, lashing at my fingers. I bit into the steak and the juices flooded my mouth with a delicious buttery goodness. It’s all melt in the mouth and no chew, but lacks the kind of beefiness you’d find in the West. I also ordered one set of the premium Fillet (which wasn’t Matsusaka brand). It was tender and juicy, but didn’t taste right. I stuck to the Matsusaka sirloin and short rib.
I used the tablet to order more Matsusaka sirloin. It arrived in under a minute, ready for me to cook. The service was exceptional, even by Japanese standards.
I worked my way through five of the 200g Matsusaka steaks and another five of the smaller Matsusaka rib slices. Due to the ridiculously high fat content, the steak is rich and pretty damn filling.
About 85 minutes in the restaurant our incredibly polite waitress informed us that our 90 minutes were over. We entered into a battle of politeness where I advised them that they were mistaken and I still had five minutes left, they rebuffed but I held my ground and they conceded. I immediately punched in orders for another 200g slice of Matsusaka sirloin steak, a set of Matsusaka short rib and a glass of whiskey.
I grilled my last set of Matsusaka sirloin pieces and drunkenly swirled my final glass of whiskey, satisfied that I had extracted maximum value and that the spend of £197 was absolutely, completely and fully justified. Though, I doubt that the all you can eat menu is designed for westerners with bottomless pits for stomachs, which is why you have me to thank if the price is higher for your visit.
Rokkasen is an essential Tokyo experience for steak lovers. Although the premium menu is pricey, you get an unlimited amount of the world’s best and most expensive steaks. I like to think that life is defined by great steak eating experiences and Rokkasen is certainly one of my greatest steak experiences.
Steak Society tips:
- Book in advance. You can do this here. A credit card authorisation is required to secure your booking.
- You’ll be cooking the steak yourself over a grill inset in your table. Raw meat is delivered to your table.
- You can choose all you can eat, a la carte and have an option to add all you can drink as well.
- Its only ¥2000 (£14/$18USD) extra for all you can drink, so you’d be mad not to.
- There are also shabu shabu (hot pot) options, but that’d be a silly waste.
- Wagyu is different from the type of steak we eat in the West, so comparing Wagyu to our beef is a bit like comparing a lager to an IPA. You need to appreciate each as a distinct style.
- There is no need to tip at Rokkasen.
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