Nikugatou Yakiniku is a casual specialty Japanese barbecue restaurant in the Ningyocho district of Tokyo that focuses on top-quality beef cuts and offcuts like offal.
Yakiniku restaurants are a dime a dozen all across Japan, but Nikugatou Yakiniku is a temple enshrined to beef in its own unique way. Located in the Ningyocho district within the Chuo ward of Tokyo, about a 20-minute walk from Tokyo Station, this particular yakiniku eatery sets itself apart from the rest with irreverent creativity.
That’s right. While the bulk of yakiniku restaurants in Tokyo prefer to regale diners with provenance by scouring the whole of Japan for the rarest and most impressive marbled cuts of cow – think Matsusaka from Mie Prefecture, Kobe beef from Hyogo Prefecture, or Shiga Prefecture’s Omi, for example – it is what Nikugatou Yakiniku does with its beef that elevates them above many others.
The best way to experience Nikugatou is to order its preset courses; there’s a regular course menu coming in at ¥6,000 (~S$60) with 16 items using standard beef, while the ¥9,000 (~S$90) version offers branded cuts such as Omi’s pure-bred Tajima. There’s another off-menu option too; Nikugatou’s omakase course, available only via pre-order at ¥12,000 (~S$120), is what you really want.
It’s with the omakase set course that the iconoclastic yakiniku restaurant’s creativity comes most to the fore. Here the carefully curated different beef cuts are presented in various forms, and not just as pieces of meat for you to sear on the grill. Among the first items to arrive will be nikuzushi, for example. One course has you sear lean wagyu rump that you eat dipped in egg sukiyaki-style, yet another sees aged filet slowly basted in a garlic-infused soy-dashi-butter broth for a most tender bite. Or juicy karubi – short rib – dusted with truffle salt.
Nikugatou has a special penchant for horumon (offal) too. For your yakiniku searing pleasure you’ll find parts such as heart, tongue, stomach, all of which have been perfectly cleaned and devoid of any gaminess one may be squeamish about.
To end off the meal there was even a wagyu slider, not something you normally see offered at a yakiniku joint.
Nikugatou Yakiniku has cemented itself in our itineraries every time we drop into Tokyo, ever since a foodie friend alerted us to it back in 2015 when they first opened. And despite the rise in prices over the years, the quality has not dipped one iota. If you ever deign to visit, make sure you get a Japanese friend or the hotel concierge to make reservations.
And order the secret omakase course.
PS: Nikugatou Yakiniku is a chain now; we visited the Tokyo Ningyocho outlet but check out their website for other locations.
[Photos by Joel Lim Photography]
Nikugatou Yakiniku (にくがと)
Address 1 Chome-6-7 Nihonbashihoridomecho, Chuo City, Tokyo 103-0012, Japan (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 5pm to 11pm Tuesdays to Fridays; 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 11pm Saturdays and Sundays; closed on Mondays
Tel (81) 3-3668-2910