It always surprises people when I tell them I have no yakiniku recommendations for Tokyo, or Japan in general, because I’ve hardly ever had yakiniku in my life. Case in point, it’s been seven months since I moved to Tokyo and I’ve only had it twice. I don’t eat much red meat usually and for some reason, the company I’m usually with aren’t very partial to it either.
I first heard of Yakiniku Daichi after coming across Daichi Toriyama’s account on Instagram, which features some very aesthetically pleasing cuts of meat. Since becoming familiar with the brand, I realised that I’ve actually passed it countless of times because it is fairly close to where I live. The recent contingent of family and family friends coming to visit Tokyo seemed like a good time as any to finally give Yakiniku Daichi a try.
My previous experience eating barbecue-oriented food in Australia (whether KBBQ or Aussie or otherwise) has always been about surrounding yourself with as much meat as possible before surrendering to a food-induced self-loathing kind of coma. It’s usually pretty tasty at the time, but I always end up regretting it afterwards. Daichi was nothing like this as portions seemed to be just enough to give you a taste of the different cuts. Almost all of it was unseasoned, allowing natural flavours to shine through. Although if you needed it, there was salt and soy sauce at the ready. Below are some of the menu highlights:
ウニ肉, uniniku is fresh uni wrapped inside a slice of seared wagyu beef. This is hands down the best thing I ate at Yakiniku Daichi and one of the most memorable meat dishes I’ve had in Tokyo so far. My recommendation is to not bite it in half to falsely prolong the experience, just put the whole thing in (or as Jeff would say, one-bite). By doing this, you preserve every last drop of uni that will inevitably burst through, coating the beef in a creamy, salty sauce explosion. The slice of beef itself is flavoursome enough but when combined with sea urchin, this surf and turf taken to an all new level. Meat cravings might be rare but when I have one, I know this is what I’ll be thinking about.
ユッケ, yukke is beef tartare with an organic egg yolk. I like how the beef is diced here, not too much that it loses texture and becomes mushy, not too little that the chunks are chewy.
ザブスキ, zabusuki is sukiyaki-flavoured chuck flap and it disproves my previous point as this is meat that has been marinated. But I actually found it pretty interesting, not least because you got to smother it in raw egg yolk.
肉ＴＫＧ, niku tamago kake gohan looks like food for the gods and based on everyone’s opinion that night, confirms that it probably is. There is seriously something about fresh egg yolks in Japan that elevate any dish.
Also worth mentioning is the kimchi and namool side dishes as well as the 豆苗塩昆布 (toumyou shio kombu) pea sprouts with salted kombu, we ordered three to four plates of it!
I made our booking a bit over two weeks in advance. It’s a fairly small place so booking ahead is probably recommended, to avoid disappointment. But the fact that you can book in weeks as opposed to months and that it’s not invite-only, makes it a really appealing option for travellers. The meat is definitely very high quality, and honestly, I would go back just for the uniniku. They have an English menu (in the shop and online) and the staff not only spoke a bit of English, but were very accommodating. Last and probably most importantly, they have mouthwash and other hygiene apparatus that help mitigate that ‘I just came from yakiniku’ smell, should you be kicking on elsewhere afterwards like I did.
Yakiniku Daichi Roppongi
4 Chome-12-11 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0032