For people with halal dietary restrictions or for people who just want to eat great and affordable Japanese yakiniku BBQ, Yakiniku Panga is the place to go! What's more, what you are served here is authentic, beautifully marbled wagyu (Japanese beef)!
Yakiniku Panga - Where You Can Enjoy Halal Wagyu Yakiniku!
Yakiniku Panga is a halal-certified yakiniku (Korean BBQ) restaurant located in Taito-ku, at about a 15-minute walk from the JR Ueno Station or an 8-minute walk from the Okachimachi station. It is definitely one of the most reputable establishment for having Japan's famous wagyu (Japanese beef) yakiniku-style. For all people in Japan with Halal dietary restrictions looking to have a great yakiniku experience, this place is highly recommended!
The manager of the restaurant, Mr. Hiroaki Sato, had been running Panga for many years before making the Halal transition some three years ago. It was made possible thanks to a friendly collaboration with an Imam of the nearby As-Salaam Mosque.
The restaurant has the warmth and authenticity of a great yakiniku place! There are plenty of Muslim patrons that come from overseas (including some high-level dignitaries) but the place has been very popular with the locals too because it offers a quality of yakiniku that Japanese connaisseur recognize and love!
We had the chance to visit the popular establishment for dinner. Here are two recommended assortments by Mr. Sato.
Premium Wagyu Beef Assortment
for three people [¥8,500]
The first thing that must be said is that for wagyu, the price is surprisingly reasonable! You might be wondering how it is even possible to get such a good price for Halal wagyu in Japan. The answer to that is that instead of buying the meat piece by piece, Mr. Sato is in direct contact with a wagyu beef rancher in the Iwate Prefecture and purchases a whole animal to be prepared Halal in Tokyo.
For the premium wagyu beef assortment pictured above at ¥8,500, you get on one platter four kinds of nicely marbled different cuts of wagyu (cuts vary depending on what is available). On another platter, you are served a big piece of sirloin steak with some garlic butter. As for vegetables, the assortment also comes with a big salad and three different kinds of Korean pickled vegetables, including kimchi. There's also two kinds of dipping sauce, a soy-based and a lemon one.
The sirloin steak is most definitely the piece de resistance of the assortment! Japanese people judge the quality of raw meat by its marbling and lustre. This one definitely gets high grades for both!
High Grade Wagyu Platter
for three people [¥6,900]
Another recommended assortment is the High-Grade Wagyu Platter. Slightly cheaper than the Premium assortment, it includes five kinds of wagyu cuts but doesn't include the sirloin steak. The salad and pickles accompaniments are the same.
The Best Way To Grill Wagyu
The most striking characteristic of wagyu is its high fat content. Because of the dripping fat that fuels the fire, wagyu tends to cook quickly.
Be careful not to overcook! Mr. Sato really stressed this point. According to him, wagyu tastes the best when it's cooked until it is about medium rare. At that point, it still retains a lot of its fat content that makes it irresistibly tender.
Every piece is already seasoned with either a soy-based sauce or lightly salted. You can enjoy the pieces as they are or dip them in the sauces that come with the assortment. Pieces that are salted (such as beef tongue for instance) are best enjoyed with the lemon sauce, and pieces that are seasoned with the soy-based sauce, are best enjoyed with the "yakiniku tare" (soy-based dipping sauce).
If you want to have some rice or noodle dishes along with your beef assortment, you might want to try the Bulgogi Pibimbap or the Beef and Vegetable Spicy Ramen! They are good dishes to finish your meal with if you are still hungry.
Also, for those who are looking for supreme quality wagyu, note that you can order some grade A5 (highest grade) Satsuma Beef, which is recognized as being just as good - if not better some years - than the legendary Kobe Beef!
How about enjoying some delicious Halal wagyu beef at Yakiniku Panga? The place is really worth the go because of its nice atmosphere and really delicious cuts of beef! Remember, this restaurant is very popular with the locals, which says a lot about the reliably good taste you'll get!