Jiromaru is a tachigui (stand and eat) yakiniku restaurant in Okachimachi, near Ueno Park in central Tokyo. The chef is a beef expert and chooses only the highest-quality cuts of meat to serve each day. If you're curious about tachigui, or you want to try some high-grade wagyu at an affordable price, Jiromaru is definitely worth a visit!
Have you heard of tachigui (立ち食い) restaurants before? in space-limited Tokyo, these standing-only restaurants can be found throughout the city. Usually, they are a great place for a busy office worker to grab a quick and tasty bite at lunch or dinner time, and the price is usually quite affordable. 'Jiromaru' in Okachimachi near Ueno Park is a tachigui restaurant that specializes in Japanese barbeque! The chef here is a meat specialist who chooses the very best cuts of meat each day and serves it by the slice for customers to cook on a personal, countertop grill. It's a thoroughly Japanese experience that offers a casual and quick way to enjoy some very high-quality cuts of meat (including A5 wagyu!).
Ordering at Jiromaru
The meat offered at Jiromaru changes daily based on what the chef decides is high-quality enough to purchase and serve. Wooden signs are hung on the wall showing which cuts are available on that day, and you can order your preferred meat by the slice! In case you can't read the Japanese signs, there are menus in English or Chinese that describe each cut of meat and correspond to the wooden signs, allowing you to order easily.
Handy English menu
If you're unsure what to order, you can also just look at the meats sitting behind the cooler glass and point to what looks good!
A slice of meat varies in price from just 30 yen for horumon (innards) to 300 yen for the highest-quality cuts, including A5 rank wagyu (A5 is the highest rank). This means that you can try a huge variety of meats, including super-premium wagyu for a very reasonable price! As you order each meat, the chef will cut slices from the hunk of fresh meat and serve it to you on a plate. You can then grill it yourself as you please on the small countertop grill! Try several different cuts, or order more of the ones you like and keep eating until you get full!
The meat is served already seasoned, so the chef recommends that customers grill and eat it as is, without adding extra sauce or salt. This allows the eater to enjoy all the wonderful flavor complexities that distinguish each cut of meat.
Salt, ponzu, and tare are available but trust me, you won't need them!
Meats to Try
There are a couple of tasting sets available if you're really unsure of what to order, otherwise, here are a couple of recommendations that were particularly delicious:
(#18) A5 'Tatebara' or 'Short Plate' (meat from the ribs), ¥300/slice
A5 is the highest rank of wagyu (Japanese beef), and there is almost always at least one cut of A5 meat available at Jiromaru (sometimes there is even Kobe beef if you're lucky). We tried number 18, the A5 'Short Plate,' which is a special cut of meat from the ribs.
It only needs a light grilling
The meat is divinely soft, and the plentiful fat melts away in your mouth. It's an umami-filled mouthful of beefy heaven that is exceptional. Be sure not to grill the nicer cuts of meat for too long! About 20 seconds on each side should be plenty. High-quality wagyu is best enjoyed rare.
(#8) A4 'Ichibo' or 'Aitchbone,' ¥300/slice
The chef kindly explained that although A5 wagyu is the most expensive, many Japanese people actually prefer the slightly lower fat content of A4 wagyu, which can actually add more complexity to the flavor and texture of the meat. This cut of A4 'Aitchbone' was a great example of that.
The A4 aitchbone has a lovely sweetness to it, but with a more meaty flavor than the A5 short plate cut. Both were incredible but unique in their own way.
(#33) Tongue Tip, ¥220/slice
There are actually 4 different cuts of tongue available at Jiromaru; the base, the middle, the top, and the tip. We were lucky enough to try all 4, but the tip of the tongue stood out for its wonderful chewy texture and balanced flavor. A squeeze of lemon is a perfect accent.
The tongue should be grilled a bit longer than the finer cuts of meat.
A4 Bottom Round
(#10) A4 Bottom Round, ¥270/slice
The chef's recommendation on this particular day was the 'bottom round,' which was nicely aged as signified by the ring of discoloration around the cuts of meat.
This cut is very balanced, with a slightly sweet flavor and a soft yet chewy texture that is very satisfying to eat.
(#16) A4 'Maru-kawa' (red leg meat), ¥270/slice
'Maru-kawa' is a cut from the leg of the cow with a much lower amount of fat. If you want a bite of meat that's really 'beefy,' this is the one for you!
The flavor is deep and meaty, like a top-grade hearty steak. It's quite interesting to compare the cuts of marbled meat to the cuts of red meat like this one.
Assorted 'Horumon' (offal) ¥50 to ¥80/2 pieces
'Horumon' is what the Japanese call 'offal,' or the bits that are normally thrown away. What a shame, as they are actually quite delicious (to some people). The picture above shows (from left to right) beef heart, beef liver, and pork throat.
These pieces may not sound overly appetizing to some people, but the great thing is that you can try them out here for a cheap price! For between ¥30 and ¥100, you get two pieces of horumon. Japanese people love to eat horumon while drinking, so why not give it a try?
Gyu Pon Pon
'Gyu Pon Pon' or 'Beef Tendon and Ponzu,' ¥400
For just ¥400, you can order this side of slow-cooked beef tendon in citrus ponzu sauce. It has a wonderful beef flavor that is accented by the refreshing taste of citrus from the ponzu.
Try 'Hoppy' with your meal, a super-Japanese drink that is perfect for yakiniku
Hoppy Black, ¥450
Have you heard of 'Hoppy?' It's a Japanese drink that tastes kind of like beer! When you order Hoppy, you can choose either 'white' or 'black,' which differ slightly in flavor (but not much). The Hoppy comes in a bottle with a beer glass filled with a portion of shochu (a Japanese liquor). You then fill the glass up with Hoppy, mix it up, and enjoy!
Once you finish the glass, you can order a refill of shochu for just ¥200, and fill it again with your bottle of Hoppy. This way, you can usually get about 3 glasses from just one bottle of Hoppy, which is a big money saver if you want to drink more than one glass!
The taste is somewhere between a beer and a highball and is quite refreshing. It might be the perfect way to wash down a mouthful of yakiniku!
For high-quality beef and a uniquely Japanese experience, give Jiromaru a try!
Jiromaru in Okachimachi is a fabulous place to try some truly outstanding beef at a very reasonable price. On top of that, you can also experience 'tachigui,' standing and eating, which is an interesting piece of Japanese culture. The store is open from 11:30 am, so it could be a great lunch option or it is open late into the night (until 5am, Monday to Saturday), so could be a place to include in your night out.