Onwa Tsukuba newly opened its doors in May 2017 as the second branch to the original, acclaimed steakhouse over in Tochigi's Utsunomiya. Looking to bring the same high-end, gourmet yakiniku experience to central Ibaraki, Onwa hopes to appease Ibaraki residents with its famed, high-grade Wagyu beef.
Arriving at Onwa, visitors will immediately be drawn into the wonderland that awaits beyond the welcome Noren curtain – the giant kanji for 'meat' —Niku / 肉—beckoning you inside.
Onwa blends a traditional Japanese 'Wa' exterior design (complete with bamboo grove) with a spacious, modern interior thanks to local Ibaraki design architectural firm, Konoka Architects.
Stepping inside reveals a gorgeous dark wood interior, with high-backed leather couches defining the main seating area.
Onwa's premium Kuroge Wagyu beef promises that melt-in-the-mouth experience often associated with the fatty marbling found in higher grades of Wagyu.
Cuts start from as little as 800 yen for Wagyu loin, rising to 1,800 yen for boneless short rib and other superior varieties. The wider menu includes beef tongue (among other offal delicacies) and Korean-inspired offerings, like kimchi and bibimbap.
Onwa's beef is derived from virgin female cattle – widely considered to produce that richer, fattier texture that is commonly associated with marbled Wagyu beef. Its low melting point helps ensures that incredible melt-in-the-mouth feeling.
Typically these cows' smaller frame (compared to male cattle) and relative difficulty in producing quality marbling makes them harder to commercialise, leading to higher prices (especially at the A-4 and A-5 level (highest quality Wagyu).
For a yakiniku steakhouse, Onwa can be considered a cut above other establishments – serving high quality Wagyu beef at otherwise reasonable prices, allowing guests to sit back, grill and enjoy the Japanese barbecue experience.