This is something of a poorly kept secret and yet I am surprised not that many people know about it. Wagyu beef has always gone hand in hand with Japanese cuisine and along with it, often a high price tag. However, what if I told you that in the heart of Roppongi, Tokyo lies a little restaurant that specialises in A5 Wagyu beef and sells its lunch set at only ¥2,000? That's right. Right smack in the alleys of Roppongi lies Matsurokuya.
Its doors open at 11:30am sharp but it's not unusual to see a queue forming outside at 10am. Why? Because it only sells 30 sets of its delicious Wagyu beef lunch sets. Its lunch clientele is often a blend of local and tourist visitors, so you know it must be good. A staff would emerge from the restaurant every 15 minutes or so to check the queue and to take orders. Mind you, for lunch, they only serve the Hitsumabushi beef lunch set with the option of a sashimi side dish and nothing else. To confirm your place in queue, your entire party must be present and in queue. No sending a representative ahead.
Then at 11:30am, the first 20 people are allowed in and shown to their respective seats. Table sharing is a common practice here but is done in such a way that you're not directly facing anyone or bumping elbows while you eat. You can tell that mostly tourists visited the establishment for lunch because they have prepared instructions in English on how to enjoy the set. After getting seated, it is usually a 20 minutes wait before the food was served and it is well worth the wait.
Behold a glorious redness of succulent delectable beef. It is easy to ignore the side dishes in favour of the meat but do mix and match for an entirely different experience. At first bite, the beef is juicy, flavourful with the sauce in which it was cooked in. To say it melts in your mouth is a cliche but nothing else describes it better. At first glance, it looked like there was only one layer of beef but upon digging into the rice, enjoy another layer of well cooked beef, just as juicy and tasty as the top layer. But don't eat it all at one go.
Midway through, you will be served with a second helping of rice and ochazuke soup. Pile it on, pour in the soup, mix in the rest of the condiments and enjoy an ochazuke experience with your beef. To end the meal, dessert is a simple cocoa jelly to munch on while the bill is settled at the table.
Matsurokuya Is the closest thing one would get to a Wagyu beef experience without the hefty price tag. The staffs can speak simple English and they just came and go like silent ninjas throughout the entire meal. The whole restaurant's ambience spoke of the a classy dining experience which isn’t surprising as Matsurokuya was actually a fine dining restaurant in the evenings. You can also get Wagyu beef then but be prepared to pay double the amount. The lunch affair was a steal. Granted, there was an hour plus long queue but if you’re willing to dedicate half your morning to it, well, your taste buds are in for a treat.