There are few better dining experiences than a true Japanese steakhouse. With a variety of entrees, appetizers, and drinks, plus an atmosphere as rich as the menu, an authentic Japanese steakhouse will leave you with a full belly, but a hunger for more.
As with any good steakhouse, pacing and sampling are key. You don’t want to overload yourself with snacks and drinks. However, you will definitely want to try a few of each. Most good restaurants will offer a wide selection of entrees, including various sushi rolls, miso soup, and crisp house salads. Pick one or two that you’ve never had before. Even if they aren’t your favorite, the portions are usually quite small so no food is wasted. Be sure to get an authentic Japanese drink too. Most restaurants serve a good selection of house specialties, as well as sake, Japanese beer, plum wine, and non-alcoholic tea.
When it comes to your main dish, get a different type of meat than you had for your appetizer. If you didn’t have an appetizer, get a plate for your entree that you can try and share with the rest of your table. Most Japanese steakhouses offer chicken, shrimp, lobster, and sirloin main courses, as well as sushi samples and grilled vegetable options for the vegetarians in your group. Dishes and combinations like “Land and Sea” or Kobe/Wagyu dishes are a great way to get all the meats in one meal. If you are going to dine in a group, another strategy is to specialize and share. That way everyone at your table can try a little of everything.
If you still have room for dessert, complete the dining experience with Mochi ice cream or Daifuku (rice cake with a deliciously sweet filling). If not, take your time to grab the check. Authentic Japanese restaurants often have some of the most distinct and immersive atmospheres around. At times, the atmosphere is calm: the traditional decor, dripping water, and dim lighting create a relaxing and serene dining experience. Other times, the Japanese steakhouse becomes a stage for the show: fires burn, knives cut, and food is often prepared right in front of you. Be prepared, some places can literally throw food in your direction.
In general, when dining at a Japanese steakhouse, it’s important to go in with an empty stomach and an open mind. It also helps if you like meat. Expansive menus, traditional options, large portions, and immersive settings will have something for everyone. Go ahead, grab an extra napkin or two, and leave a nice tip on your way out.