Japan, having spent a good few centuries not eating a lot of meat, doesn’t always get it quite right. I’ve had steak so tough I’ve had to discreetly spit it into napkins (to be fair, this is also a very common crime in the UK). I’ve also had meat treated like fish. Sometimes this can really good – as it turns out, semi-raw chicken with wasabi is great. But sometimes, this is absolute sacrilege to the the poor animal that died. Thinly-sliced beef, with no seasoning, swished through water to then be dipped only in soy sauce can be dull beyond belief.
When Japan does get meat right, it is often done with the fervour and zeal associated with mad scientists in laboratory – Kobe beef is a prime example of just how much goes into producing the perfect cow. This, of course, comes with the price tag that isn’t feasible for every day dining.
So I’ve decided to run a Cheap Meat Eats series. Do not be mistaken. I love CHEAP prices but I don’t love CHEAP quality. If you’re happy with beef bowls from Yoshinoya or Sukiya, then that’s great. But – whilst unlikely to feature Kobe beef – this series will be an introduction into places that give you really tasty, good quality stuff for your money!
First up, Gyukatsu Motomura – that’s a rare beef steak deep-fried. I’ve got your attention, haven’t I?
There are a few Gyukatsu Motomura around Tokyo, including two in Shibuya. Depending on the time when you go, you may have to queue a while. This little Shibuya shop has only 9 counter seats and a lot of customers wanting a 130g katsu set for 1400 yen.
We queued for maybe an hour and a half? I don’t really remember except for the fact that by the time I got in there, I wanted to chew my own arm off.
They take the orders in the queue. We had ordered the DOUBLE set with tororo (grated yam) – 260g of meat for 2200 yen. So, although I terrified staff by shouting WHOOP WHOOP on finally entering the restaurant, they dutifully and promptly placed something beautiful in front of me. Or maybe they just wanted me gone as quickly as possible.
Come on, it is beautiful, isn’t it? TWO 130g beef cutlets, cabbage, potato salad, pickles, barley rice, grated yam, miso soup, with wasabi and sauce, and a horseradish sauce. There’s also rock salt.
The chefs will check that you know how to eat it but there’s also a helpful guide on the counter. I suggest trying all combinations and working out your favourite.
You can get another bowl of rice for free. If you’re not a fan of grated yam, the set is 100 yen cheaper. I discovered I am not a fan of grated yam. There is not particular taste but it has the texture and appearance of a bowl of seminal fluid. (Which is not something I ever thought I’d get to write in a food review, but, hey! My blog my rules.)
Dubious white substances aside, take it slowly. You have incredibly tender beef that is easily devoured – make the pleasure last. And make sure you smile broadly at all the guys in the queue on your way out.
My only gripe about Gyukatsu Motomura – aside from the chronic lack of seats- is that the beef is perhaps a little too rare. Just cooking it a little bit more would bring out more of the beed flavour. I found the sauces were really necessary as a result.
And my wonderful co-diner, said that she preferred Ikinari Steak as a result. Which, if you want excellent quality, delicious – and I mean, truly delicious, steak – you can’t go wrong.
Still, the beef katsu place has a fond place in my carnivorous heart. I would go again… although maybe not if faced with a 1.5 hour queue!
Gyukatsu Motomura – 4/5
Where: 東京都渋谷区渋谷3-18-10 大野ビル2号館 B1F
When: Mon – Sat 11:00 – 23:00; Sun 11:00 – 21:00)