After a whole day spent looking through massive amounts of anime merchandise and shopping for souvenirs to take back home, the thought of laying down in my hotel seemed like a dream. J and I, along with his friend, headed back to our hotel to rest. Although our hotel room was tiny, it was big enough for everyone to sit down and rest their feet... thank goodness.
Originally, I wanted to have yakitori for dinner but J wanted yakiniku so we decided on Jojoen (I guess all boys prefer meat over chicken). Jojoen is an upscale yakiniku restaurant with several locations throughout Tokyo, one of them being right in Shinjuku near our hotel. Although we got to rest our feet, I didn't want to put on my tight boots with my swollen feet. So, I changed outfits in order to wear my comfortable boots. What a world of a difference...
The night air was crisp, but it wasn't cold, it was actually perfect for a walk around the city. The walk to Jojoen was short, but long enough to get my stomach growling. J and I heard from our friend back home that Jojoen was fantastic, but I wasn't really excited for it, probably because it wasn't a part of my itinerary. For me, meat is meat. The best yakiniku I had in the States was good, but it wasn't life changing (but, hey, I still haven't had Totoraku). Even though I wasn't expecting much, I should have known better. Even fast food joints in Tokyo are incredible compared to their brothers and sisters in the U.S.
Being the alcoholic that I am, of course, I had to order a drink with dinner. Okay, I'm not an alcoholic, but I noticed that I almost cannot ever eat dinner without a glass of somethin' somethin' on the side. Since the boys didn't want to drink, I was forced to order beer instead of sake or shochu. The cold beer was so refreshing and definitely took the edge off.
I want to say how much I loved the yuzu sauce on the left. J and I both really loved this sauce while M liked the sweeter one on the right.
The cucumber kimchi is a great example of the restraint shown in Japanese cuisine. This side dish was much milder in heat when compared to its original Korean, but still had a lot of wonderful flavor and went so well with the meats.
tan shioyaki (seasoned tongue)
Whenever I eat yakiniku or Korean BBQ, I always order beef tongue. It is one of my absolute favorite types of meat to eat. When cooked perfectly, the tender texture and the distinct flavor just sing in your mouth.
akami jo rousu usugiri yaki (sliced prime rib loin)
We moved onto what I think was the prime rib loin. I'm not sure so please don't quote me on that. The lean beef was tasty and nice change from the tongue.
jo karubi yaki (prime-marbled galbi)
Next was the prime marbled karubi yaki which was an amazing piece of meat. The sweetness of the sauce was subtle and the meat was so tender. The meat would still be juicy without the marinade. With one bite, we were all in yakiniku heaven. Absolutely amazing. I wish we saved this for last... Hell, if I'm going to wish anything, I wish I got five plates of this for myself.
karubi yaki (galbi)
After the amazing prime karubi yaki, we decided to stick with a cheaper cut of karubi. While it was cheaper, the flavor and quality of the meat were still great.
pork (I don't know the Japanese name)
Maybe because I'm Korean and Koreans always eat pork whenever we BBQ, but I couldn't pass up a plate of pork. A grilled slice of pork always reminds me of home. Only things that were missing was a lettuce leaf and some gochujang. The pork, just like the beef, was exceptional.
green tea & vanilla ice cream
We only had a few plates of meat, but we were pretty full by this point. None of us were big eaters so it was the perfect amount of food for the perfect level of fullness. The meal came with your choice of ice cream. J and I, of course, chose green tea while M got the vanilla which came with a chocolate sauce. The ice cream came in the perfect portion size for me - nice little dessert to end a great meal.
This meal really showed me how important the quality of ingredients is to a great dining experience and how Japanese cuisine showcases these qualities. Even though we didn't over indulge in the plethora of awesome meats, I felt my short time in yakiniku heaven has left a lasting impression. After my return to the states, I have been quietly but actively searching for this same yakiniku experience. Totoraku, I'm looking at you... While I'm sure there are probably better yakinku places in Tokyo, I can safely say Jojoen is the best I've ever had.
Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Shinjuku