The best offal barbecue in Tokyo

Fresh meat’s on the menu at these top eateries
Photo by Keisuke Tanigawa Grilling the good stuff at Kiba's Gekiuma Horumon Damashii
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By Kouichi Kuroki

Attention, carnivores! Collaborating with a 'meat master' – an intrepid student of the fine art of grilled meat – we previously gave you the definitive list of Tokyo's tastiest yakiniku restaurants. Now, we're back with a look at the fascinating world of offal barbecue, known as horumon in Japanese. If you're a little unsure of what the heck rumen, sweetbreads and omasum are, this gourmet anatomy lesson will provide all the answers – get ready for a delicious tour of ten Tokyo restaurants specialising in offal, ranging from casual local pubs to fashionable date spots.

The top 10 organ outlets

Restaurants, Yakiniku

Chofu Meat Center

icon-location-pin Chofu
Liver with the texture of foie gras
You'll have to walk a good 15 minutes from Chofu Station to reach it, but this classic joint is well worth it. Their 'foie liver' is a masterful cold liver dish, prepared using a secret method, seasoned with sesame oil and salt, and topped with an ample helping of spring onions. The name comes from the supremely creamy texture, which actually resembles real foie gras. As for recommendations off the meat menu, the chef's choice platter (for two, ¥1,200) is a combo of beef short ribs and mixed offal, while the white leaf tripe, cleaned of all the black skin, is a true joy for the palate. Finally, the 'tonkoro hormon' is best grilled carefully until slightly brown, making for an addictive combination of a crispy outside and a soft, fluffy inside.
Restaurants, Yakiniku

Gekiuma Horumon Damashii

icon-location-pin Koto
Ticking all the boxes
This popular establishment operates two locations close to Kiba Station and both spots are practically always packed. The menu features more than 30 different choices of offal, ranging from standard offerings like beef intestine and rumen to rarities such as sweetbreads, windpipe and tripe. Grilling the plump, thickly sliced offal produces low-fat, tender product with a fresh and crisp flavour, followed up by subtle notes of sweet and savoury. Offal beginners will be happy to hear that they also serve standard-issue meat like short ribs and steak, as well as Korean sides including cold noodles and gukbap rice soup. Reservations are essential.
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Restaurants, Yakiniku

Yamadaya

icon-location-pin Arakawa
The neck fat is the attraction
The long-standing Yamadaya, hidden away in the traditionally Korean residential area of Mikawashima, is known for the rustic simplicity of their meats – start with the salted beef intestine nikomi for an easy introduction to the Yamadaya taste, and then go for classics like beef liver. The latter is best grilled carefully over low heat, drawing out the flavours without letting the meat go dry. Their sagari-yaki (pork skirt steak) is a true wonder to behold: when carefully prepared, it has none of the skirt steak's characteristic toughness in it, and lets off a rich, savoury flavour that gradually builds in your mouth when chewing. Finally, the menabura-yaki (fat from the upper neck of a cow) is a delight that's hard to find anywhere else. Remember to cook it thoroughly, which allows for a soft texture and a strong umami taste.
Restaurants, Yakiniku

Sumibi Yakiniku Yamagen

icon-location-pin Ogikubo
Serious about the salt
Found quite close to Ogikubo Station, Yamagen specialises in extra-fresh offal and high-quality meat. The menu changes daily based on the stock situation – make sure to ask if they have the daily special (¥1,280). What's peculiar here is the dedication to salt: their offal can be ordered with either miso or salt, but the latter is by far the better choice. In order to draw out the maximum amount of flavour from the meat, these folks use sea salt imported all the way from Christmas Island. The popular salted large intestine (¥590) should be grilled until the skin gets a little crispy, after which the fat is cooked just enough for a slight brown colour. Squeeze some lemon on top and you'll get a refreshing taste that never gets old. Yamagen also boasts an extensive wine list, so drinkers will feel right at home as well.
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Restaurants, Yakiniku

Horumon Fune Hooru-chan

icon-location-pin Shin-Okubo
For only the finest ingredients
Found on the outskirts of Koreatown in Shin-Okubo, this reservation-only eatery serves a mere four groups of diners per day, and you'll always get exactly what the chef wants to offer – no more, no less. This system allows the restaurant to source only necessary ingredients, and those ingredients are certainly no ordinary slabs of meat: expect rarities like beef from Shodo Island, where the cattle are fed olives as part of their diet. No compromises here, in other words. Although the menu changes every time, you'll be sure to get some truly exceptional appetisers – we were lucky enough to be served seared skirt steak flavoured with sesame oil. All meat is cooked by the staff and then served to customers, ensuring optimal timing. Only one serving is provided for each cut, but as the variety is huge and cuts are thick, you won't be leaving hungry. ¥7,500 may feel like a steep price, but the quality more than justifies it.
Restaurants, Yakiniku

Kuratsuki

icon-location-pin Futako-Tamagawa
Trendy Futako-Tamagawa spot with a nice atmosphere
Found in an izakaya-filled area behind Futako-Tamagawa's Takashimaya department store, Kuratsuki is a relaxed, stylish restaurant that offers the perfect date atmosphere. Start with their onion slice yamamori (¥100) to cleanse your taste buds before turning to the meat, especially the grilled liver steak, which can be freely customised according to your tastes. Grill it over the charcoal first, then garnish with sesame oil, salt and green onion. The nine-type beef offal sampler (for two) lets you try a wide variety of tastes and textures for a reasonable price, while the three-type meat sampler will satisfy those who need something a little more voluminous. Rice and noodle sides are also available, as is their famous offal curry.
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Restaurants

Horumon King

icon-location-pin Ebisu
Wash down the offal burger with a drink
If you need somewhere to stop for a drink and some meaty snacks, Ebisu's Horumon King fits the bill. The varied menu includes favourites like the mino-negi bakayukke, which is boiled rumen seasoned with olive oil, garlic salt and a sprinkle of lemon juice – a perfect way to kick off your evening. For a full-flavoured complement to beer, try the Kanto-style beef tendon stew, whereas small eaters might prefer the harami tendon or the beef aorta. As the name suggests, the 'horumon burger' is a patty consisting of chopped offal and cartilage. It arrives almost cooked, so simply finish it off with your own grill and dig in for an overwhelmingly juicy experience. Finally, we recommend rounding off your meal with the tail soup, preferably poured over some rice.
Restaurants, Yakiniku

Horumon Tera

icon-location-pin Asakusabashi
For fine samplers
Kuramae's Horumon Tera looks like an izakaya from the outside, but boasts a clean and stylish wooden interior. They bring in fresh meat every morning, making this a favourite spot for many serious carnivores. If you're unsure of what to try, start off with the six-type offal sampler (¥495), which features one serving of each of that day's recommended cuts. All the cuts are carefully prepared, allowing you to experience a wide variety of flavours and textures. If you find one you like, just go ahead and order more of that variety. For another sure choice, try the spicy large intestine (karashimacho, ¥685), served with a piquant miso sauce.
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Restaurants, Yakiniku

Buchi

icon-location-pin Shibuya
Gourmand heaven masquerading as a local pub
An offshoot of the Hiroshima restaurant with the same name, Buchi is a casual pub that also happens to offer great yakiniku. These guys source whole cows from farmers, which obviously increases the amount of different cuts available. Their samplers are great for trying a wide variety of cuts – order the offal sashimi sampler (¥890) for extra-fresh domestic beef seasoned with a crisp sauce and mixed with egg, or choose the deluxe offal sampler (¥1,050) for 180 grams of varied goodness. The latter is especially appropriate if you're dining with a large group.
Restaurants, Yakiniku

Ichifuji

icon-location-pin Sendagi
An eight-seater for offal-hungry adults
Sendagi's Ichifuji is a tiny joint with room for only eight people around the counter, but this refined eatery was never meant to be the kind of place that competes with size and volume. Standard operating procedure is to order the chef's omakase set (¥6,000-¥8,000) and then pick additional dishes off the menu. The beef stomach sampler is a particularly tasty combo, featuring rumen, honeycomb tripe, yan (the connective tissue between a cow's second and third stomachs, apparently), omasum and abomasum (contents may change by the day), with each piece exquisitely seasoned and prepared. Although offal isn't really thought of as a seasonally changing form of food, the cuisine at Ichifuji is prepared with seasonal ingredients. To give a couple of examples, the chives are sautéed separately for the liver and chive skewers, making for a flavour that's seriously difficult to put into words, while the grilled tail is simply a solid mass of goodness – true masterpieces of offal, no doubt.
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