Enter through the butcher shop – what a brilliant concept for a steakhouse. Nakasei is, above all, a purveyor of the finest quality aged Tajima beef: they welcome a new cow every couple of weeks, butcher the poor thing and hang its meat to dry anywhere from six weeks to six months, depending on the part. At the butcher’s quarters – pristine, like a surgeon’s operating room – you can buy around 20 cuts of beef to take home. The selection rotates daily and depends on whichever piece of aged flesh is most appetising right then.
Only checking out the shop, you’d never guess that a restaurant sits behind the stainless steel door in the back. Diners choose their favourite cuts at the shop before being guided into the inner sanctum: a spartan concrete space that looks very much like a cold storage room. Wooden tables and steel chairs provide the bare minimum décor required, butcher’s hooks and naked light globes hang from the ceiling. It’s quite clear that this is a den for appreciating meat, and no frills are required.
Your cut of choice is first presented at your table, and the waiter will ask how you’d like it cooked. Just remember – this isn’t the kind of place where you ask for a well done steak. Next, pick sides to accompany your pound of flesh; fries, mashed potato and/or spinach, plus condiments like soy sauce, wasabi, mustard and yuzu. Once the grilling is done, you’re in for the carnivorous experience of a lifetime.
Do expect to pay a premium for this level of quality; there’s a 30 percent surcharge on meat eaten at the restaurant as opposed to just buying some to cook at home. For optimal value, go for the eight-course menu (¥10,000 per person, feeds two) that includes two 60g cuts.