‘Wagyuful’ Tokyo adventure

Danee Samonte - The Philippine Star
âWagyufulâ Tokyo adventure

That’s me and my wife Mady

MANILA, Philippines - Had my cardiologist Doctora Pastores found out how much wagyu beef I consumed on my recent Tokyo trip, she would have surely thrown a fit and lectured me endlessly on the dangers of too much fat in my diet.

One of the reasons I decided to become an “alalay” (minion) to my wife’s trip to Tokyo to attend a business convention was because I would have the opportunity to taste the much talked and raved Miyazaki beef. In the world of Wagyu beef, Miyazaki they claim holds the gold standard. Miyazaki beef, according to gourmets, is steps higher than wagyu varieties Kobe, Matsuzaka and Ohmi beef.

As soon as my wife was through with her business meetings, I grabbed her hand and hailed a taxi to take us to the Ginza area and search for the restaurant My Yakiniku. I’ve dined at the restaurant before but couldn’t remember the exact location and it took our taxi driver some time to find it.

Being Golden Week in Japan, all restaurants were fully booked; therefore, I was worried that even if we found it, there was a big chance we might not be accommodated. Luckily, the manager at My Yakiniku took pity on me and squeezed us after I promised I would only stay for an hour.

I ordered one plate of Miyazaki and another plate of Kobe beef. The order arrived in 10 minutes and we started grilling alternate slices of Kobe and finely marbled Miyazaki beef. Honestly, I could not tell the difference between the two. There was an explosion of Umami every time I took a bite. Analyzing closer, I think Miyazaki tasted a bit more buttery because of the fat to meat ratio.

After swiftly consuming the first two plates, we ordered two more. I discovered that wrapping it with lettuce instead of pairing it with rice enhanced the flavor of the beef. My wife approved of it because she was concerned about my carbohydrate consumption being a borderline diabetic. I couldn’t get enough of it even if my wallet was already protesting so I ordered two more servings, but the manager said the guys who reserved the seats we hijacked have arrived and we needed to leave.

As I stood up from the table with my tummy clamoring for an encore, we reluctantly exited the restaurant and were confronted by a blast cold chill that permeated our thick clothing. While it was sweltering hot in Manila with 40 degree plus temperatures, it was 15 degrees that night in Tokyo but I didn’t really care. For a meal as yummy as the one we just consumed, I’m willing to brave even an arctic chill.

At the end of my wife’s two-day convention, we left the Tokyo bay area (where Disneyland and Tokyo Big Sight are located) and transferred to the Shinjuku area that featured hundreds of Yakiniku restaurants and lots of shopping.

Cassettes are back

As my wife and assistant Kat rummaged through Uniqlo, H&M, Zara and other shops, I spent the whole afternoon at the 7 story Tower Records building in Shibuya. I found it amazing that despite record stores shutting down in the US and other parts of the world including the Philippines, CDs, LPs and even cassettes proliferate and healthily thrive in Japan. This is absolute heaven for collectors like me and Nonoy Tan, a.k.a. Arturo Lui Pio. I bought so many CDs my credit card maxed out.

That night, we had dinner at another Yakiniku restaurant with our host Leslie and Yoshimi Wakabayashi, Mady’s assistant Kathryn San Pedro and my niece Melanie Samonte of Diamond Hotel together with unica hija Chelsea. It was another “wagyuful” experience downing over a dozen orders of various wagyu varieties.

On our last day in Tokyo, we tried a restaurant called Oyster Bar on the top floor of Odakyu department store that served nothing but oysters from fresh to cooked. We ordered fried oysters, oyster-laden chowder and pasta with oysters. Every type of Japanese oyster we ordered was plump, juicy and huge. I will surely return to this restaurant on my next trip and highly recommend it to oyster lovers.

That evening, we watched Paul McCartney’s final concert at the Tokyo Dome that lasted for over three hours and ended late at night but that didn’t dampen my appetite for more Wagyu and caught a Yakiniku restaurant that was about to close in Shinjuku and ordered our last supper in Tokyo. Burp.


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with