Sawayaka

When we were visiting Shizuoka, we discovered there is more to Shizuoka than their green tea and eel. They also have their own special cantaloupe, persimmons, and guess what else? Hamburg steaks! In Japan, people eat not only hamburgers, but also hamburg steaks, without lettuce, tomato and buns. I heard that there is one restaurant in particular that offers excellent hamburg steak all around Shizuoka.

The recommendation came from my gourmet foodie sister, so there was no doubt that their food was going to be great. They have 30 locations only in Shizuoka! Even though there are so many locations, each of them gets pretty packed with locals. They have been in a business for 40 years, and along the way, they picked up quite a fan base, and yes, loyal customers. When we visited one, they had about 45 minutes of wait time. We expected the wait to be long, so it was no issue. We killed time in a nearby store selling loads of cute stuffs, and went back after about 30 minutes.

The inside was large, with lots of booth and table seating. It had high ceiling, making the restaurant look and feel even bigger. It sort of looked like a huge wooden cabin. So, even though it is a big restaurant, it still created warm, cozy, homey atmosphere.

I liked how each booth seats had privacy walls, making it less loud and more intimate. It also gives that privacy to small sections of the restaurants. And I thought the little greens here and there added nice touch of nature into this huge log cabin.

They had kind of funny decorations. I saw some photos of their hamburg steak, proudly hanged on the walls. Very appetizing… I liked their lamps, adorable, kind of old-fashioned, and quaint. But the best decoration I found was the plastic hamburg steaks and veggies in large glass containers. How funny and cool at the same time!

Their most popular item is their Genkotsu Hamburg Steak, or “fist” hamburg steak. Or, you can get the same thing but just a bit smaller, called Onigiri (“rice ball) Hamburg Steak. The name only reflect its size, as big as a strong man’s fist, or smaller size similar to rice ball. We went with the Onigiri Hamburg Steak (950 yen). They do have option to add side of rice, bread, salad, or soup with a drink, but we didn’t get any extra.

Before they brought out our hamburg steaks, they brought paper “shield” to protect us from all the sizzles. You have to hold it up while the staff works on your hamburg steak right in front of you. The staff will cut the steak in half, long-way, and then put the cut-side down on the sizzling plate.

 

Since the hamburg steak is formed in kind of a round ball, the middle of the steak is still a bit raw. By cutting the steak in half and pressing the cut-side onto the sizzling plate, the inside will cook to your liking. The staff really presses the steak hard onto the plate, creating extra sizzle and aroma.

One final touch is to re-shape the ham burg steak after being flattened on the plate. It was put back to more of a fluffed half round shape.

The hamburg steak comes with a choice of sauce: Onion Sauce or Demi-Glaze Sauce. Their onion sauce is most popular, so we went with that. The onion sauce is soy sauce based, infused with lots of onions. The staff poured the sauce on top of the hamburg steaks, making them cook for a little while longer with the sauce.

It is fun to watch the hamburg steak sizzle right in front of you. And then within a minute or so, all the sizzle was gone and the hamburg steak is ready to be eaten! At this point, without so much smoke from the sizzle, I finally realized that the sizzling plate is in a shape of a cow! Holy cow!

 

And I think the cow plate approves of our hamburg steak… It was really juicy, with still a little pink left in the middle, it was not over-cooked in any way. The onion sauce was cuddling the steak so nicely, and yes, it was delicious! They make their hamburg steak fresh every day, and charcoal grill to have the appetizing aroma to it. They finish up the cooking in front of the customer, and by leaving a middle a bit pink, the hamburg steak can hold onto its juicy-ness. I say they perfected their hamburg steak just right!

After an amazing hamburg steak, we decided to have a little dessert drink. They had Crown Melon Juice (550 yen) which was offered during the Summer season only. Shizuoka has their special melon that they grow locally, so we decided to try it. It was really nice and smooth! Sweet, fruity, and icy cold. It had great flavor of melon, not some “flavor-added” stuff, but made with real melon! A perfect ending to the dinner.

Their “onigiri” size looked really small, but yet, it was super satisfying. Don’t let the look fool you. After one bite, I understood the reason why they were so popular, and the demand for more branches everywhere within Shizuoka. As you can only taste their hamburg steak in one of their branches in Shizuoka, I am really happy I got to try them! If you are ever in Shizuoka, head over for their sizzling hamburg steak!

 

Sawayaka – 3-15 Yasakicho, Kakegawa, Shizuoka Japan

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