One of the fun spot for a group of friends or family to go is yakiniku or Japanese BBQ restaurant. Even though we can have the experience in NYC at restaurants like Gyu-Kaku (you can read about it here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/gyu-kaku-japanese-bbq/), it is much better if you can enjoy it in Japan! My hubby and I went to one of the chain yakiniku restaurant called Heijoen with my family. They provide high-end, high quality meat, so the price might not be so affordable to some. The best place to dine at a restaurant like this would be lunch time, when they offer special lunch price menu.
They have a few parking spot right in front of the restaurant, next to a huge yakiniku meat advertisement. Also, they have an area to park your bicycle right by the entrance also. They have a much larger parking spot for vehicles in the back garage if the front parking spot is full.
They had a nice large waiting area at the entrance, I hear they get pretty busy on weekends and evenings. It is always nice to have a good amount of seating at the waiting area, especially for elders.
To the left of the waiting area was a private rooms, old-fashion style. The BBQ table was designed as hori-gotatsu, where there is a large hole under the table so that you can dangle your legs underneath. You need to take your shoes off since it is a tatami floor.
To the left of the waiting area is the main dining hall, with lots and lots of table seating. Most of them were table for four, but they had some really large ones that can seat eight people comfortably. Since we were a party of seven, we took one of those big table, and we had no issue with the space.
They have a personal grill(s), which is a smokeless roaster, installed at every table. Since our table was a large size, we had two grills on our table. Each table also had dipping sauce for the BBQ, one sweet and one spicy.
Most of the family restaurants in Japan have a really cool option called “Drink Bar” and or “Salad Bar” that you can add to your order. They are basically all-you-can-drink (non-alcoholic beverages) from the drink station, or all-you-can-eat salad from salad buffet. Here, they offer Drink & Ice Cream Bar set for $290 yen with order of main course. You get to drink all the beverages, and eat ice creams from the self-service drink and ice cream section for 60 minutes. They had Coca-Cola, Fanta, Calpis, Ginger Ale, Iced Tea, and all sorts of coffee items like Latte, Cappuccino, Cafe Mocha, etc., etc…
Since we were going to be sharing food, my mother ordered Beef Tongue Hamburg Steak Set (950 yen) and added Drink & Ice Cream Bar for additional 290 yen.
The set came with lots of side dishes, which was really awesome. They had tofu with chili sauce on top, and clear soup with wakame seaweed. They were both very good, tofu was refreshing and soup was delicious, the broth had deep, warm flavor to it, light yet packed with flavor.
It also had sautéed bean sprouts and side salad. The bean sprouts was seasoned well, and not over-cooked so that it still had nice crunchy texture. Side salad was a surprise. It had some kind of sweet corn dressing, which was amazingly delicious! The salad was very fresh and crunchy, I loved the corn flavor.
The hamburg steak was pretty big, and seasoned with salt and lemon for refreshing flavor. It was meaty, juicy, and yes, super tasty. We could tell they use good, high quality meat here. I am not a fan of beef tongue, but this one was delicious.
The rest of us ordered a set that comes with meat for BBQ. I went with Kalbi & Harami Set (1,330 yen) and added Drink & Ice Cream Bar for additional 290 yen. It comes with all the same side dishes as the hamburg steak set, lots of food!
Kalbi is also known as Galbi, and is a beef short ribs. Harami is a tender meat, also known as hanger meat. I received a few thick slices of each. This set also came with all the sides, and a small side of Kimchi as well, and it was spicy and tasty. I hear they make their own Kimchi, if I am not mistaken.
We started to grill our fancy meat on the grill. And this is where you really need to be careful. You should not put too much meat on the grill at once. Start slowly, so that you get to make sure the meats don’t get overcooked, and you get to eat them before they get cold. And the meats were pretty darn good. Thick, tender and juicy.
As I mentioned earlier, they have two dipping sauce on each table. They were in a cute, old-fashion container with a wooden scoop. The one marked “sweet” had golden color, and was tangy and tasty. I liked this one with my meats, it made them extra savory.
The one marked “spicy” had much darker, deep red color. It looked spicy and oh my, it really was spicy! It had lots of kick to it. Even though I do like spicy food, I liked the sweet sauce better than this one. In my opinion, the sweet sauce had better, deeper flavor that enhanced the flavor of the meat. The spicy sauce was a bit overpowering, fighting against the flavor of the meat instead of working with it.
We also got Dragon Kalbi (890 yen). It is named so because it is being cut in “dragon cut” and is from black angus beef.
Dragon cut make the meat long like a dragon. It was indicated on the menu that the meat should be cooked the way it is, and then cut with scissors at the time of serving. We did exactly as told, and it was pretty great. Really high quality and juicy, great flavor!
At the end, we ordered some desserts. They had three dessert offerings, and we ordered one of each, so that we can taste them all. First one was House-made Annin Tofu (380 yen). Annin tofu is basically an almond jelly dessert made of almond milk, agar, and sugar. It is the Asian version of the blancmange. They added a fruity sauce top, it looked like a sunny side up egg.
It was creamy, milky and smooth. Sweet but not overly sweet, melt in your moth. The portion is small, but after a big meal, we were quite full, so this was a good size. Especially when you are sharing three kinds of desserts.
Next one was Premium Pudding (420 yen). It is made with a special egg from Nagoya. It was thick but airy and fluffy. It had great vanilla flavor, I enjoyed their decadent pudding.
The last but not least, the most interesting dessert item on their dessert menu. It is Selective Soy Sauce Gelato (380 yen). I have never heard of such thing! It was sweet but salty, aroma of soy sauce comes softly after taking a bite. Refreshing dessert with a subtle flavor of soy sauce that somehow works with gelato really well.
We had a fun yakiniku lunch with my loving family, we enjoyed all the food, drinks and desserts. The restaurant was clean and spacious, and had great air circulation so that the smell of barbecue meat never sticked around. Nothing better than a barbecue party with my awesome family!
Yakiniku Heijoen Yagiri – 29-1 Kuriyama, Matsudo, Chiba Japan