A few weeks ago, Tokyo was hit with its worst snowstorm in about 20 years. Depending on how you look at it, it was either a bad time to go out for dinner or a perfect time, given that I went to a cozy izakaya called Warayakiya (わらやき屋) located on a side street just off of Roppongi Crossing. But given the high marks it has gotten from several of my friends and professional reviewers on the internet, I figured that it would be worth the adventure through the wind and snow.
Warayakiya is known for a special method of grilling meat and seafood that originated in Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. Instead of charcoal, chefs use straw which burns at a very high temperature — 900 degrees C (about 1650 degrees F) — and sears food quickly. You can request a seat around the grill, where you will get a close up view of some spectacular pyrotechnics.
Warayakiya is best known for its katsuo tataki (seared bonito) which is served with garlic, scallions, sea salt, and wasabi on the side. The katsuo perfectly is grilled on the outside but retains its raw, high-grade sashimi goodness on the inside. I’ve had seared tuna before, but Warayakiya’s is by far the most delicious (and beautiful) I’ve had so far.
In addition, I had the grilled beef tongue which was good but pales in comparison to the amazing katsuo tataki. I understand the grilled chicken is another regional specialty that is quite popular. I also had a mixed salad that came with ginger, onion, and carrot flavored dressing, and deep-fried julienned sweet potato fries which were quite sweet and much harder that I would have liked.
To wash it all down, Warayakiya features a sizable selection of sake. I forgot to write down which one I ordered, but it was really good and went well with the katsuo tataki.
Warayakiya has nice, relaxed, cozy vibe and is great for dates or just hanging out with friends. The katsuo tataki is definitely worth the trip. I can also attest that it is a great place to warm up after walking around in the snow.Warayakiya Locations: Several locations in Tokyo. The one in Roppongi is at 6-8-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo. I’ve also seen the one in Akasaka, located at 3-12-3 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo. There also appear to be branches in Giza, Shinbashi, and Hamamatsucho. Business Hours: The Roppongi branch is open Monday-Saturday 5:00 pm-5:00 am; 5:00-11:00 pm Sunday and holidays. The Akasaka branch is open Monday-Friday 5:00pm-3:00am and Saturday-Sunday from 5:00pm-11:00pm. The Japanese seem to like being out really late on school nights, don’t they? Getting There: Take the Tokyo Metro (Hibiya line) or the Toei Oedo line to Roppongi station. The Akasaka branch can be reached by taking the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line to Akasaka station; the Tameike-sanno station (Ginza and Nanboku lines) and Akasaka-mitsuke station (Ginza and Maranouchi lines) are a little further away but are still within walking distance.