Chef and Owner: Kunio Ichinose
This Japanese juggernaut has taken over the metropolis like a meat monster in a sci-fi film – Ikinari Steak (also known as J-Steak) is devouring-up neighborhoods with flair, a flame grill and many patrons – the restaurant chain is comperable to a giant alien consuming the costly white table cloth steakhouses of NYC.
This restaurant concept is a bit confusing and the lines are long, but once you get the hang of it, this affordable steak lovers spot is a place to get a reasonable moo meal without breaking your budget.
While many city dwellers and visitors emphatically protest on maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet, the meat-eaters are creating a stampede for this fire-breathing sizzler and throwing down a hefty competition against the ramen, salad and tofu craze.
Here is what I discovered:
Based in Japan, Ikinari Steak first opened in Tokyo in December of 2013. It now has over 280 locations throughout Japan and stepped to the West on U.S. soil making a Godzilla sized footprint in February 2017 – the concept took off and currently there are eight locations throughout Manhattan. More locations are opening this month and into the future. J-Steak is that popular.
Dining area at the new Upper West Side location
The Japanese style of ordering and service is a bit confusing at first: There are servers in the restaurant but they don’t really wait on you. It’s apparently designed with the formulaic Japanese style, but the chaotic, mishmash mess of the West and especially Manhattan, getting seated and placing an order is like doing origami for the first time.
It’s fun to figure out and watch Western diners try to follow the Eastern hosts and there are plenty of signs to instruct you on how to get your steak after you get into a small cubicle-like space and a menu is presented to you. Be prepared to read quite a bit on your first visit.
Ordering Station to select your cut
I’ll try to break it down. When you are seated, you get to choose from several cuts of meat: Ribeye, Sirloin, Filet and something called Wild Steak. (Don’t expect communal seating and lingering on in conversation, this place is more like, “Eat your steak and go!”). Guests are only aloud to order by the ounce and nothing under 7oz is permitted. Once you decide on your cut, you take the number from the velcro placard on your pod to the window where it states: Cut to Order Station.
The sirloin meal
Your number will be returned to you along with a sizzling platter continually cooking your steak. I made the mistake of ordering mine at medium-rare temperature – it was well-done by the time the steam and spitting ceased. I should have followed the sign where it states, “We recommend – RARE.”
It is true! I sat alone in my pod thinking about what emoji to use when I take a picture of it for social media.
You can order your beverage and additional dishes such as radish salad, mashed potato and rice from the “server” (outside of what comes with the steak: corn or free substitutes green beans, onion, potato or broccoli.) Additional sides with your steak are $1.
My beautiful and saucy server, Marie
Note: The condiments, utensils and seasonings are all meticulously labeled at each seating station (I call them pods). Ikinari Steak on Broadway’s Upper West Side is not a space for communal dining. I didn’t feel rushed but it’s definitely not a place to hang out with your friends/family for a long period of time and reminisce over a cup of tea and mochi ice cream.
They do have take-out.
Check out their hibachi and website here:
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Tags: Ikinari, Steak, J Steak, Dining, NYC Restaurants