One of my favorite things to eat in Japan is tonkatsu, a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet. When I heard about Gyūkatsu Motomura, famous for their gyūkatsu, a breaded beef cutlet, I knew I had to try it.
Gyūkatsu Motomura, with branches located around Tokyo, has become popular with both locals and tourists. You will always find a line out front of their shops. This is especially true at their more popular locations in Shinjuku and Shibuya.
Motomura specializes in gyūkatsu, a breaded beef cutlet which is quickly deep-fried, leaving it rare on the inside and rich on the outside.
On my visit, I stopped by their Gyūkatsu Motomura Shinjuku Minamiguchi location, located near the east exit of Shinjuku Station.
Waiting in Line
When I arrived at 11:30 AM on my visit, there was already a line out of the door and on the sidewalk.
After passing through the small front door, the line continued down the stairs. The stairway was narrow with enough room for those exiting to pass by.
Inside the door was a section for luggage. It was interesting how even people who were leaving Tokyo felt it was important to first stop at Gyūkatsu Motomura.
I could smell all the wonderful aromas of fried pork coming up the stairs from the kitchen down below. This made the wait feel even longer.
After waiting for 30 minutes in the claustrophobic stairwell, I finally made it near the bottom of the stairs.
There was a friendly lady standing near the bottom of the stairs. She was a worker who handed me a menu and took my order. She spoke limited English but I had no problem pointing at the menu.
After ordering, I paid another worker, a man dressed in all white. He was standing just inside the door leading into the dining room. One thing to note, it was cash only.
Gyūkatsu Motomura Shinjuku Minamiguchi Menu
In Japan, it’s common to find restaurants that specialize in only one food item. The Gyūkatsu Motomura menu was no different. They served gyūkatsu beef cutlet and nothing else. There should be nothing else that you would want to order.
The only other options you need to make is if you want the 130g (4.5oz), 200g (7oz), or 230g (8.1oz) serving of beef. You could also make it a set (cabbage, miso soup, rice, pickled greens) with or without yams.
Interior of Gyūkatsu Motomura
After finally passing through the door and into the smokey dining room, I realized why there was such a long wait. Just like the narrow stairs leading down to the restaurant, the dining room of Gyūkatsu Motomura was small. The warm wood throughout and bright lights made the simple space feel bigger than it actually was.
Directly across from the door was a small counter with cramped stools with just enough room for a handful of people. To the right, a tiny nook with a few small tables. If your party is more than four or so people, I might recommend finding somewhere else to eat. This was not the best restaurant to handle larger groups.
Behind this counter was a small open kitchen. From the bar, I had a great view of the chefs and workers preparing each dish, slicing beef, and scooping bowls of rice.
The restaurant was mostly quiet except for the staff talking softly and jazz music playing lightly in the background.
Beef Cutlet (200g) Barley Rice Set
I decided to go with the 200g Beef Culet Barley Rice Set (1,700 yen or $15.70) . It was the perfect size for one person. Also, it was colorful and beautifully presented. I was hoping it would taste as great as it looked.
The set, served on a black tray, included 200g (7 oz) of rare sliced beef cutlet. On the side was rice, cabbage, miso soup, potato salad, pickled greens, and wasabi. There were also two types of dipping sauce.
What surprised me was how thin the breading on the meat was. It was nothing like the thick and crunchy breading of pork tonkatsu. But, this wasn’t a bad thing.
The gyūkatsu breading was almost nonexistent but crispy enough to complement the tender, rare meat underneath.
What I loved was how the meat was the star of the dish and not the breading. I could taste all the flavors of the rich meat, even with the breading. Even more impressive was how the chefs managed to lightly fry the outside of the beef while keeping it rare on the inside.
Flat Stone Grill
What made Gyūkatsu Motomura such a unique experience were the individual flat stone grills at each table. I was able to cook each slice of the meat exactly how I wanted, a perfect ruby red medium rare.
Some people love rare meat while others prefer steak to be well done. With the hot grill, you have all the power to prepare your meat exactly how you want.
After a few seconds on each side, the breading on the outside became crispy and hot while the inside was a perfect, medium rare. The perfect contrast of tender and crunchy. I wouldn’t recommend cooking the meat for too long as it started sticking to the grill the longer it was cooking.
I couldn’t believe how delicious and succulent the meat was. Each and every slice just melted away in my mouth like butter. With the perfect amount of fat and marbling, the beef was intensely rich and flavorful. The meat was perfect, no matter how you prepared it. I only wished I had ordered the larger size.
For even more flavor, after grilling the meat, I dipped each slice into the sauces. On the right was soy sauce, which I mixed with wasabi. On the left was a horseradish sauce that might have had some ginger mixed in. Beside the sauces, there was pink rock salt. A sprinkle across the cutlet changed the flavor profile of the meat.
Served along with the beef cutlet was a huge pile of sliced cabbage, a small but delicious mound of potato salad, a simple miso soup with spongy dried tofu, crunchy and fresh pickled greens, and a basic bowl of white barley rice.
I’m a huge fan of sliced cabbage. I just can’t get enough of it, especially when its piled up high on the plate. It was crispy, crunchy, and fresh and the perfect complement to the breaded and rich meat. Also, there was a dressing for the cabbage found in a small glass container on the table. The dressing, a mixture of oil and vinegar, was slightly watery. It had a sweet flavor, reminding me of the aroma of an orange with a hint of ginger.
The service at Gyūkatsu Motomura was fast and professional. This was surprising considering how many people were waiting in line and how many people they were serving. Also, my food arrived quickly.
Visiting Gyūkatsu Motomura Shinjuku Minamiguchi was an experience. Everything was great from the food to the service. While there was a wait, it was well worth it.
Grilling each piece of beef over the hot grill was a great experience. I could prepare the meat exactly how I wanted and this made every bit even more delicious. It really doesn’t get better than that.
The only negative? My clothes smelled of smoke and grilled meats when I left. Maybe this wasn’t a bad thing.
With branches across Tokyo, I highly recommend a visit to Gyūkatsu Motomura.
- The gyūkatsu was beautiful and tasted even better/li>
- Grilling meat on the hot stone was a great experience/li>
- High quality ingredients for the price
- Service was professional
- Cash only
- Usually a line which can extend onto the sidewalk
- THe staff only knew limited English