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News about Wagyu Yakiniku Ichiro’s very recent opening has caught on fast, and it was slammed with diners on the evening we visited, despite being open for just a few weeks. There are certainly a lot of yakinku fans out there, especially when it’s all-you can-eat yakiniku that involves a whole lotta Wagyu.
The design of the 7,000-square-foot dining space (it’s huge!) is sleek and modern through the use of plenty of white tiling, stainless steel and concrete. Near the entrance, you can see some of the chefs at work in a glass-enclosed kitchen, and there’s another chef out front and centre carefully slicing the prized beef cuts.
The most-talked about design feature of Wagyu Yakiniku Ichiro is what’s dubbed “bullet train” service, an automated system that whisks items to diners’ tables via conveyor belt. On the evening of our visit, the eatery was simply too busy for it to be in full use, with the waitstaff bringing orders to tables for the most part. We were lucky to get a photo or two though!
The all-you-can-eat concept extends beyond BBQ, and inviting, well-stocked drink, salad and dessert stations ($48/person Monday–Thursday; $58/person Friday–Sunday and public holidays) are located at the back of the restaurant. We loved the fruit waters and fresh juices and the extensive display of Japanese ice lollies, with flavours including soda, milk and red bean (sadly for us, the uber-popular monaka ice-cream sandwich was already sold out). While fresh, the salads were on the basic side; on the day of our visit, we only saw a green vegetable salad and macaroni salad up for grabs. The dessert bites were pretty, but we found them overly sweet, so we only managed a few bits.
We didn’t try any of the alcoholic bevvies, which are not part of the free-flow deal, but they notably include sake from some of Japan’s most prestigious distilleries as well as sake-inspired cocktails and mocktails.
The all-you-can-eat courses
The grill specialist serves up six “Wagyu Unlimited” dinner courses (A–F), starting from course A, which is priced at under $350 a head on weekdays (all the courses are priced higher at the weekend). The hefty menu – frankly, it’s overwhelming – features page after page of meat, seafood, veggies and more for grilling, plus a wide selection of other dishes such as ramen, tempura and rice bowls. Each menu item is letter-coded so that you know whether or not it’s included in your course (you can also order each item à la carte if it’s not included). And if an item is indeed part of your chosen course, feel free to order it as many times as you want in a 120-minute time period (there are just a few exceptions to this rule, special items that can only be ordered once).
We were generously treated to the most premium course of the lot – course F ($1,048/person on weekdays or $1,098/person on weekends) – which includes a whopping 105 menu items. The stars of this course are the assorted cuts of Oda beef.
The hero of the Wagyu at the restaurant is Odagyu A4 Wagyu from the nearly 50-year-old Oda Chikusan ranch in Kagoshima Prefecture, located at the south-western tip of the island of Kyushu. Uniquely, Odagyu cattle are fed on a 12-compound feed (corn, barley, rice and more) and looked after carefully in comfortable conditions. Their meat is well known for its intense marbling, rich flavour and melt-in-the-mouth texture.
Here are some of the highlights of our yakiniku feast (with the à-la-carte prices listed):
The premium assorted Kagoshima black Wagyu platter ($498) is a great way to try a little bit of all the best Oda Wagyu cuts. The thinly sliced top blade was our favourite of the bunch for its exceedingly buttery tenderness. This is a one-time-only item that’s soley included in course F.
We did have a bit of trouble grilling our meat. Perhaps it was just our table’s grill, but we found it difficult to control the temperature, with flames shooting up every now and then, leaving us in clouds of smoke.
The special of the day – Oda sirloin ($218) – was delivered to us by treasure chest on dry ice. And what a treasure it was: juicy, fatty, umami, luscious. This is also a one-time-only offering in courses D–F.
You’re able to order this massive assorted fune ($248) boat with any of the courses – just once, mind you. Presentation wise, it’s certainly showstopping, but we didn’t think any of the meats, while of good quality, were standouts – it’s hard to top that Oda Wagyu, after all.
There’s an array of beef sushi on the menu, and the seared sukiyaki sushi ($98) – there’s a small mound of sushi rice underneath each of those gigantic, tender beef slices – was our choice. Its flavour was brought to life tableside and made even richer after repeatedly dunking it into the eggy sauce.
You can also order sushi rolls (not all are made with beef). The roast Kagoshima Oda beef sushi rolls ($98) were packed with flavour, and we enjoyed the texture that the cream-cheese centre imparted.
An unexpected winner on the side, we couldn’t get enough of these Korean-syle cold noodles ($68), which perfectly cut through all the meaty heaviness. The thin, oh-so-chewy noodles are simply toothsome, swimming in a light, chilled beef broth.
One side we wouldn’t recommend is the chicken nanban ($48), a traditional fried-chicken dish from Kyushu that’s accompanied by a zesty tartare sauce. It arrived to our table cold and rubbery.
We had such a fun experience at Wagyu Yakiniku Ichiro, and we think it will continue to remain packed night after night. The yakiniku ingredients are all of very high quality – particularly that sublime Oda beef – and we rate the free-flow drinks, salads and desserts too. We don’t think diners need to go all out and order the top-of-the-range course though. We saw a lot of food wastage on other tables, which was disappointing, although we’re told that any wastage is supposedly charged a fee (kudos for that). Instead, we recommend going for a middle-tier course, which still includes a lot of the menu highlights.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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