In the land of the steaks, the man with the Ishigaki Wagyu beef is king.
I’m sure we’ve all seen it before. Somewhere on the last bottom part of the menu where we don’t allow ourselves to look due to the price, usually situated between the fillet mignon and the expensive wine selections. I’m talking about of course, the ever so prestigious, Ishigaki Wagyu beef. For those of you not fortunate enough to have tried it yet, this puts Kobe beef to shame. Boy, are you in for a treat.
The popularity of the steak has created a widespread of steak restaurants all throughout the island. As we drove around on our trip, we could find a steak house (or at least a place that serves steak) at almost every single corner. Funny thing is, finding one that actually serves the native Ishigaki beef were slim pickings. Aussie beef sirloin here, Canadian imported beef there, I don’t get it! Was I on the wrong island? I found out that the Ishigaki Wagyu is so well-regarded that not all local beef can be classified as such. It must possess the perfect marbling and pinkish hue close to absolute perfection. Only then can it be stamped (quite literally I might add, with a logo and everything) and be classified as genuine Ishigaki Wagyu.
Finally, after long hours of searching, we were able to find a place that serves the prized steak. The restaurant was called Steakhouse Jan Jan and it was empty. This was the Saturday lunch rush and this restaurant was ranked 3rd amongst the popular steak places on island. Upon inspecting the menu, the reason became apparent. The price for this glorious steak was — drum roll please — 7,800 yen for 200g (7oz)! I wonder… how big of a celebrity was this cow? This must have been one of those special cows that can play tic-tac-toe. Jokes aside, you really do get what you pay for. It was worth every bite. The texture of the beef was so tender and juicy that even if it was only a small piece, it was memorable enough to recall the flavor to this day. My wife tried some and asked me “where is the steak sauce?” THE NERVE! I almost flipped out of my chair. The restaurant also has sirloin and hamburger steaks which are meant for those who are just there for casual steak dining. Good steaks all and all but if you go there, you must try the Ishigaki Wagyu steak.
Another place we found was Ichigyo-Ichie. Just to be sure that it wasn’t the sizzling plate of the 1st restaurant that gave such a good flavor; we tried it again this time at an Izakaya (Japanese drinking pub) restaurant called Ichigyo-Ichie. They serve mostly seafood dishes and some tempura with other finger foods to go with awamori (Okinawan sake) but of course they have the steak as well. To be honest, this was one of the cheapest looking cuts I have ever seen with deep fried garlic bits on top and yet, it was still pretty good. It was a plate with about 5 or 6 slithers and cost 2,480 yen.
Bottom line, Ishigaki folks really know something about their beef. It seems they figured out the right way to raise their cows and exactly what to feed. To not try their beef and visit the island is like living in Okinawa and not having to try Orion. From one steak enthusiast to another, trust me, this is an absolute must. You won’t regret it.
Business Name: Steakhouse Jan Jan (Restaurant)
Tel#: 098- 087-5067
Website: http://www.steak-janjan.com/ (Currently offline)
They accept Creditcards, EDY, and Yen only
Opening Hours: 10:00am-11:00pm (Closed on Wednesdays)
Business Name: Ichigyo-Ichie (Restaurant)
They accept Creditcards and Yen only
Opening Hours: 11:30am-02:00pm (Closed on Thursday), 04:00pm-12:00mn (Everyday)