Tokyo: fine steaks and the ultimate Wagyu steak sandwich at Shima
Rarely does a restaurant offer fine dining options and on top gets the gold medal on finger-licking take-away options. The only problem is you can’t indulge into the latter if you do a sit-in. So here’s the deal on why you should be rushing to Shima’s wagyu steak sandwich on your next lunch break!
Chef Oshima Manabu is one of the most charming and nicest chefs we happened to meet in Tokyo. Shima steakhouse may be operating at the basement of a no-sign location and staff may be very specific in terms of how they run this place - regardless, hospitality at the 8-seater counter steakhouse is very warm. Just make sure you decide on what it is you want to taste as steaks are offered for a sit-in but the infamous Wagyu steak sandwich is not. So before you go on making a reservation (which is undoubtedly quite hard to do, but can manage through third-party reservation companies if you try early enough) make up your mind.
The wagyu beef is sourced from Wadoyama town and is of great quality despite the somewhat reasonable price Oshima-san offers it at. As soon as you go down the narrow dirty steps of this office building close to Tokyo station, you immediately immerse in a relatively quiet restaurant that runs like clockwork. Chefs in white uniforms (and some of them in masks) carefully prepare the grill, showcase the raw pieces of beef to patrons by the counter and patiently prepare orders (including the take-away sandwiches) right in front of your very eyes.
Although they offer some decent appetizers (their crab meat croquettes is very popular) as well as some other seafood, steak is what they specialize in. And it shows as even Oshima-san himself tends to them one by one, orchestrating the whole operation. And it’s repeated in the exact same format. Especially for the wagyu steak sandwich. Chefs grill the thick milk bread slices before spreading their signature tomato relish and mustard sauce, they weigh up the wagyu beef pieces before carefully sizzling them enough to make a juicy medium cooking, then gently placing them between the grilled bread slices until they cut off the edges off of them. Even the box they use to place the three pieces of this delicacy is custom-made.