Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rikyu 牛たん炭焼利久 : Popular Charcoal Grilled Beef Tongue from Sendai

Rikyu is another beef tongue specialty restaurant from Sendai. It may not be the first restaurant the started this cuisine but it seems like the most popular or successful beef tongue chain restaurant outside Sendai with outlets in prime spots such as Tokyo Station and Tokyo Sky Tree Solamachi.  One reason we picked this outlet is that the menu has a section called 創作料理 that offers more than just the usual teishokus (set meals). For instance, this spring roll with slices of beef tongue, cheese and miso (650 yen) was a creative dish that eliminated the greasiness of beef tongue without compromising its original flavors. The sweet and sour sauce reminds me of those from Thai sauce bottles that I haven't had in ages!  牛たんタタキ風 
However, the Beef Tongue in Tataki Style (1260 yen) was a major let-down. Those thin-slices of seared beef tongue were not sufficiently marinated and served below room temperature. Hence, biting into the dry, bland and chilled meat became an arduous task to follow. Some citrus shoyu dipping sauce would have been more ideal than the pathetic splatters of pesto sauce and balsamic vinegar on the plate.  

A typical Beef tongue set meal comes with the oxtail soup and Mugi-gohan (barley rice). Instead of having the regular set meals, we went for Gyutan and Vegetable Assembly Set (1680 yen) since it was only available for 50 sets at the Lumine Shinjuku outlet. 
The main star is of course the grilled beef tongue. However, unlike Negishi that allows diners to pick either thin-cut or thick-cut, these come in standard thick slices that were too chunky to wrestle with. Though the seasonings were just right, I prefer the texture from Negishi.
Oxtail SoupAnd it seems that the chef is trying too hard to create a healthy set meal. The pumpkin quiche that is layered with pieces of beef tongue at the base had soggy crusts.  

The trio of vegetable marinade, spring roll and fish-cum-vegetable jelly did not look or taste appetizing either.  

Dessert of Almond Jelly and Persimmon for the set.
Hence, it might be wiser to stick to the regular set meals as the quality of the extra side dishes do not justify the higher price.  
Fortunately, it was not a defeated battle when it comes to the beef tongue stew (945 yen ala carte/1365 yen set with rice, mini salad and oxtail soup). Ignoring the stale toast, the braised beef tongues were tender and the gravy was rich and thick.  
Long queues are a common sight but fortunately we did not have to queue for long. Besides, the grilled Gyutan did not leave a deep impression as much as Sandaime Bunji or Negishi and thus the end of my story with Rikyu.  

Rikyu 牛たん炭焼利久  
Shinjuku Lumine Est 7F  
Nearest Station: JR Shinjuku  
Daily 11am-11pm
Click here for Negishi's review
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