As Tokyo prepares for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, restaurants, hotels and cultural hubs are preparing to accommodate a wave of international visitors. This also means offering options for those with dietary restrictions, be it vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or allergies. There have been a considerable amount of restaurants that fall under those categories popping up throughout the city, and lately, restaurants started offering Muslim-friendly options as well.
Gonpachi, the restaurant chain known for its Nishi-Azabu location’s appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, is a popular destination for tourists and foreign residents and cinephiles alike and offers a unique experience of Japanese food. Working closely with members of the Muslim community, Gonpachi created a halal wagyu beef course that checks all the boxes and promises a worry-free, authentic Japanese bar experience at four of its Tokyo locations. TW had the chance to give it a bite, and we were not disappointed.
Gonpachi has a well-established reputation to elevate the traditional Japanese meal, not limiting themselves to bringing its customers the best of washoku, but adding a fun twist making every dish an experience.
The course starts with fresh sashimi with two dipping and one seasoning options: classic soy sauce, oyster sauce and harissa. Though the latter is unorthodox and certainly surprised us, it was a perfect fit not only for the fish but for everything that followed. After the sashimi comes fried oysters. The last of amuse-bouches, but certainly not the least, is a fried shrimp dumpling with yuzu chili sauce; a simple dish, in theory, but its presentation resembled the algae moving in the waves. Though not the easiest dish to eat, we’ll admit, it’s worth the struggle — and the mess.
The highlight of the meal is the wagyu beef. This courses used Ozaki, a brand of wagyu from Kyushu’s Miyazaki Prefecture that’s said to be high in essential nutrients and free of preservatives and antibiotics. Unlike mass-produced commercial beef, Ozaki is flavorful without the heavy use of seasoning. Cooked just right, they are soft and melt in your mouth, and if you’re feeling wild, go ahead and add a dot of harissa.
Gonpachi sources its meat from a producer certified halal, meaning that they adhere to Islamic laws when it comes to slaughtering the animal. Muslim visitors from overseas can comfortably take a bite of Japan’s highly-acclaimed wagyu beef that suits their particular dietary needs. If seafood is a delicate matter, a topic often debated within the Muslim community, customers are encouraged to mention their concerns when making a reservation.
While the steak is the star of this course, our hearts belong to the rice porridge that followed it. Using beef broth, chunks of beef and rice, it’s everything you could ask for when it comes to comfort food. We can’t wait to go back and have some during winter. After such a heavy dish, surely you’ll think what we were thinking: a light dessert would be the perfect ending to this culinary journey. Thankfully, the course does include a bit of sweetness to top off your evening.
This course is available at four Gonpachi locations: Gonpachi Asakusa Azumabashi (a Halal-Certified Restaurant), Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu, Gonpachi Shibuya and Gonpachi G-Zone Ginza. The staff is bilingual. Find information on our Concierge listing.