Korean barbecue, or yakiniku as it’s known here is Japan, is a popular among all diners, but particularly men seem drawn to the primal enjoyment of roasting gobs of raw meat over flames. Or maybe they just like meat. Either way, the customer base skews male.
However, this month a pop-up yakiniku restaurant in Tokyo’s Ebisu neighborhood seemed to be taking particular aim at the ladies. Let’s see if you can spot their unique approach.
Macho Nikuya, as the restaurant was called, was open from November 2–9 as a collaboration between an existing restaurant and a muscle-bound group of food-promoting entertainers known as Macho 29. Macho 29 have done similar restaurant promotions in the past, for example taking over a shaved ice shop over the summer, where the bared pecs and sweet syrups attracted lines around the block.
We sent Kon Inoue, muscle-loving reporter for our Japanese sister site Pouch, to check out this meat fest.
Hi, guys, Kon here. As someone who has been enchanted by the appeal of a buff body many times in the past, I headed off to Macho Nikuya’s opening day to file this report.
- Enjoy Macho’s daily specials
The stage for this spectacle is Yakiniku Oonishi, a popular and reasonable yakiniku restaurant that has prime selections of meat shipped in from Osaka every day.
As I step through the door, a wall of apron-clad half-nakedness lies in wait. Today’s staff are Mr. Sugawara, who has been with Macho 29 for five years, Mr. Aska, a relative newbie at three years, and 10-year veteran and manager Great Saiyaman. In one voice, they cheerfully shout, “What muscles do you like?!” Without hesitation, I tell them my favorite body parts, which they happily flex and present for my appreciation.
I respond with, “Wow, you are cut!” and “They’re so big!” These are standard phrases of appreciation in the bodybuilding world, I’ve heard. One has to observe the proper form for these occasions, after all.
There was even a lady brave enough to say, “Nice, nice. You must have really bulked up for today.” She was really down with the lingo.
- A very macho menu
The menu only has a few choices, each listed with the amount of protein it contains. The Macho Frankfurter went for 900 yen (about US$7.30), the Thin-cut Ma-kon Steak for 900 yen, the Macho 29 Selection with prime offal, miso pork and more for 1129 yen (US$9.15), and the Macho 29 Special with haunch, rib and sirloin tip for 2900 yen (US$23.50). No matter which you choose, the staff assure you it will give you “a workout.”
I also opted for the Oroka Gohan, or Stupid Rice, causing the heads of nearby beefcakes to swivel my way and my waiter to ask, “Are you really going to eat carbohydrates? That’s going to send your blood sugar sky-high!” I told them I really did want it, so they shook their heads sadly and served it. They did kindly suggest that I should go work out within two hours, though.
As for the drink menu, here a nama will get you not a draft beef, but three raw eggs! If that turns your stomach, there are protein shakes. This place positively oozes manliness!
Aside from the set menus, Macho Nikuya has a very unique was of ordering individual cuts of meat. Using a set of color-coded stickers, customers simply affix a sticker to the part of their waiter’s bulging body that corresponds to the cut they want. Yes, this a totally legal way to cop a feel. If you say, “You’re so cut,” he might even make those pecs dance a la Schwarzenegger.
“Anywhere but the nipples,” sighed Mr. Aska of the 64cm thighs.
Tasty yakinuku and a bunch of buff babes. Truly, it was a dream collaboration.
▼ The Niku no Katamari (4,000 yen/US$32.40), or Mounds of Meat, already looks good, but…
▼…pair it with pecs and suddenly it’s mouth-watering!
▼Careful you don’t shatter that glass, boys.
▼Great Saiyaman easily lifts his 85-kilo manager, Mr. Suzuki.
▼Meat, and beyond that, a macho man. Opinions differ on which is the more beautiful view.
Thanks for that report, Kon! Now get a cool glass of water and take a moment to calm down.
[ Read in Japanese ]