Hanasaki Butchers Store, Japan Does Argentinian BBQ
Diligently handling a colossal brisket, the chef works quickly and with ease, preparing part of the evening’s beautiful offerings. Hanasaki Butchers Store’s two kitchen staff gracefully whisks themselves to and from the open kitchen. Surrounded by a gorgeous wooden bar where eager patrons wait and watch. The three staff members put on a dance that is only made all the more enticing by the aroma of the hickory smoke wafting in the air.
When imagining Japanese cuisine, thoughts on untouchable presentation, silent, stern old chefs, and an air of tradition that surrounds the food quickly comes to mind. While this may be the case for a few places, there are so many exciting restaurants that offer something different and fresh. Hanasaki Butchers Store is one of those places.
Located near Sakuragicho station in Yokohama and a couple of blocks into the infinitely less sterile and much more exciting neighborhood of Noge, Hanasaki Butchers Store is 40 years more trendy than it’s surrounding buildings.
Gentrification I can get behind.
Hanasaki Butchers Store provides a generally pleasant and laid back atmosphere. The crowd seems to be locals and salarymen taking a break mostly. The wood and brick interior helps you feel as if you were having a BBQ with friends. The drinks sit on a table in the corner where patrons help themselves. An excellent selection of clean and natural drinks are on display, not a soda in sight. Cutlery is nowhere to be seen until you are instructed to pull a drawer handle under the bar.
Hidden cutlery is much more exciting than you think it is. Super cute.
While checking the grand menu, I realize that while this is an Argentinian style BBQ restaurant, the more traditional fare is reserved for dinner.
The lunch menu that stares back at me seems to be some hodgepodge of world cuisine, with some element of each dish grilled in the churrasco or asado style. Porchettas, jerk chicken, steaks, chorizo, and curries all manage to find a place on the roster. Having the luxury a dining partner, we decide to take on a world tour of tastes.
the adventure begins
This coarse meat sausage is definitely in the style of a Chorizo Argentino. The sausage alone is very pleasantly spiced and offers up a very mild heat, but never ventures into the spicy territory.
It is when you add some of the provided stone ground mustard and basil to a bite that the sausage shines. Together they create a very nice mouthfeel and a more robust taste.
The mashed potatoes are very smooth and have a milky, buttery presence without overpowering the pallet.
Overall it was a hit, albeit a very safe one.
Ja’making me crazy! No? OK I’ll stop
The more middle ground of interesting choices is the jerk chicken. When first taking a bite, the pleasant taste of the smoke almost tricks your mind into thinking you are eating a sauceless pork rib. It isn’t until a few seconds into chewing that you get the wonderful jerk taste that you expect. It is an unexpected pleasant surprise to see how the small difference in grilling method could produce such a difference from traditional jerk chicken.
The jerk spice is fine, but could have a little more heat. Argentinian style grilling is what helps make this something that you might find yourself wanting to eat again.
Under the chicken is enjoyable rice that provides a little break from the smokey chicken. Together they work very well.
A simple soup and salad accompany the lunch set. Luckily they aren’t on their own, as it doesn’t add much to the overall meal.
Curry is huge in Japan. I have become huge partly in thanks to curry.
This culinary fusion is probably the most exciting midday offering. Curry is a very typical lunch option in Japan, but it is not often made using asado style steak.
The curry itself is in the thick roux style that is typical to Japan. Its spices manage to be powerful and on point. There are few if any sweet notes, but it stays very balanced. The taste stands on its own. When combined with the cheese and steak, it acts more like a gravy that elevates the rest of the items in the dish.
They cooked the asado steak decently for this dish. Medium rare, with just enough smoke from the grill to give a lift to the curry without overpowering it. On its own, the steak is excellent but is meant to go with the curry. It doesn’t stand up as well as I’m sure a steak would if ordered alone. With a little more bark, something that grilling excels at, it would be a home run.
The lunch set also comes with the same soup and salad as the Jerk chicken. It serves just about the same purpose here.
Hanasaki Butchers Store: solid eats
The smile that one only gets when handling meat
Hanasaki Butcher Shop has a sign out front that seems to be its rules about food. It mostly talks about cooking with thought, care, and in a way that won’t produce waste. It’s easy to tell that through the creativity and passion shown in my meal, this is something that they do in fact live by.
I can easily recommend this place just for its lunch offerings. Hanasaki Butchers Store’s fearlessness in mixing a bunch of styles and cuisines is exciting. It gets me pumped to seek out other places like it in Japan.
An idol showcasing of all the meats we ate today