Why could Mr. Sato possibly be freaking out over this delectable beef bowl?

Mr. Sato certainly likes to think of himself as a tough guy, but even he’s been feeling the effects of the astronomical summer heat wave in Japan. He decided that the best way to gain back some of his manly stamina, apart from posing in a loincloth for our company’s annual calendar, was to eat some meat.

First, a small digression to explain the position of gyudon/beef bowls. In Japan, gyudon is usually viewed as a cheap fast food, since it’s served at chains such as Matsuya, Yoshinoya, and Sukiya, where a regular-sized bowl typically costs about 350-380 yen (US$3.16-3.43). Customers often pay for their meal at a vending machine in the entryway and then wolf down their food at a long counter, all without having to utter a single word if they don’t want to.

Back to the story at hand: On this blistering August day, all Mr. Sato was craving some beef–so he entered the first beef-advertising restaurant that he stumbled upon while strolling in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Tokyo, a place called Shozantei.

The interior was divided by a long table that separated diners into two lines. The atmosphere was distinctly Japanese, and rather than feeling like this was the type of place where he and some pals might “grab some grub,” Mr. Sato definitely felt that the vibe was more along the lines of “Let’s sit down and have a proper meal.”

He glanced at the menu and his eyes promptly bugged out:

The beef selection came in a three-tiered ranking: matsu (pine, the highest), take (bamboo, the middle), and ume (plum, the lowest). Even the lowest-ranking ume selection of beef was 1,000 yen. Mr. Sato wondered if he had picked the wrong restaurant…but he was faint with hunger at that point. Just as he was suffering a slight dizzy spell, the waitress came by so he pointed at the menu and ordered.

When he regained his senses, he almost fainted again (this time from shock) after properly reading what he had pointed at:

▼ The utmost luxurious cut of beef for 6,000 yen (六、〇〇〇円 in Japanese), or 6,480 yen (US$58.40) after tax

Yikes! What had he done?! But the cut was supposedly so sublime that the restaurant only served a limited quantity per day, and there was no backing out now–even though he could have purchased 17 bowls of gyudon for the same price at Yoshinoya…

His order took a bit longer to prepare, but it still came out faster than he was expecting in fewer than 10 minutes. That was the first thing he was surprised about. The second thing was that it came in a glittering, sparkling golden bowl.

▼ You could probably fit two regular-sized bowls inside this gigantic one.

▼ It took Mr. Sato a moment to remember that he had ordered gyudon, a supposed fast food, and not some real gourmet food.

He gingerly opened the lid and was met by a third surprise. Instead of the usual dollop of simmered-down beef and long onion, there were intact slices of beef adorning his rice.

▼ Readers, note carefully! This may be the only time in your life you ever see a 6,480 yen-bowl of gyudon.

Don’t worry if you think the serving looks small–it’s merely an illusion created by the enormous bowl. To top it off (literally), flakes of gold speckled the beef.

The bowl included a large chunk of chateaubriand (from the tenderloin), sirloin, and roast beef, the latter prepared in a style called shigure-ni (simmered with ginger).

Mr. Sato would have been perfectly content to eat it just the way it was, but his tray included a special egg sauce for either drizzling over the meat or dipping. He also had the option to dish some of the roast beef and rice into a smaller bowl found on the table and pour a ready-made broth over it, effectively making ochazuke (green tea or broth poured over a small dish of rice).

The sight of everything rendered him basically incoherent, except for one small word he managed to utter which admittedly made him sound like a girl in the middle of Instagramming her food: Oshare! (“So stylish!”).

Mr. Sato had absolutely zero complaints about the meat. Rather, he felt a compounding sense of guilt as he savored each new bite because it was just that sinfully good.

In fact, he thought he might incur the wrath of the gods by creating ochazuke with such fine cuts of meat, but he did it anyway. He would have to deal with whatever divine punishment came his way later when he at least had a full stomach.

While eating, he decided to try yelling at himself in his mind to keep himself in check: “Know your place, lowly mortal! It’s 100 years too early for you to be enjoying such an extravagance!”

With that, he breathed a deep sigh of contentment as the late bite of beef disappeared from his bowl. He emptied his wallet on the way out and resolved to expand his gastronomic horizons even more in the future once he got rich. In the meantime, he also resolved that he would pay a bit more attention to restaurant signs to make sure they weren’t expensive wagyu (Japanese beef) specialty restaurants before blindly walking inside.

Restaurant information
Shozantei (Shinjuku branch) / 翔山亭(新宿本店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 7-11-17 Blessten Nishi-Shinjuku
東京都新宿区西新宿7-11-17 ブレステン西新宿
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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