Take-out from expensive restaurant in the most expensive part of Tokyo hurts the wallet, thrills the taste buds.

Though most restaurants in Japan remain open for eat-in dining, a lot of us are choosing to get our meals to-go during the pandemic. So when he found his stomach growling, our Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato decided the best thing to do was to just go pick up a sandwich and bring it back home to eat.

Ordinarily, we’d call that a casual lunch…except that the sandwich he picked up from a restaurant in downtown Tokyo cost him 8,650 yen (US$82).

You can probably guess that that’s not by any means a normal price for a take-out sandwich in Japan, but Mr. Sato didn’t go to just any sandwich joint. As a matter of fact, Ginza Hirayama, located in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district, isn’t a sandwich specialist at all, but actually a high-class steak restaurant. How high-class? Their least expensive lunch is 16,500 yen, and dinner will set you back at least 36,300 yen per person.

Considering those prices, an 8,650-yen steak sandwich from Giza Hirayama felt like a bargain. After calling in his order, Mr. Sato went to pick it up, and the staff who handed him his purchase treated him with all the polished courtesy that you’d expect from one of the finest restaurants in one of the world’s best cities for foodies.

Instead of a plain plastic sack, Mr. Sato’s steak sandwich was placed inside an elegant shopping bag that made it look like he was on his way home from a shopping trip to a fancy boutique to buy a pair of designer sunglasses or a new cummerbund or something. And rather than just lying loose in the bag, his chow was reverently protected by a wooden box tied shut with string.

Opening it up, his eyes were greeted by the tantalizing crimson cross-sections of the steak slices, nestled between pieces of bread with their crusts trimmed off, as is the sandwich style in Japan.

They looked so beautiful that he actually wanted a little more space to spread them out, so he quickly transferred them to a plate from his cupboard which cost a mere fraction of what his lunch had.

Picking up a piece, he took a bite and experienced both a delicious flavor and a strange sensation. The taste was amazing, just as you’d expect for such premium-grade beef, but the texture is what really stood out…or, perhaps you could say it didn’t stand out at all.

Since Ginza Hirayama doesn’t want a lot of distractions from the flavor of the steak, the sandwich is just bread and meat. The steak is so tender, though, that Mr. Sato couldn’t notice any change in texture as he bit into the sandwich and his teeth passed the first ingredient and into the second. There’s no discordant stringiness or even a trace of unpleasant gristle. Instead, everything melts together in your mouth as the steak, bread, and seasonings form a perfect harmony, and if you’re going to drop 8,000 yen-plus on a sandwich, Mr. Sato says this is the one to do it on.

Restaurant information
Ginza Hirayama / 銀座ひらやま
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 7-17-1
Open 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
Closed Sundays

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