Japanese homewares giant follows in the footsteps of Ikea…but there are no Swedish meatballs here. 

Japanese furniture and home accessories retail chain Nitori is known for its stylish, well-priced furnishings. Founded in 1967 by the current president, Akio Nitori, the chain now has over 400 stores in Japan, as well as 35 in Taiwan, 34 in China, and two in the U.S.

With the number of Nitori stores currently outnumbering Ikea stores globally (as of August 2020, Ikea has 445), the Japanese chain is a giant in the furnishings world, and it looks set to get even bigger, following the announcement that they’ve now branched out into the world of restaurants.

This foray into the food and beverage industry is a first for the company, and it’s only been a recent move, with their very first restaurant opening at the Nitori Umejima Shopping Mall in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward on 18 March.

Currently, this is the only Nitori restaurant in all of Japan, so our Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato was keen to make the trip out there to check it out. Called Nitori Dining Minna no Grill (which translates to “Everyone’s Grill”), the restaurant is housed in a building that was formerly home to a branch of Ikinari! Steak, which is appropriate, seeing as steaks are a specialty of Nitori Dining.

▼ This tasty-looking sign at the front shows Chicken Steak, Chicken Gratin, and a Dutch Baby Pancake, all at great prices.

Stepping inside the restaurant, Mr Sato was greeted by a familiar interior that retains a strong “Ikinari! Steak” feel. Ikinari has been closing a number of restaurants over the past year due to a drop in sales brought about by COVID-19, and it looks like Nitori may be planning to step in to the premises vacated by the chain, with a second restaurant scheduled to open at a former Ikinari! Steak branch in Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture on 27 April.

▼ These utensils will be familiar to Ikinari! Steak diners.

Taking a look at the menu, Mr Sato saw that the signature Chicken Steak (500 yen [US$4.58]) had been given pride of place at the very top. Other tasty options include:

Hamburg Steak (700 yen) and Rib Steak (990 yen)…

Hamburg and Chicken Steak Combo (900 yen), Rib Steak and Chicken Steak Combo (1,200 yen), Chicken Gratin (500 yen), and a Kid’s Plate (450 yen).

▼ And over on the Recommended Special Menu there’s a Lamb Steak (990 yen) and Chicken Steak and Lobster (1,490 yen).

All the continuous mentions of Chicken Steak gave Mr Sato a curious craving for it, so he decided to treat himself to a Rib Steak and Chicken Steak Combo. Taking a look at the finer details on the menu, he found that rice and salad aren’t included with the meal, and need to be ordered separately. Alternatively, you can order all-you-can-eat salad, soup and rice as a set for 350 yen.

At lunchtimes (11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.), the rice, salad, and soup set is a little cheaper, priced at 280 yen.

When using the all-you-can-eat bar, diners need to sanitise their hands and wear the plastic gloves provided. Mr Sato was pleased to see the restaurant taking such care with coronavirus countermeasures.

By the time he’d served himself up some rice and salad, his meal had arrived on a hot iron plate, sizzling enticingly.

“Nitori” and “food and drink” had never been connected together in Mr Sato’s mind before, but as soon as he saw what was being offered, he somehow got the impression that that this was a Nitori meal.

▼ Simple, reasonably priced, and reliable.

As for the taste, it was neither good nor bad, but given the low price, Mr Sato wasn’t complaining. It had been cooked well and it filled him up nicely, which is exactly what you want when refuelling before or after a day of shopping for homewares.

▼ The chicken steak was especially good, with just the right amount of fat to add flavour but still appeal to health-conscious diners.

With so many Nitori stores nationwide, Minna no Grill restaurants are well poised to make a big impact on the casual dining scene in Japan. And given the popularity of the company’s furnishings and homewares, there’ll be a lot of customers keen to try their food options as well.

So look out, Ikea–you may have infiltrated Tokyo with your veggie dogs and tunnbröds, but Nitori is now just one step behind, and you’ve got Daiso breathing down your neck with its new Standard Products store too.

Restaurant Information

Nitori Dining Minna no Grill Umejima Branch / ニトリダイニング みんなのグリル環七梅島店
Address: Tokyo-to, Adachi-ku, Umejima 2-31-26 Nitori Umejima Detached Shopping Centre
東京都足立区梅島2丁目31-26 ニトリ梅島ショッピングセンター別棟
Hours: 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.

Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]