The math is hazy, but is the quality clear?

“Prisoner of Short Ribs.” That’s what the name of restaurant Kalbi no Toriko translates to, and that alone would have piqued our interest, but there’s another reason we knew we needed to check this place out: Kalbi no Toriko is a sister restaurant to beef bowl giant Yoshinoya, and according to its press release, Yoshinoya’s first sister chain venture in 10 years.

We’re not sure we 100-percent agree with how they did their math, seeing as how we ate at the restaurant Gyuzara Iccho, also run by Yoshinoya, after it opened in December of 2015. But whether it’s been 10 years or eight, either way it’s been a long time since Yoshinoya launched a sister brand, and so our crack reporter Mr. Sato hopped on the train to try Kalbi no Toriko for himself.

Kalbi no Toriko opened its first, and currently only, location on February 23 in the town of Satte, Saitama Prefecture. The closest train stop is Sugito-takanodai Station on the Tobu Nikko Line, which is about 45 minutes north of downtown Tokyo. Ostensibly, as the chain gains popularity they’ll start opening more branches closer to the heart of the city, but if you want to be on the cutting edge of the culinary scene like Mr. Sato is, sometimes you’ve got to do a little legwork.

From the station, it’s about a five-minute walk to Kalbi no Toriko. Oddly enough, you pass by a Yoshinoya on the way.

But Mr. Sato stayed focused and walked right by the gyudon (beef bowl) joint, until he found himself in front of Kalbi no Toriko, with its large brush stroke-font sign declaring that this is the place for gyu-kalbi-don (beef short rib rice bowls) and sundubu (Korean-style tofu stew).

▼ Gyu-kalbi-don (牛カルビ丼) and sundubu (スンドゥブ) get top billing on the menu board, and they also have reimen (cold noodles in broth).

After entering, you buy a meal ticket from a touch-screen terminal, and with this photo of the kalbi being grilled yakiniku-style, there was no way Mr. Sato wasn’t ordering the kalbi-don.

▼ Press the red 店内 button for eat-in orders, or the blue お持ち帰り for take-out.

The regular-size standard gyu-kalbi-don is priced at 590 yen (US$4.50), but since Mr. Sato was feeling both hungry and fancy, he opted for a large Negitama Gyu-kalbi-don for 890 yen, which gives you a dish of green onion and raw egg to pour over your short rib and rice. He also added a 190-yen pickles-and-soup set, and when the staff called out his meal ticket number and he picked his order up at the counter, it was an impressive-looking spread.

The gyu-kalbi-don in particular was beautiful, with nicely thick strips of beef which had been flame-grilled before being placed lovingly atop the rice.

Mr. Sato’s egg and onions were served on the side, for him to add as he pleased. Before that, though, he wanted to try the short rib as is, so he picked up a piece with his chopsticks and popped it into his mouth…

…and it was incredibly delicious. As a matter of fact, it was so good that he felt like it didn’t need anything else to fully satisfy him, so he felt a little regret at having ordered the egg and onion.

Since he had ordered them, though, he wasn’t going to let them go to waste. He poured them on, and it made his bowl look extremely enticing in a new way.

After giving everything a few swirls with his chopsticks to break up the egg and let the heat of the rice semi-cook it, Mr. Sato opted to use a spoon, the better option to scoop up all the eggy element.

And you know what? It was great this way too. The chopped onions provided a great crunchy texture, and while they made their presence felt on his taste buds too, the delicious meaty flavor of the kalbi remained the main sensation.

Still, if you’re going to Kalbi no Toriko for the first time, Mr. Sato recommends starting with their standard Gyu-kalbi-don, and maybe switching things up with something different on your next trip. And hopefully Kalbi no Toriko will open a branch closer to downtown Tokyo soon, since Mr. Sato is now very much their willing prisoner.

Restaurant information
Kalbi no Toriko (Sugito-takanodai branch) / かるびのとりこ(杉戸高野台店)
Address: Saitama-ken, Satte-shi, Kamitakano 2071
Open 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Related: PR Times
Photos ©SoraNews24
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