Yakiniku just got even more exciting.

There are a number of chains specialising in yakiniku (grilled meat) in Japan, but the nation’s largest, and most famous, is Gyukaku.

With over 600 branches in Japan, and a number overseas, you’d be hard pressed to find a meat lover in Japan who hasn’t eaten at a Gyukaku, but only the most passionate of meat lovers will know there are 21 branches that offer something the others don’t: special delivery lanes.

Located only in Japan, one such branch opened in Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture of Kanagawa on 23 May, so our meat-loving reporter Mr Sato headed out there immediately to see what it was all about.

Slipping into a booth at the restaurant, Mr Sato took a moment to peruse the menu. Since this is an all-you-can-eat specialty restaurant, that’s exactly what they offer, with different price tiers to suit a range of budgets and tastes. Mr Sato opted for the “Casual Lunch Course“, priced at 2,480 yen (US$17.76), which allowed him to choose from 79 different menu items over the span of 100 minutes, with last orders needing to be placed by the 80-minute mark.

Like other branches, orders are to be placed via the tabletop tablet, but the way your order arrives at your table isn’t by waitstaff…

▼ …it’s by delivery lane!

Similar to the way sushi is delivered to diners at a revolving sushi restaurant, this branch of Gyukaku uses an automated delivery lane. It’s a system that a few yakiniku stores have begun to adopt in recent years, such as Yakiniku Toraji, whose lane is seen below.

▼ And Kamimura Bokujo, which has an innovative two-tiered lane.

However, what makes Gyukaku’s lane so different is that unlike the others, which contain a moving conveyor belt, this one is slightly more evolved as it’s the tray itself that moves.

▼ Check out the self-propelled tray!

This means the lane is visually pleasing, appearing to look like a wooden counter, and the system itself is easier to repair if necessary, as it’s only the tray that will need fixing instead of a large metal unit.

Seeing the tray whizz by him made Mr Sato’s empty belly fill with excitement, so he placed an order for four items and waited impatiently for his food to arrive.

Is it here yet? Is it coming?” Mr Sato thought, as he kept his eyes glued for a sight of the tray.

Staring down the lane like an excited little child, Mr Sato was suddenly pulled out of his concentrated line of thought by a staff member, who approached his table and said cheerfully,

“Excuse me! I’ve brought you your order!!”


Slightly embarrassed at being caught with his eyes fixated on the lane, Mr Sato blushed and thanked the staff member as he placed his food down in front of him.

Mr Sato wasn’t sure why his order wasn’t sent to him via self-propelled tray, but he decided the only thing to do now was finish all this food so he could try it again with another order.

Thankfully, the meat was delicious so finishing it all quickly wasn’t a difficult task.

With his plates now empty, Mr Sato was ready to order more meat. The question was, would it arrive by tray or human?

▼ Ta daaaaa!

When the tray appeared and stopped by his table, Mr Sato felt giddy with excitement. He had plenty of time to retrieve his food before it disappeared, and when he ordered a bowl of rice, he was happy to find that it arrived by tray too!

There was something about the way the tray slid along the wood that made Mr Sato feel as if he was in a high-class restaurant. It also helped to fuel his appetite, as his desire to see it drove him to order more and more meat until he was full enough to burst.

▼ Out of everything he ate, Mr Sato says these thick-sliced beef short ribs were the best.

The delivery lane added a load of fun and excitement to the delicious meal…and a slight sense of anxiety, as Mr Sato was never sure if his order would come by tray or staff.

This is likely because the branch has just opened, though, so once they’ve fine-tuned their service, and worked out what gets served by what, things will no doubt become as smooth as the tray that glides along the lane. And now that Mr Sato has had a taste of this yakiniku experience, you can bet he’ll be back for more!

Restaurant information
Gyukaku All-You-Can-Eat Specialty Store Sagamiono Branch / 牛角食べ放題専門店 相模大野店
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Sagamihara-shi, Minami-ku, Sagamiono 1-25-3
Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 4 p.m.-midnight (Mon-Fri); 11 a.m.-midnight (Sat and Sun)

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