I recently went to Ikinari Steak, the Japanese chain with few locations in New York where steaks are cut to order and customers are supposed to eat standing. For the latter, if you go to the location midtown, you will be properly seated. However, it is true that they cut the meat to order, with limited choices: ribeye, filet, sirloin and a cut I never heard about called wild steak that the waitress was not able to explain.
The way it works there is that they seat you at a table that has a number. If it is your first time, they will tell you that they only take orders for sides like soup, salads, garlic pepper rice or mashed potatoes. For steaks, you need to go at the kitchen counter: you choose the cut, the size (the ribeye was $1.6/oz, a good price) and tell them how you want it cooked. You then tell them if you want different sides with the steak such as potatoes or broccoli, the standard being corn and onions (you can substitute and every additional side is just $1).
They told me the steak should take 10 to 15 minutes to come: it took close to 30 minutes. When it comes, I put on a bib that was definitely necessary considering the projections that came out of the piping hot skillet when I poured their signature sauce (and I was wearing a white shirt that day!). The plate smelled really good and the steak was well cooked, medium rare, with a nice char. It was juicy and very tender, but had a bit too much fat. I should mention that all steaks are wet-aged for 40 days.
I also got a glass of sake to accompany my steak. I picked the Ume-Rosé that is made with plum ume sake. It was a bit too sweet for my taste, although they mentioned that it is “no sugar added”.
Overall it was a good meal and despite the long time it took for my steak to come I would go back. I found the meat quite good and prices reasonable for this quality of meat considering how much you have to pay in a Steakhouse. It is a cool concept, but, I would avoid if your co-dinners are vegetarian, the vegetarian options being very limited.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Ikinari Steak - 368 West 46th street, New York, NY 10036