Last Friday evening, after a rough week at work, my buddy and I decided we needed to do some serious carnivore. When "serious carnivore" is mentioned, one of the first places I think of is Barbacoa, a churrasco joint in Omotesando. Luckily, this is also where my friend Peter had in mind.
He showed up at 6:00, without a reservation, and was able to get us a table. That early in the evening, Barbacoa has a 2 hour first seating. Fine by us.
Now, in past visits to this beef heaven, I've found it to be kind of hit-and-miss. And, I've been trying to figure out why this is. Last Friday, I might have gotten a handle on it: Go early!
The menu has two different sets on it. The first is an all-you-can eat, for like 3300 yen,(never paid much attention to this option).
The second is the all-you-can eat AND drink (drinks must be off of the drink menu), for, I think, either 5500 or 6500 yen. This is the one that Peter and I went for.
At each customer's place setting is a small plastic "cow chip". It is red on one side, and green on the other. When you are ready to start eating, turn the chip so that the green side is facing up. Turn it to the red side to signal surrender.
At 6:00, we turned our chips green, ordered our drinks, and were served a coulple of killer caipirinhas. Finished those, no sign of meat, so we ordered another round. Around 6:20, the meats started making an appearance. Granted, we COULD have killed some time at their admirable,(by Tokyo standards) salad bar, but we didn't want to. We wanted meat.
The first offerings brought from the kitchen were chicken legs, and sausages. Chicken wasn't going to cut it that evening, so I went with the sausages. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, with the proper amount of hot spice to require another caipirinha.
And then, the different meats started coming at warp speed.
Pepper steak: Beautiful pepper crust, beautiful medium-rare coloring, great texture, very tender, and very flavorful.
Sirloin Steak: Probably the only "miss" of the evening. Though it is cooked between well-rare, and rare-medium-rare, and had a great flavor, it was just a tough little bugger to chew.
Hump Steak: Stop giggling, everybody! This is taken off of the top hump of the critter. And, this night, it was amazing! Beautiful, brown and crispy on the outside, and a 1/4 inch into the slice, beautifully medium-rare. Extremely tender, juicy, and just beefalicious. Small pieces of rock salt, left on the outside, dictated another caipirinha.
Ribs: Flintstone-esque ribs, brought to the table, from which they slice the meat. This has always been one of the great disappointments at Barbacoa. But, this evening, it was very, very good. Wonderfully tender, moist, lots of ribbish flavor. Many times, it is a bit tough, and dry.
Rib Steak: Simply put, chunks of prime rib. Three different pieces on the skewers, each cooked to a different doneness, gradianting from rare, to a well-medium-rare. I went for the rare, which was truly cool in the center. There is no horseradish sauce served, but this didn't need it! The flavor of this cut by itself held up admirably.
Garlic Steak: Magnificant! Totally tender, medium-rare, and, even though it is coated with garlic bits, the garlic enhances, as opposed to overwhelming, the beef. Time for another caipirinha.
During the meal, the waiters also bring around skewers of roasted potatoes, onions, and baked pineapple. Although I didn't partake this time, (hey, none of them were beef) my past experiences with these dishes is very positive. Especially the pineapple.
After last call, (another caipirinha), we turned our "cow chips" red side up, and the waiters brought around a pretty good cup of coffee, and a very nice kiwi sorbet. The sorbet was a bit of a suprise. It was like eating a semi-frozen, quite ripe kiwi, with just a small sprinkle of sugar on it.
After about eight visits to Barbacoa, (over the last 3 years), I'd recommend getting there around 6:00-6:30, when the meat seems to be first coming out of the kitchen.
The four occasions I've hit Barbacoa at this time, I've never been disappointed. Later in the evening, it seems like some of the beef might, just MIGHT, be in "re-heat" mode.
Barbacoa Grill 3796-0571.
Jingumae 4-3-24 B1F.
Open 11:30am-3pm, 5:30-11pm daily.