Celebrating five years since inception, global dining sensation WAGYUMAFIA have opened their latest project WAGYUMAFIA DISTRICT. Located close to the new Olympic stadium in Tokyo, along Shibuya’s iconic Jingumae road, WAGYUMAFIA DISTRICT is situated within an inconspicuous multi-storey building, identified by a thin, neon red line above the entrance door. The interior boasts many highly bespoke finishes with each detail receiving the same level of consideration and care as the beef itself.
Set over three levels with four different concepts, the 10 seater (15 standing) ground floor space (1F) is open to walk-in guests and houses WAGYUMAFIA THE BURGER serving the iconic ‘BIG WAG’ – Chef Founder Hisato Hamada’s re-imagination of a childhood classic. Made of 100% single source, pure Ozaki beef set in a hand-crafted sesame bun, with house-made sauce, crisp lettuce, fresh pickles and organic American cheddar cheese, this one-of-a-kind burger debuted at the 2018 Opinionated About Dining Awards, before touring Chicago and London to huge acclaim. Other specialty menu items on offer here include the famous cutlet sando, white truffle potato fries, WAGYUMAFIA craft beers -Yuzu IPA and Sansho lager – and their canned whisky HIGHBALL.
Coffee also has not been overlooked. Using the EG-1 Electric Coffee Grinder designed by Douglas Weber – the former Apple product engineer and mastermind behind Weber Workshops Precision Coffee Tools – Hisato has collaborated with former 2014 World Barista Champion Hide Izaki to serve world-class coffee.
Guests will also be able to purchase merchandise from their CHATEAUBRIAND fashion brand and other WAGYUMAFIA products.
Unable to travel outside Japan due to COVID restrictions, Hisato and co-founder Takafumi (Taka) Horie reignited their fondness for jingisukan, the famous Hokkaido method of grilling mutton. Replacing the mutton for wagyu, YAKINIKUMAFIA FOR MEMBERS ONLY seats 28 guests and serves its signature WAGYUJISKAN, a method of barbeque with WAGYUMAFIA beef prepared on a special grill.
For this new cuisine, Hisato approached Masato Otsubo, CEO of Yuki Precision, the high precision aerospace parts manufacturer, who previously designed WAGYUMAFIA’’s bespoke LP vinyl player, to jointly design a WAGYUMAFIA’s jingisukan grill made from commercial rocket-grade metal. “It became the perfect opportunity for us to design and integrate the precision of rocket-making into our cookware,” Hisato explains. Working closely with the Yuki Precision team from nearly 40 metal variations, they created a specially designed pan for this latest restaurant concept, optimised to cook each ingredient with precise evenness.
Part way through the YAKINIKUMAFIA FOR MEMBERS ONLY floor space is a roll-up garage door concealing the floor’s ‘hidden’ element, YAKINIKU HORUMON OLYMPIC: a 10 seat semi-private teppan designed to emulate Osaka’s famous street-food style. With a strong Showa style aesthetic, it is a retro-chic space creating an atmosphere that is as visually appealing, as it is discreet. The name comes from the Kansai dialect term hōrumon, which means “discarded goods”, as the menu specialises in wagyu offal.
Finally on the lower ground floor (B1) is THE HIGHBALLS: an exclusive, invite-only bar and dining room. Once inside, this 8 seat space is something of an oasis for lovers of vintage-style and aged whisky, boasting approximately 1000 bottles of Hisato’s personal collection of Japanese and Scotch whiskies dating from the 1940’s to the 1990’s.
While Tokyo has no shortage of fascinating whisky bars, the definitive drink here is of course the “highball”, a drink Hisato has taken to the extreme. After visiting the historic Suzuki Morihisa Studio in Morioka, he learned how the nambu tekki, a ceremonial cast iron kettle, releases its elemental qualities as the liquid heats, producing a soft, mineral rich water used in the highballs. The detail in the whole process is akin to the traditional tea ceremony, with the drink finally served in 100-year old Baccarat crystal glasses collected from Paris, London and Kyoto. The drink is finished with ice created from spring water from Mount Fuji, dubbed by Hisato as ‘ninja’ ice due to its extreme purity and transparency.
As members will quickly recognize, there is a more relaxed ambiance in The HIGHBALLS: a space where they can savour their chosen whiskies to the mellow sounds from classic vinyl, playing from genuine 1950’s JBL speakers built with cables from the 1940’s. Another charm of this private enclave is the benefit of being able to order any of the food served within DISTRICT directly to THE HIGHBALLS bar.
“This place represents five years for us,” Hisato says. “We’ve spent that time on a crazy high-octane journey: travelling, collecting, curating, learning, developing, but mainly reinventing how people not just view and enjoy our wagyu, but celebrating just how incredible the product is.”
WAGYUMAFIA is a collective of restaurants in Tokyo and Hong Kong celebrating the qualities and versatility of Japan’s most famous beef through various dynamic concepts. The brand became a global sensation after introducing the Kobe Beef Chateaubriand Cutlet Sandwich in 2017. Working directly with the farmers and selecting only the top 1% of the finest Kobe and Ozaki beef, Chef Founder Hisato Hamada consistently tours the world championing their product through exclusive events and pop-ups. The brand has travelled to over 85 cities across 15 countries, bringing its innovative culinary experiences into a series of exciting and high profile chef collaborations, including the Onigiri for Love project with Yoshihiro Narisawa and their Kobe Beef Summit with five of the world’s most exciting chefs.
Images courtesy WAGYUMAFIA