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ZENAN Teppanyaki Shinjuku, Tokyo

I lived in Tokyo from 1980 to 1987 and have been travelling back there ever since. During the time I lived there my office was in Nishi Shinjku so for many business dinners I would go to restaurants around the Shinjku area. One of my favorites was a small Teppanyaki restaurant close to the west side of Shinjuku Sta. The name of the rewstaurant was Genan and they served various courses that started with several traditional seasonal dishes followed by a fantastic steak. Genan only seated about 15 people around the teppanyaki table and a few more at small individual tables.

On my last trip to Tokyo last November I decided to try to search out Genan to see if they were still in business. By chance I found an old address book that still had the telephone number so I gave them a call and low and behold they were still in business but the name had been changed to Zenan and they had moved to a basement location about a half block away from the original location. The restaurant is still owned and operated by the same husband and wife team.

The restaurant's motto in English is "A steak and the season's good food" and other than it being even smaller and more intimate that it's previous location nothing else had changed and it is still as excellent as it was 20 yeras ago. It never ceases to amaze me that a place like this can survive for so long. Only in Japan!!

They offer a choice of several courses which vary by the number of seasonal dishes and the size of the steak. There were three of us on the evening I went and we ordered the six course set with the 250 gram steak. They also have a beer, Japanese wines and nice variety of sake and shochu. Each course was fantastic in terms of the taste, the quality of indgredients and the presentation. The steak was as good as it can get. They use only the highest quality beef and it is served with sauteed Shitake mushrooms and several dipping sauces. Of course, each person's steak is cooked perfectly to order. There is a choices of oshokuji after the steak include rice and miso soup, ochasuke and the night we were there a type of rice soup with turtle. Dessert and coffee are served in a separate room that reminds me of a dining room in an old hunting lodge. The price was 15,000 yen person excluding drinks. Certainly not cheap but worth every single yen.

I would highly recommend Zenan to anyone looking for a small, intimate restaurant serving only the highest quality Japanese food with excellent service. Zenan is less than a 10 minute walk from the west exit of Shinjuku Sta. It is located in the basement on a small side street. The telephone number is 03-3365-0383. I strongly suggest making a reservation because they can only seat about 10 people at the Teppanyaki table. English is not spoken but the menu is easy because all you have to do is choose which course you would like.

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  1. Good stuff. Here`s the Tabelog link that has the requisite Google Map embedded- http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1304/A130... .

    10 Replies
    1. re: Silverjay

      Hi: Thanks for the link. This will make it a lot easier to find. I hope many other people will give it a try because it is really an excellent little place and quite unique.

      1. re: RoyRon

        This was a great overall experience. It is a small operation and everything is done with love, and with attention to detail. The steak was the highlight and was the most well prepared teppanyaki that I have ever had. It was seared on top and botteom... then sliced and seared on the sides... then cut into cubes and the remaining surfaces cooked, but allowing the internal areas to be a bright pink, as per my requested medium rare. I would normally order my steak rare, but considering the high fat content of this Japanese beef, the medium rare was perfect for me. My girlfriend had a really nice glass of umeshu on the rocks, and the after dinner earl grey ta in a western style teacup was a nice finish in a lovely and relaxing room. It was a perfect balance of eastern food with some western touches. The steak sandwich prepared with the fattiest parts of he meat along with dijon mustard and roasted garlic chips surpassed any western version that I have experienced. This is the kid of restaurant that quietly does it's duty and manages to be perfect in certain aspects of the overall experience.... but the kind of restaurant that you never read about in reviews. The only similar experience I had in Tokyo this trip was at a little basement shop with a loyal local following that had a large selection of amazing sake, beautiful large and old style incandescent light bulbs, an atmosphere beyond words, and the most impeccably fresh fish in a wooden bucket on ice. My oily fish was prepared as sashimi, nigiri sushi (with a tiny slice of lime on top), and grilled with salt... served with soy sauce and grated radish on the side. The waiter took such satisfaction from knowing that he pleased us with his sake recommendations. Everything was completely in Japanese`without any english script on the sign or menu. I found it by luck... it being the most atmospheric place of this trip. Zenan comes in second in this regard, but really is noted for serving high end food. It should be noted that Zenan is quite expensive, but well worth it considering what you get in terms of quality of ingredients, preparation, service, and atmosphere. Are there any more places of this sort? I endured a few "mistakes" in Tokyo, and it's a shame considering how many amazing eateries are on offer. I will try to come up with the the name of my grilled fish izakaya... it's near Shinjuku station near southeast exit. I suspect there are countless restaurant of this nature that we are unaware of.... referred only to a few popular places that are reviewed, and bombarded by low quality tourist food garbage. Anyway, further input discussion is welcome.

        1. re: chrisdds

          I am so happy to hear that you found and tried Zenan. I love that place and always recommend it anyone who is going to be in Tokyo and loves exceptional Japanese food as you said, "prepared with love". It is a bit intimidating if you don't speak Japanese but the owners are very patient and polite and will always help you. I am going to be Tokyo again next week and you can bet that I will go to Zenan again.

          1. re: RoyRon

            What is the price for dinner for per person? This looks to be close to my hotel in a couple weeks.

            1. re: miltronix

              They had three different set menu options. The most expensive one, as mentioned by RoyRon is 150,000 yen and includes a heavy 250 gram steak and a few small dishes (I think 4 dishes). I chose this set..

              The other two sets have a 150g steak and either 6 or 10 small dishes. I don't remember the exact cost, but I think it was something like 90,000 and 110,000 yen respectively. My girl had one of these sets, and it was enough meat for her (though she is rather small).

              I went to Kobe later on this same trip, and while the famous Kobe beef was amazing, I still most fondly remember my experience at Zenan. The cooking technique was just so good there.

              1. re: chrisdds

                I know somebody said this place was expensive, but those prices are a bit too much, even for me.

                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                  Surely those prices can't be correct?

                  1. re: kersizm

                    I'm sorry, my prices were incorrect by one order of magnitude!

                    It's actually 15,000 yen for the 250 gram steak with four (if I recall correctly) small appetizers / side dishes, just as was quoted by RoyRon. I am sure of this number. It was really a good amount of meat, especially considering the high fat content.

                    The 150g steak with 10 side dishes was either 11,000 or 9,000 yen. And the 150g steak with 6 side dishes was either 7,000 or 9,000 yen. I don't remember.

                    I was going to say you guys were such wusses for not being willing to spend this much for such a quality meal. But I then realized I added the extra zero to the prices. In Thailand they sometimes like to add an extra zero to the prices to tourists that just arrive and still have no concept of the currency's value. Anyway, sorry for the error.

                    1. re: chrisdds

                      My eyeballs almost popped when I saw 150,000 yen...

          2. re: chrisdds

            Hi thanks for sharing. I'd be interested to hear a bit more about your "mistakes" in Tokyo! My first trip is coming up in a couple months and I only have a few days in Tokyo,....don't want any "mistakes"!

      2. What a wonderful little place. Had a fantastic dinner on a quiet Saturday night, myself and a family of "foodies" (a mother and her adult son & daughter) from Singapore at the teppanyaki table. We laughed, we ate, we discussed food in Tokyo and NYC. Very kind and interesting owner/chef who was a master with all.
        Not so hard to find if you use the map, actually a ten minute walk from Shinjuku station very near to the Prince Hotel. They had a menu handwritten in English-so it was easy to choose. My tablemates chose a 10 course seasonal menu, which ended in a steak that they all three shared, I went for the "Steak set" which gave me 6 courses but a much larger steak all for myself. They were jealous after dinner-its definitely the way to go.
        The seasonal dishes were exquisite, baby bamboo, red snapper sushi, sea cucumber, cooked buri and after the exquisite steak-turtle rice soup. Strawberry season is in high swing in Tokyo, and dessert was a grainy yet delicious home made Strawberry Sorbet.
        The steak looked like a piece of marble, and as he put it on the grill he seasoned it simply with only salt and pepper. Nothing else. He trims off the fat-i almost impulsively told him "I want the fat!", But since he just moved it to the side of the grill, i let him continue on with the steak. Good thing I did. The steak is served on a piece of "fried bread", just beautiful, delicious with two styles of sauce on the side. I was afraid to eat the bread-but it looked so good with all of the steak juices on it! After completing the steak, he took the bread from my plate and proceeded to make an unbelievable little sandwich. Remember the fat and trimmings? He expertly chopped them up on the teppanyaki and rendered out all of the fat to create a small pile of gribins....he then put that on one half of the bread, spread some coarse mustard on the bread and smashed up some deep fried garlic chips he gives you on the side of the steak, and grilled this little packet of love to a crispy brown. Cut in half the sandwich was delivered back-it was probably the single best item of the night.
        Didn't think I'd have room for the turtle soup, but I licked the bowl clean.
        Really great place, thanks for the recommendation.