A Japanese restaurant focused on thick-cut steaks and standing dining has expanded to New York City with its first U.S. location, which opened in February.
Ikinari Steak was born out of founder Kunio Ichinose’s idea to make high-quality, thick-cut steaks more affordable for diners. The seats are eliminated for higher customer turnover, and the restaurant does not serve desserts for the same reason. “Steak tastes the best when it is thick and when you are hungry,” Ichinose says, adding that the word ikinari translates to “suddenly” in English.
At the restaurant, guests stand at counters where they can order drinks and side dishes before going to a chef’s butcher station to order from a menu of three steak cuts: ribeye, sirloin, or filet. There is no amuse-bouche or “fancy appetizers,” Ichinose says.
Depending on the cut, the minimum order is 7.1 ounces to 10.6 ounces, and all steaks are cut to order and weighed in front of the guests. The steaks are cooked on an open fire, served with a daily vegetable, and presented sizzling on a cast-iron platter with a soy-based Japanese steak sauce. The beef comes from Aurora Angus Beef in Illinois and is wet-aged for at least 40 days. At lunch, a set meal of a 10.6-ounce chuck eye steak with salad, soup, and rice would cost a diner $20.
Ikinari opened in Tokyo in 2013 and has since spread to more than 100 locations throughout Japan. At the New York City location, Ikinari has 40 standing stations and 10 table seats, along with a small backyard that is used as a waiting area during the warmer months. The restaurant also offers a loyalty program through its “beef mileage card,” which allows regulars to track how many pounds of steak they’ve eaten.