Meat, Love, Pray (for more) at Teppan Bambina
This classy yet cosy teppanyaki restaurant is our new fave date spot
[UPDATE: This restaurant has unfortunately permanently closed as of March 2018. See www.sangue.co.jp/link for other locations and restaurants from the same group.]
In the mood for melt-in-your-mouth steak (um, always?) but don’t want to break the bank? Teppan Bambina serves up affordable, A-grade wagyu and organic wine in a gorgeously romantic environment — perfect for a date between you and a plate of delicious meat.
While we all know that there’s no shortage of restaurants in Tokyo (the city has one of the highest restaurant per person ratios in the world), it can sometimes be difficult to find that perfect date spot. You know, the one with the low-lit, sleek but softly furnished interior. That place where it’s not too loud or smoke-filled, and where the menu is delicious enough to impress but affordable enough to avoid gulping when the bill arrives.
Teppan Bambina & Wine by Ushigoro — with it’s classy yet oh-so-cosy atmosphere and surprisingly reasonable wagyu-based menu — is exactly that; a gorgeous little spot to take your favorite person (or people) to, even if she just happens to be yourself.
Tucked away on the second floor of a corner building in upscale Azabu-juban, Teppan Bambina offers a well-curated teppanyaki menu of select ingredients cooked by a gregarious chef right in the middle of the restaurant for diners to watch, all while sipping on an exclusive range of wines or cocktails for only ¥500 a glass.
But it’s the food that really takes center stage here. On our visit, my date (co-worker/friend/wingwoman) and I opted for the mid-range course menu which, for ¥5,000, gets you seven dishes prepared on the restaurant’s (iron plate) plus a choice of three housemade desserts.
As we settled into our front-row seats at the counter, the course menu got underway with the three tapas and fresh carpaccio of the day.
Each of the tapas dishes can be ordered a la carte for ¥500 each — the same price as our generous glasses of organic Portuguese wine — while the carpaccio costs just ¥1,000.
After another glass of wine (don’t judge) it was time for the main act: the premium, A5-grade wagyu. The chef prepared the three kinds of cuts: tenderloin, rump, and sirloin, which was a complete conversation killer since we just spent the next ten minutes grunting appreciatively. Then he presented us with a freshly-prepared salted hamburg steak, packed with flavor and surprisingly light, though if you’re not a fan of hamburg you can opt for the sukiyaki instead.
We also ordered tongue, tender and slightly sweet, and the ah-mazing “Queen of Steaks”, Chateaubriand, because, well, why not? (And also, wine).
Each course menu (¥4,000, ¥5,000 and ¥7,000) includes a choice of garlic butter rice, wagyu curry, or spaghetti napolitano prepared teppan-style. The two more expensive menus also come with three types of dessert — coffee pudding, house pudding or sorbet, which, despite that fact they we were completely stuffed, disappeared in less time than it takes to sear a steak to perfection (get it?!).
Since 2012, the Ushigoro brand have launched restaurants in Ebisu, Nakameguro, Gotanda, Shimbashi, Ginza, as well as a recent Shibuya branch (which comes with a standing bar on the ground floor), quickly becoming every in-the-know Tokyoites’ favorite joint for classy yakiniku and wine. Teppan Bambina is their first foray onto the teppanyaki scene but judging by the quiet flow of diners arriving to the restaurant during our meal, it’s likely that this won’t be their last.
“We get about 40 international customers per month but we’d really like to see more come to enjoy our unique Japanese teppanyaki,” said Hiroyoshi Yamamoto, the restaurant’s manager, chatting to us on the cosy outdoor terrace which would be perfect for a private party (and also comes with a rather beautiful view of Roppongi Hills sparkling in the background.)
It seems Teppan Bambina is suggesting a second date. Our answer? Definitely.
Address: 2F Manivia Azabujuban, 2-5-1 Azabujuban Minato-ku Tokyo. 3-minutes walk from Azabu Juban station, Exit 7
Business Hours: Mon – Fri 17:00-24:00 (L.O. 23:00) Sat, Sun, Hol 12:00-15:00 (L.O.14:00), 16:00-23:00 (L.O.22:30）