With successful restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Waikiki, Hong Kong, Seoul and Taipei—among others—it was only a matter of time before BLT Steak arrived in Japan.
On September 19, the classic steakhouse opened its first Japanese branch right on top of Roppongi-itchome station, replacing a former club in Izumi Garden Tower. The location benefits from high, airy ceilings on its main floor and a cozy, chestnut-colored upper level reconfigured from the old VIP lounge. Smoking is allowed only upstairs and on the narrow garden terrace, though some exceptions are made for the expansive private rooms at the back.
Dining kicks off with a crimson chicken-liver mousse in port wine sauce—creamy with just a touch of tartness. Apparently aware that its role is not to distract, the mousse only whets the appetite for the real eye-openers: the popovers. The staple bottomless bread of every BLT Steak location, these resemble nothing more than softball-sized meteorites, and arrive at the table with a silver tower of salt and a small vat of creamy butter. Crisp on the outside with a soft, cruller-like interior, each serving is accompanied by a tag outlining how to make a dozen of your own at home (stock up on 2¼ cups of Gruyère!).
The menu proper is pricey, but not prohibitively so: salads and appetizers range from ¥1,200 for double-cut smoked bacon to ¥3,800 for a lobster Cobb salad. The crab cake (¥2,400) is touched with piquant meyer lemon and crowned with a tiny, mild radish salad, while the tuna tartare (¥2,200) is nothing less than Ultimate Sashimi. Arriving on a bed of avocado complemented with soy-lime dressing, this cube of tuna melts at the touch of the tongue, then finishes with a satisfying crunch of crispy shallots and endives.
Sides range from onion rings and creamy mashed potatoes (¥1,200 each) to crispy grilled asparagus (¥1,400). Mains start at lemon rosemary chicken or prime hanger steak for ¥3,800, going all the way to a 750g, 28-day-dried porterhouse steak for two (¥14,000).
Cooked in salt and pepper and served in a heavy iron pan, the impressive porterhouse arrives topped with herb garlic butter and a full bulb of garlic on the side. The 28 days not only reduces moisture but also allows the marbling to be absorbed into the steak’s muscle tissue, resulting in more intense flavor and superior texture. Indeed, every bite so sufficiently suffuses the taste buds that the nine sauce options—including peppercorn, red wine, béarnaise and blue cheese—are entirely superfluous.
The ¥1,100 dessert menu offers such selections as apple cobbler, crêpe soufflé and lychee panna cotta. But BLT Steak’s signature finisher is a peanut butter chocolate mousse with banana ice cream. It doesn’t so much melt in your mouth as evaporate right up to the top of your throat, then gliding straight down to greet your stomach.
If you’re prepared for the price, the only disadvantage to BLT Steak Tokyo is its location: hidden beside the entrance to Hotel Villa Fontaine, you have to take an obscure secondary elevator to get there. But once you find it, dig in!