The ultimate in wagyu beef woven through a beautifully orchestrated course of refined Japanese cuisine, to dine at Nikuya Setsugekka Nagoya is to enjoy the culmination of generations of dedication to wagyu Japanese beef.
Located in the basement of a building just steps from Nagoya's main station, Nikuya Setsugekka Nagoya was opened in June 2016 after long-awaited anticipation. The owner/chef Satoru Tanaka, referred to as “boss” by those around him, built on his success of restaurants in Gifu and Shiga with his grand opening in Nagoya, greeting gourmands from around Japan, almost half of whom hail from Tokyo.
The doors open to reveal a brilliant red ikebana display opening out onto a splendidly unique interior space. Appearing to reach out to you is a breathtaking work of Japanese plaster art known as kote-e by Zingo (real name Goro Goto), whose 300 plus works can be found in Japan and overseas. His three-dimensional wave expresses the power of nature and is so life-like it appears it could move any moment. Its mystique extends from the picture itself into a discussion Chef Tanaka loves to engage in with his guests of why a wave when this is not a sushi restaurant.
A warming whole timber plank of ginkgo timber graces the counter and there are tables and private rooms available as well. Your eyes will be drawn behind the counter to the restaurant’s certification as a purchaser of premium quality Kobe beef – proof this is the place for the ultimate in wagyu. Once the meal begins, no doubt you will be salivating over the beef creations as each new one arrives but take a moment to notice the exquisite tableware as well. Ceramics from Shimizu, Arita and Kutani-yaki kilns, many from the same kiln and same artist, including a great number of antiques. Together with seasonal ingredients, the changing tableware is an exquisite expression of the shifting of seasons in Japan.
The ultimate in wagyu beef
The cuisine at Nikuya Setsugekka has been built on the contemplation of superb pairings with sublime beef. Tanaka is incredibly skilled at incorporating bold premium beef with the delicate and refined elements that exemplify Japanese cuisine. He has made a vow never to interfere with ingredients more than required, and the minimalist cuisine highlights each of the cow’s parts in a way only possible here because of Tanaka’s deep knowledge of the animal. Pressed in kombu, salt-cured, and countless variations in knife cuts, even his miso soup contains dashi extracted from beef. Constant slight changes to the menu are accompanied by bigger menu shifts every three to four weeks.
The steak main dish is presented to guests before anything else. It is cut and the cooking begins – over the next 80 to 90 minutes the beef will go through multiple iterations of grilling over charcoals and resting. Tantalizing your taste buds as you wait in anticipation is a full course starting with Matsuzaka Beef rump that has been salt-cured overnight and rolled in slightly sweet and sour Rishiri kombu. In traditional kaiseki cuisine, this is the equivalent of the otsukuri or sashimi course.
Next, the appetizer: Matsuzaka Beef shoulder portion called haneshita, salt-cured for one week and slow-cooked, paired with Takayama Japanese Peach and premium grape varieties such as Shine Muscat. The lidded bowl dish follows with a stunning combination of Matsusaka Beef tongue, heady matsutake mushrooms from the Japanese Alps of Shinshu, and four-day-aged salt-grilled nodoguro black-throated seaperch fish. The exquisite combinations just keep coming with hanging tender beef that has been pressed in kombu, blanched and then topped with sea urchin. And then, finally, the aromas that have been teasing you all evening now arrive right below your nose: steak of Matsuzaka rump or chateaubriand served with a signature sauce of white wasabi and myoga.
Setsugekka serves beef brands that epitomize premium wagyu quality – Matsuzaka-gyu, Omi-gyu and Hida-gyu – all of which are located within an arc drawn from Aichi Prefecture. And although the A5 classification already signifies the best level, Tanaka goes further to only choose beef that is the cream of the crop, indicated by a BMS11 and above ranking. He is not satisfied to simply choose based on production area or brand and insists on examining each animal carefully before purchasing the roughly 100 head of cattle used in his restaurant each year. He always buys whole cattle and knows that his privileged place at auctions is the result of ongoing purchases of luxury beef.
Premium beef demands premium quality combinations and Tanaka’s non-beef ingredients are equally exquisite. With seasonal ingredients like truffles, caviar, and aromatic matsutake mushrooms, and seafood items such as sea urchin, Tanaka is confident that his purchases cannot even be outdone by Ginza sushi restaurants. His fastidiousness extends as far as fruit and can also be seen in his homemade dashi, which incorporates deep umami flavor from Rishiri Kombu and dried bonito from Yaizu, Shizuoka, the processes for which have been declared intangible cultural property of the town.
A magnificent wine cellar within the restaurant holds more than 100 varieties focused on reds from Bourgogne, Bordeaux, and California, but also holding wonderful selections of white and sparkling wines. It is no surprise that a restaurant that is so particular about all its ingredients – not just the beef – would have such a carefully selected and exciting wine collection. The chef has also prepared a number of sake varieties to complement the beef, including popular brands at home and overseas like Kuheiji, brewed locally in Aichi Prefecture by a 15th generation master, and Jikon from nearby Mie Prefecture.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000