An owner and a chef, both floored by their studies under Japan’s premier aged beef specialist, have joined forces to present Aurochs, transporting guests to another time in the historic Shikemichi district of Nagoya and deeply satisfying them with the sumptuous flavors of aged beef. Even for the aged beef uninitiated, dining here affords guests a deep understanding of different varieties and stories of the wonderful places and farmers that raise them.
Aurochs was a wild cattle variety that once roamed the earth – the ancestor of today’s livestock cattle. And the historical links continue in the restaurant’s superb location. Nagoya’s Shikemichi heritage district in Nagono is halfway between the resplendent Nagoya Castle and the modern Nagoya Station. It feels like a trip back in time as you wander past the white stucco walls contrasting with stone foundations, tiled rooves, and dark wooden trims, exploring the shops and restaurants interspersed between homes where people still live today. The district’s name translates literally as “Street of Four Measures”, so named because after a fire destroyed the district in the 1700s, the feudal lord ordered that buildings have a distance of four measures (about 7 meters) between them, as well as mud-plastered walls instead of wooden ones, all in the name of fire prevention.
Aurochs was opened in 2021 by Taro Yamaguchi after an experience that left him overwhelmed by the flavors of aged beef prepared by the specialist Yoshinobu Niiho, owner of Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture-based Sakaeya. Already an owner of Italian and yakiniku restaurants in Nagoya, Yamaguchi met the aged beef pioneer and vowed to open a counter restaurant to showcase his beef as steak. So he sent staff from his restaurant group to learn from Sakaeya all about aging, preservation, and the best preparations. Together, they put those tenets into practice, pushing the limits to show beef’s potential through aging and proper treatment.
Enjoy the real aged beef
Aurochs’ head chef is Junko Fujita, whose background includes research into serotonin and other “happy hormones”. Her encounter with Sakaeya’s Niiho opened her eyes to the wonder and deliciousness of aged meats. She realized that the only way to share with others just how tasty that aged beef is she needed to work at a restaurant that serves it.
The chef’s degustation starts with consommé, followed by several dishes, including steak tartare – incredible Omigyu fresh beef served with capers, eschalots, olive oil, and salt. Next is a spring roll containing cow innards –the large and small intestine – seasoned with cabbage and garlic chives and wrapped in a thin wrapper before being fried to crisp perfection. The hot filling flows out the moment you sink your teeth into this irresistible dish.
The climax of the course is a comparative and generous tasting of three steaks that differ by region, years in breeding, and aging period. Aged beef comes in many forms, each with unique flavor profiles, so the Aurochs style is about breaking it down in front of guests and sharing stories of the region it comes from. Once the steak is cut and ready, it is cooked over Choshu Binchotan – a type of charcoal interspersed with ceramic to strengthen the level of far infrared radiation, which enables the chef to cook steak with a crisp surface but juicy middle. Lovingly cooked for 40-50 minutes in waves, cooked on high and rested, on low and rested, the chef seals in the juices to showcase the beef’s rich umami. All steaks are gently infused with charcoal flavor, yet each has unique umami and texture. The steaks are served with the simplest of seasonings - salt and wasabi – so guests can appreciate the full power of beef umami and the different flavors and textures of each style.
Next, the piping hot, glossy clay pot-cooked white rice is accompanied by some delectable dish that makes you keep coming back for more. One fine example is Omi-gyu sukiyaki, served with Japanese leeks, chrysanthemum greens, and other seasonal vegetables in a small clay pot with the distinctive sweet-salty flavors of one of Japan’s most famous traditional dishes. Finally, the course closes with a seasonal dessert.
The star is aged beef from Sakaeya, and it is all about maximizing umami, which the master Niiho achieves by altering techniques to suit the unique characteristics of each animal. Hokkaido free-range cattle have a distinctive wild flavor and subtle aroma of pasture, for example, the product of being raised in an all-natural environment. The animal is broken down into parts before aging in ways that accentuate wonderful beef aromas and textures. In addition to the Hokkaido beef, Aurochs takes delivery of aged sirloin from Kagoshima cows, fillet, and Omi-gyu fresh and aged beef. Even after delivery, the meat is aged further in a special refrigerator until it reaches its peak. Cook time and doneness are then adjusted slightly to highlight the variations in flavor. These delicious ingredients are complemented by a range of Japanese sake, shochu, whisky, and wine, chosen for their affinity with the cuisine.
Aged beef arrives at the restaurant bone-in and is stored in a specialized aging refrigerator set to 90% humidity and zero degrees for one to one-and-a-half months. Deep knowledge and experience allow the team to ascertain the perfect timing for the different types and cuts of beef. The three varieties served in the course change daily, and rest assured, they are always the best three that day. The meat is cut away from the bone immediately before serving to showcase the fantastic produce and titillate guests’ appetites. All unnecessary parts are cut away, leaving only the tastiest portions to cook. That’s the secret to the delicious flavors at Aurochs.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000