RESTAURANT REVIEW

Alexander’s Steakhouse: Brace yourself for extra fancy steakhouse experience

A sampling of the steaks at Alexander's Photos by Maki Yasuda

TOKYO —

“This isn’t your usual creamed spinach kind of steakhouse,” Executive Chef James Brownsmith said to me, as I gazed at the “hirame” sashimi and white beet appetizer that he’d just brought over from the kitchen. Like a perfect little Chanel camelia surrounded by edible weeds and violets and set atop a great white bubble of a plate, it looked more fancy French than something you’d expect at a steakhouse.

Alexander’s Steakhouse, which just opened in November last year, is indeed different from the other American steakhouses that have made their way over to Tokyo in recent times. Describing itself as “a fine dining interpretation of the classic American steakhouse,” it’s certainly the swankiest of the lot. While places like BLT and Wolfgang’s are in the traditional camp for cuisine and have roots in New York City, Alexander’s hails from Cupertino, California, home to Apple Inc and the wealthy techies of Silicon Valley. A one-time holder of a Michelin star, Alexander’s Steakhouse is known for its sophisticated menu influenced by Japanese fusion, a wine list featuring top-dollar Napa wines, and uber high quality wagyu beef (according to an internet source, its LA location used to have the most expensive steak in the city, a dry aged tomahawk for $315).

The physicality of the new Tokyo restaurant perfectly suits the ritzy image of the Alexander’s restaurant chain (they have several locations in California, and the first of its Asian locations just opened in Taipei last year). Located on the 42nd floor of the Shiodome Center Building, you get incredible panoramic views of the city stretching before you as far as the eyes can see (one online review that I came across gushed how the view alone was worth at least 5,000 yen). There are gorgeous private dining rooms - three on the Skytree side and two on the Tokyo Tower side - that I can highly recommend for business dinners and the like. There’s also an attractive bar area, for which they are currently devising a bar program (think happy hour and good deals for luxe bar food).

Another impressive feature is the amazing wine cellar, a floor to ceiling glass-walled spectacle that you encounter at the entrance, which holds over 800 kinds of wine and 2,000 bottles. If you are a lover of high-end California wines, it would be hard to contain your excitement when viewing their list. There are some familiar favorites that are more affordable, great upper mid to high range wineries like Silver Oak, Kistler, and Kosta Browne, and it goes all the way up to cult wines like Harlan Estate, Scarecrow, and Screaming Eagle. These names are just a tiny sample from a truly extensive and entertaining list that reads like Wine Spectator magazine (you can go ahead and check it out in advance; the whole list is on their website).

The food menu is speckled with luxurious ingredients such as “truffles” and “foie gras,” as well as sophisticated sounding Japanese like “karasumi,” “matcha” and “yuzu.” A signature bite-size starter served at all of their locations is the “uni” toast, a small buttery brioche toast topped with smoked oxtail and “uni, which I quite liked. Next came the snow scallops as well as dry-aged Kyoto duck, which, like the “hirame” starter, leans very much toward fancy French. (If you’re ordering a la carte, I must say that these don’t work too well for sharing. It’s no fun getting just a bite from such a beautifully put together composition, or trying to share decorative smears of sauce).

The highlight of the menu is of course the extensive selections of beef. Here is where Alexander’s really shines, with the top-notch quality beef and careful cooking, setting it apart from the other steakhouses (which mostly flash-cook their steaks at extreme temperatures). There’s American beef, such as the Greater Omaha Tomahawk steak that serves 3~4 people (24,000 yen). There’s also a 10oz New York Strip steak at 6,800 yen, the most affordable cut on the menu. Then there’s several U.S. dry-aged beef selections, which are all flown in from the U.S. and aged on the premises.

Last but not least, there’s a selection of privately farmed wagyu that can be ordered at 3 oz increments (starting at 7,500 yen). These precious cuts come from farms all around Japan that are super-boutique, meaning they produce only 20 or 30 cows per year or less. The recommendation is to order small portions of several kinds for the table and share. For this, I say by all means go for it if you’re really into steak and would like to experience the difference in flavor and texture of various beef. Among the three kinds that I had, the Matsuzaka Wagyu from Ocean Farm in Mie Prefecture was outstanding. The side of “shichimi” fries with truffled egg hollandaise - which sounds a bit more complicated than it actually tastes - was also good.

After dinner, Chef Brownsmith showed me the dry-aging rooms by the kitchen; giant steel refrigerators with shelves full of aging beef. Once the door was opened, there was a blast of pungent yeasty smell reminiscent of cheese. The chef told me that dry-aging rooms develop their own distinct flora unique to the location over the course of time, and the Tokyo rooms were coming along magnificently. Compared to the aging rooms in Taiwan that produced a pungent aroma almost like blue cheese, the rooms in Tokyo were developing an aroma like Pecorino, giving the meat a more gentle characteristic. I bet beef connoisseurs just love this kind of technical detail about the meat, making it a major reason to visit Alexander’s.  And if you’re a beef connoisseur as well as a Californian wine enthusiast? Well, what are you waiting for.

Dinner Course

Study of Beef: 14,151 yen
Apex Menu: 29,030 yen

Alexander’s Family Style: 12,000 yen
(From 6 people, 90 minutes, drinks free flow included )

All prices tax inclusive. See website or call for more details.

Alexander’s Steakhouse
Shiodome City Center 42F, 1-5-2 Higashi Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-6264-5151 or email alexanders@alexanderssteakhouse.jp

Hours
Lunch
11:30 ~ 15:30 (LO 14:00)

Dinner
Weekdays 17:30 ~ 23:30 (LO 22:00)
Closed on days immediately before national holidays and on Sundays immediately before national holidays.

Japan Today

1 Comment

  • 0

    1glenn

    There was a saying that was once popular; "It's nice to be the King." Today, it is "It's nice to be rich."

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