The grilled meat renaissance in Tokyo is being led by Craig White. With grills like Yokohama’s Baird’s Bashamichi Taproom, the Wakanui in Higashi Azabu and constant openings of premium burger joints, meat lovers have reason to celebrate—and White Smoke may just be the altar to which we niku-tarians pray.
To find the restaurant, point your proboscis downhill from Azabu Tsutaya and you’ll pick up the scent. The menu is short and simple, with the stellar choice the Lone Star Beef Brisket (¥3,500 L/¥1,700 S). The cow’s breast meat is smoked for up to 15 hours in the custom-designed pit. Sealed with a pepper-and-salt rub during cooking, the crust holds in the fatty juices and breaks down the collagen to produce a cut that must be tasted to be believed.
If you are carrying your A-game with your carnivorous A-type personality, try the Big-D Dinosaur Ribs. Not your pantywaist little pork ribs slathered in a too-sweet sauce, these are grade-A beef short ribs reminiscent of The Flintstone’s Fido served up. Again, no sauce (Craig serves his dry, simply spiced sauce on the side—though like all good foodies, he will ask you to try before you douse it on).
The ribs bring out one’s primal nature, and we (well, I… ) have hew them in my fists and tear the tender meat from the bone with my teeth. Shredded pieces will get stuck in your pearly whites, but for those craving caveman-style viands in a country of generally over- or under-cooked strips of sad sirloin or yakiniku, it is a satisfying experience.
Other options are the smoked cheeseburger (¥1,900), plus other meats given the low, slow treatment in White’s smoker: “ham style” belly roll (¥1,600) and smoked chicken and turkey breast (each from ¥1,500). The turkey breast was served with greens, sliced pickles and onions and a slightly sweet sauce I could have done without—the turkey’s natural flavor comes out smoky good when cooked in this traditional Texas style.
The drinks menu is equally bold. Classic pre-prohibition cocktails like the cognac-and-orange Side Car, the whisky and vermouth Manhattan, and the old-fashioned Old Fashioned (all from ¥1,100) sit aside premium anejo tequilas like Corazon de Agave (¥1,700) and El Conde Azul (¥2,500). A selection of bottled beers such as Red Rocket Ale and Shiga Kogen Pale Ale (both ¥950) round out the libations.
If cravings haven’t yet been sated, the coup de grâce will no doubt be the pecan pie. Just like Mom used to bake—except not so cloyingly sweet and syrupy. Down a shot of espresso and call it a night. Just like real men do.
[Menu] Menu in English
[Price] About ¥5,000 per person without drinks
[Smoking] Entirely nonsmoking—the only smoke is in the pit
[Seats] Counter for a view of the pit; upstairs for groups