Do you remember the Gyutan-Don fever that mildly infected Jakarta sometime last year? It didn’t last very long; I’ve never really jumped on board; and I don’t even know whether those thinly sliced beef tongue are the real deal. One of my first thoughts eating them was, “Isn’t tongue supposed to be thicker than this?”
Fast forward to a year later, I was browsing around for places to eat at Little Tokyo, Melawai, and Daitokyo Sakaba popped out on the radar. Many bloggers have tried their Gyutan-Don, and almost all of them walk out with a smile and happy belly. Well then, a visit to Daitokyo Sakaba is apparently a must.
One look at Daitokyo Sakaba’s Gyutan-Don and I know this dish is on a league of its own. Gone are the thinly cut beef tongue I spoke about earlier. In its place are three thick Gyutan slices, cooked until golden brown on the outside with nice charred marks here and there. Big chunks of beef tongue, sprinkled with some nori on top, placed on top of a generous portion of rice—super gorgeous in its simplicity!
After a bite, it becomes even more evident that this Gyutan is no joke. The tongue is soft and buttery, it encompasses your whole mouth with this buttery feeling. It’s fatty. Creamy. Smokey. A bit on the salty side, but well-balanced by the rice. Tastes great with powdered chilli if chilli is your thing.
The dining experience at Daitokyo Sakaba is further enhanced by the dingy, dark, and mysterious atmosphere. It makes you think of one of those places in Japanese movies where heavily tattoed yakuza meet and have shady business deals. In fact, the oji-san on our left kinda looks like a retired yakuza: all alone silently devouring his food, finished with a drag of cigarette.
While the space reeks of smoke and the miso soup is just strange, Daitokyo Sakaba has special something that leaves you captivated. After entering numerous Japanese restaurants at Little Tokyo and everything starts to look the same, this eatery will be the one that leaves a lasting impression, inviting you to come back and experience its charm one more time. That, and another bowl of Gyutan-Don.
Daitokyo Sakaba Little Tokyo (Melawai)
Address: Jl. Melawai 9 No. 26
Phone: (021) 7222047