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Standing steakhouse Ikinari Steak is 'appealing to human instinct'

We're not meant to sit for two hours and pay triple digits for steak, says founder Kunio Ichinose.


New York’s newest steakhouse is standing room only — even before it opens.

Japan’s hugely popular fast-casual chain Ikinari Steak, which has no chairs, appetizers or desserts, has opened at 90 10th St. in Astor Place. The straightforward menu consists of three cuts of steak sold by the gram (8 cents for sirloin, 9 cents for ribeye, 11 cents for filet) and four sides: beef soup, green salad, Japanese radish salad, rice (all $2) and garlic pepper rice ($6).

Simply put, “I’m appealing to human instinct,” says owner Kunio Ichinose, who started the chain in December 2013 after spending 44 years in Japanese steakhouses. Ikinari now has over 100 locations. “When people are hungry, they want a thick steak,” he explains about the no-frills menu. And they want it fast — you’re meant to get in and out in 30 minutes — without paying too much.

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And while the lack of chairs — there are actually 10 tucked behind the service area, but the main room consists of tall tables for four and counters — makes for a good headline, the novelty is not why Ikinari is sure to command lines around the block.

Nothing about the model was changed for Ikinari’s first New York location. Drinks (wine, Sapporo beer, Coke and oolong tea are your options) and sides are ordered from waiters; for the steak, step up to a butcher counter, where the meat (wet aged for 40 days) is cut and weighed for your approval. The meat is flame grilled, and arrives sizzling on a cast-iron pan with corn and onions.

Ikinari’s prices work out to about $20 for a 7-ounce filet, and while it won’t replace your annual Father’s Day trip to Keans, on our visit the filet and sirloin were both moist and delicious even before the addition of any sauces. Go for the Ikinari sauce, a slightly sweet take on A1 that may just become your new favorite condiment, or their signature soy sauce-based J-Steak.

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