Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on February 2008

Photos by Koji Nomura

Photos by Koji Nomura

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys thick steaks and beautiful women, Side Door is the restaurant for you. This newly opened grill in central Roppongi is staffed by gorgeous ladies at the door and behind the bar, and the kitchen serves up a fantastic sirloin that’s not to be missed.

Side Door is located in the space formerly occupied by fusion restaurant Hisio, just steps from Hotel Ibis and directly underneath sports café Lime. In other words, it’s well-positioned to welcome all Roppongi comers. On a recent Thursday night, the crowd consisted of a party of young office workers sharing wine and food, a middle-aged salaryman with his drop-dead gorgeous Western date, and a group of foreign and Japanese businessmen.

Using only bincho charcoal, Side Door’s kitchen specializes in grilled items like rack of lamb (from ¥1,260), Iwate “platinum” pork (¥2,980) and fillet of Yamagata beef (¥5,599/100g). Two prix fixe menus (¥4,500 and ¥7,500) offer a daily changing array of salad, fish and meat courses, while standouts from the à la carte menu include a thick fillet of smoked salmon with orange-marinated vegetables (¥1,890) and white-meat fish carpaccio with thinly sliced button mushrooms (¥1,730).

You’d do well to stick to the simple grilled items—and whatever you do, don’t miss the steak. Side Door’s New York aged sirloin costs ¥3,150 per 100g, and our 200g hunk of meat arrived looking more like a butt steak or tenderloin: a thick disk of boneless beef perfectly cooked medium. Unseasoned except for a dab of salt and pepper, it was one of the best steaks we’ve had in Tokyo—and, yes, that includes such heavyweights as Oak Door and Ruth’s Chris.

Photos by Koji Nomura

Photos by Koji Nomura

Like those steakhouses, Side Door offers a variety of no-frills side dishes to complement the meat. Mashed potatoes, steamed asparagus, sautéed spinach and a medley of simple steamed vegetables all cost in the ¥700-¥900 range. A deep wine list is also available, as are all the usual beers and cocktails.

Side Door’s fare is served up in an interior that’s equal parts concrete and cool. After descending the winding steps to the B1 location, diners are greeted by friendly staff ready to take their coat and get them a drink. A giant screen hanging behind the semi-circular bar suffuses the interior in an ever-changing Technicolor glow, while the main dining room features thoughtfully arranged seating areas that are suitable for romantic dinners or business parties. Customers can glimpse the open kitchen, where the chefs do their thing with sure-handed flair.

During Side Door’s opening party in November, some of our colleagues got a surprise when, on their way to the restroom, they came upon a large aquarium that held a real-life mermaid (or at least a blonde in a mermaid outfit). Though unable to locate the fish tank again on our most recent visit, we found enough magic on our plates to make up for that loss.