Wagyumafia — Tokyo’s famed member’s only beef club known for its spendy $180 wagyu cutlet sandwich — might not yet be ready to fully commit to the States, but founder Hisato Hamada is nonetheless hitting Chicago for three days thanks to Doug Psaltis, the chef/partner with Lettuce Entertain You. Hamada will bring Japan’s most celebrated beef, prized the world over for its richly fat-marbled flesh and buttery taste, to the city from July 12 to 14. And his Instagram-y sando is en route, too.
Psaltis and Hamada’s friendship led to the collaboration, with Psaltis utilizing his LEYE’s connections. On July 12, Hamada will prep a $250 four-course dinner at RPM Steak, and that price includes a beverage pairing of wine and rare-ish Japanese whisky—Suntory Toki and Yamazaki 12 three ways. In terms of food, expect to try the showstopper: an A5 wagyu katsu sando made with Kobe tenderloin. But Hisato also plans to serve Kobe ribeye and brisket, Sendai New York strip, Ōmi breed chuck roll and strip, and finally an even less common style of wagyu, Sanuki Wagyu. Basically, the meat comes from cows which are fed a diet of olives similar to the way ibérico pigs in Spain feast on acorns.
Those looking to try Wagyumafia at a slightly lower cost should hit up Windy City Smokeout on July 13 from 2 to 5 p.m. Hamada will head up a 20-foot long binchotan-fueled robata grill for yakiniku (Japanese grilled meat)— think $10 Kobe brisket skewers. (Note that the event also costs $50 to enter.)
Finally, on July 14 at 10 p.m., Hisato hits Sushi-san for a late-night $125 wagyu dinner. Those who missed out on RPM have an opportunity again to try Wagyumafia’s katsu sando, in addition to Hisato’s tri-color nigiri, which includes warm sushi rice supporting a skinny slice of raw wagyu topped with Hokkaido uni and a crown of caviar. He’ll also grill some yakiniku, to be served with unlimited Asahi beer. And in true Hamada style, expect off-the-cuff surprises, too.
Wagyumafia debuted in 2016 as a tiny member’s only concept in Tokyo’s Akasaka neighborhood, and has since expanded to three locations around the city, with international expansion in the works. Hamada had initially hoped to debut in San Francisco, but he has since nixed those plans in favor of New York. And soon, Chicago will get a taste of what all the talk is about.