Located in Shinjuku is yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant called IWA and it is produced by former AKB48 (a popular Japanese female idol group) member, Mayumi Uchida.
Mayumi Uchida, during her time at AKB48, was a vibrant performer who was known for being the first member to win the AKB48 rock-paper-scissors tournament (Janken Taika) which gives the winner the opportunity to become the main/center lead performer for a single track.
And as Mayumi had wanted to open and manage her own yakiniku restaurant, she gets it in the family as her parents manage a yakiniku restaurant in the Hachiouji area. And she has been managing the restaurant since 2014.
I went to the restaurant right at the door at the opening (at 5 p.m. to midnight) of the restaurant and was the first customer inside. While Mayumi was not there and performing at a play in Ikebukuro, the restaurant is operated by a family member and throughout the interior are Mayumi Uchida’s costumes and memorabilia, plus many photos of members of the AKB48G (a culmination of groups which include AKB48, SKE48, NMB48, HKT48, Team 8, etc.) and other celebrities.
While the big screen would play music videos featuring Mayumi Uchida and her time with AKB48 (please note: While I have a video up on YouTube from my visit to the restaurant, unfortunately due to the music in the video’s background, it’ll only work in Japan).
It’s important to mention that because this is a niche-based restaurant, prices will be slightly higher and you will more than likely go through your meal quickly. So, if you intend to come with friends, definitely be prepared to spend anywhere between Y1000-Y5000 (depending on how hungry you are).
I went for the kalbi beef (marinated beef) and a lemon ice for desert.
The kalbi beef takes about ten minutes or so to prepare after ordering it and it was delicious but I definitely went through it quickly.
For the most part, the experience at IWA is what I expected, which was definitely similar to AKB48 Cafe in terms of atmosphere but with the food primarily revolving around meat dishes.
And for fans of AKB48, especially fans of Mayumi Uchida, the restaurant is worth checking out!