Every now and again, we have to stop and remind ourselves that Starbucks’ full name is Starbucks Coffee Company, since it’s not always a craving for a cup of coffee that brings us through their doors. Especially in Japan, we’re as likely to be ordering a roasted sweet potato Frappuccino or sakura donut when we stop by the nominal coffeehouse chain.
On our last visit, we mixed things up even more by skipping both coffee and sweets and instead ordering a special Starbucks Japan menu item that’s only offered at seven locations in Tokyo: beef lasagna.
We got ours at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood, and as you might expect from its rarity, the beef lasagna isn’t exactly cheap, costing 1,012 yen. Thankfully, the portion is sized as a meal, not as a snack, and 1,000 yen or so isn’t a bad price for a cafe lunch in Japan, provided the quality is there. The Starbucks lasagna also comes with three pieces of focaccia, and as we know from our trip to their other Reserve Roastery in Naka-Meguro, they know a thing or two about baking great bread.
At the Ginza branch, the lasagna can be ordered on the second floor, and we decided to ask the staff for a recommended drink pairing as well. To our surprise, they suggested not coffee, but Japanese tea, specifically kabuse genmaicha, a kind of roasted brown rice green tea, so we added a pot for 770 yen.
We took our first bite of the piping hot lasagna, and immediately any of our concerns about the price melted like the rich, creamy mozzarella cheese. The oven-baked pasta dish’s bolognaise and bechamel white sauce combined to make everything extremely flavorful, but without any unpleasant oiliness. It’s not just delicious by coffeehouse food standards, either. We’d be extremely satisfied with lasagna this good in dedicated pasta restaurants.
Turning our attention to our green tea, we were pleasantly surprised at how well the Western and Japanese flavors of our meal complemented each other. There’s a touch of saltiness that lingers at the end of the lasagna’s flavor profile, but the genmaicha was a perfect palate cleanser, with each sip’s clean finish having us ready for another bite of lasagna…or focaccia, as the bread was excellent too.
▼ The staff even gave us a doggy bag so we could take our leftover bread home with us.
In addition to the Ginza Roastery, Starbucks Japan’s beef lasagna is also available at its Reserve Roastery in the Nakameguro neighborhood, and also the Ikejiri 2-chome, Komazawa 1-chome, Daizawa 1-chome, Okusawa 2-chome, and Daikanyama T-Site Starbucks Coffee branches.
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