Niwa BBQ is now open! Please call for reservations.
Open 7 days a week
Monday through Thursday from 4p to 10p,
Friday & Saturday from 11a to 11p
Sunday from 11a to 9p
Call (214) 741–6492 or click below to book online with OpenTable.
Reservations required for parties of 6 or more.
Call for reservations.
Please use our Contact Us form if you would like to reserve one of our private rooms.
Located in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, Niwa Japanese BBQ brings Yakiniku to town.
Yakiniku is the Japanese word for Japanese BBQ. The literal translation is Yaki=Grill , Niku=Meat. Japanese BBQ has become widely popular in Japan for casual or business meetings to all-out celebrations. Niwa Japanese BBQ focuses on the subtleties of Japanese cuisine and utilizes new technology for roaster tables. Our down-draft roasters allow for the smoke and smells typically associated with yakiniku to be taken away immediately at the table.
(214) 741- 6492
2939 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75226
Mon - Thu 4 pm to 10 pm
Fri & Sat 11 am to 11 pm
Sun 11 am to 9 pm
Use the form below to submit any inquiries or private dining reservations requests you may have. We generally respond within 24-hours. If your matter is urgent free to just give us a call at (214) 741-6492.
DMN. Rise and Shine!
Following an unusual but expected response from Leslie Brenner
Open Letter – The Epilogue
Right off the bat, or samurai sword, or chef’s knife, we’d like to thank each and every one of you who contributed to making Niwa Japanese BBQ’s, aka Leslie Brenner’s September to Remember promotion a wild, yeehawing success! For all those who visited our restaurant because of that open letter, we can’t express enough how much we enjoyed your enjoyment in our mutual enjoyment and look forward to serving you with more enjoyable deliciousness in the future.
We thank all those who supported us for standing up for what we believe in, for defending just the simplest and most fundamental notion of respect or appreciation for cultures that are not our own, and for speaking up on behalf of those who sincerely dedicate their lives and livelihoods to perfecting their craft, whatever shape or form that particular devotion might come in. Likewise, we thank y’all for sharing your thoughts and perspectives and your own stories, for your understanding and solidarity, and for making those sometimes long journeys just to deliver those messages of support in person. We appreciate it all and can’t stop smiling either.
Sure, we had a bit of trepidation that we’d be mobbed by an unruly horde of fanatic El Brenner partisans, their underage accomplices right there behind them screaming like banshees in their entitled exuberance, demanding alcohol to go along with the 50%-off appetizers that they couldn’t get enough of since someone else was paying the check, but lo and behold, crickets …
Holy cow, that would have been too much to bear.
* * *
As we reflect on the overwhelming success of Leslie Brenner’s self-inflicted promotion, we must also extend a fair apology, which is going to be difficult. Ok, here it is:
We understand that satire might not be everyone’s cup of green tea.
Additionally, some people don’t like to laugh.
About that, we are truly sorry.
In the due course of things, we have also come to understand that a few select people, as evidenced by a couple of corollary conversations and one obnoxious (her choice of word, not ours) article in another publication, don’t quite get it. Again, we would like to take full responsibility for any misunderstanding or lack of clarity. That is our fault, of course, for not illuminating everything. So, if you’d like to read on, let us reveal a bit more about the story and course of events to put the open letter into even better perspective.
* * *
So, first she published that original article.
And then a follow-up glossary of terms article.
At this point, we wrote the open letter in response.
After that, we posted the letter on our website.
Next, we went to Leslie Brenner’s Facebook page.
We did wonder what we were doing there.
We found the article on her wall.
And left our response as comment.
With a helpful link to our open letter.
To our surprise, just thirty (30) minutes later, Leslie Brenner Herself graced us with a private message.
But why a private message?
Didn’t she make a career out of publically making judgements, critiques, and pronouncements…?
But hey, at least she was finally personally reaching out, right?
“Hi Jimmy, thank you for your response.”
No, thank you, Leslie Brenner!
“As you know, that was not a review, simply a recommendation – one that I hesitated to include in the story, as the service was unprofessional and the dining room so uncomfortable.”
Whoa, that turned quickly.
Not that we didn’t expect it, truth be told.
But anyways, yes, to answer your question, the whole wide world knows that was definitely not a review. We’d argue that that wasn’t even a recommendation. As we acknowledged in our open letter, it was more like a chuuto-hanpa something of some sort.
But since you want to bring up the notion of professionalism…
Let’s entertain that idea a bit deeper through a series of uncomfortable questions:
As we alluded to in the letter, we’re still really wondering who ended up paying for that big check you racked up that night?
If you paid for it out of pocket, why hide behind an anonymous alias and proceed to make a work-related recommendation-only-not-a-full-review-which-would-take-too-much-work based on that experience of yours?
And if the Dallas Morning News paid for it, why bring along an underage accomplice and a third abettor and continue to drink the night away at a place you found to be so uncomfortable?
Unless of course, that’s how the Dallas Morning News likes its employees to conduct its professional business.
Is that standard operating procedure there?
And why would you leave that kind of job?
Sounds like you had some seriously awesome perks.
And yes, we have the receipts and other fine documentation as well.
And no, Dallas Morning News, we’re not done with you yet either.
The message continued…
“Thank you for alerting me to the two misspellings; I have send [sic] the correct spellings to my editor, who will make sure they are corrected. (I am no longer at the paper.)”
Your (selective) attention to (some) detail(s) is amazing!
Did you really interpret the crux of the letter being about the misspellings?
And then throwing your editor under the bus for his or her oversight when you proceed in the very next clause to oversee your own use of the wrong tense or verb form (send à sent)?
Don’t worry, we’re totally empathetic. Facebook. Technology. That damn spellchecker…
But come on, you gotta appreciate the cosmic irony here.
And yes, of course we knew you were no longer at the paper. Didn’t you actually read the piece? Come on, we congratulated you from the outset on your new big move. In fact, the whole letter was a goodbye dedicated just to you.
And then it came.
“While obviously you are correct about the origin of the word Wagyu and its literal meaning, it is indeed a breed of cattle known for rich marbling, so no correction there.”
Yes, thank you.
But as we explained in the open letter, no.
Your interpretation of the definition was and remains incorrect.
Moreover, the “literal” meaning, to anyone who understands the meaning of meaning, is what we would actually just traditionally call the meaning, yaknowwattamean?
Who are you to redefine a Japanese word and what it means? And, that Leslie Brenner, is why we have a beef with you.
If the myriad additional corrections we appended to the end of this letter are of any significance, we’re suggesting you stop, at your earliest convenience, pretending.
A little humility goes a long way, they say.
And really? The only response you could muster was a glib, “so no correction there”?
How nice and eloquent.
But again, we’re not here to change who you are as a person or how you engage in conversations with the people you critique from behind an alias and computer screen.
Our more pressing concern, as it has been from the outset, is that we attempt to correct misinformation.
As dog lovers, we’d like to employ the help of our furry friends to provide a bit of clarity.
Wagyu, as we explained, simply means Japanese (wa) Cow (gyu). So, imagine that there is a word that means Japanese (wa) Dog (inu). According to your logic, wainu would be a breed of Japanese dog known for whatever you’d like to literally define it being known for. But any dog lover would immediately know that that would be ridiculous. Just to name a few breeds of Japanese dogs, there are the Akita, Shiba-Inu, Shikoku Inu, Japanese Terrier, Tosa Inu, Japanese Spitz, Hokkaido, and Kishu Ken.
Not one breed, but many.
And each of them is known for many different things, aside from being of Japanese origin. (FYI: The four breeds of wagyu are Kuroge Wagyu, Akage Wagyu, Nihon Tankaku Wagyu, and Mukaku Wagyu).
So, let’s say you were a Dog Competition Judge working for an official Dog Competition Organization and said during the course of your work that Wainu (Japanese Dog) is a breed of dog that is known for…
… And then imagine if an actual Japanese dog breeder (or every single breeder) corrected you and instead of humbly admitting your mistake and thanking that expert for shedding some light on what hopefully was just a slip of the tongue in the heat of competition, so to speak, you doubled down on your original mistake, stubbornly.
And then to top it all off, you send a private message to the one dog breeder who had the temerity to state the facts, and you reply with your patent-pending, “so no correction there.”
Suffice it to say, if you were in Japan, you’d be embarrassed out of the industry and likely politely barked all the way out of the country for your clear fraudulence and embarrassingly transparent disregard and disrespect for, or just simple ignorance of, the culture even though you claim to have enough expertise in it, or judicious manner regarding it, to be rightly called a “critic”.
So, again, hopefully for the last time, no. Wagyu is not a breed of cattle known for rich marbling. Wagyu is Japanese beef, not a breed. And there are four different breeds, from various regions throughout Japan, all with varying degrees of marbling. And there are also different grades of beef, which further… but never mind. It’s clear you never really ever cared about the details …
And that wouldn’t even be the end of the story in Japan.
Guess what else would’ve happened?
Have you seen Japanese TV? It’s quite a spectacle.
The person or an acceptable representative of the company or organization who hired you would stand in front of a crowd of reporters and repeatedly bow deeply in sincere apology for your mistake. And you’d have to be right there with them, bowing just as deeply.
But hey, this ain’t Japan, we understand.
And in any event, we certainly don’t expect anything of, or need anything from, you.
Although if you ever do regain your public voice or confidence again, we’d love for you to set the record straight.
Just because we think it would make you a better person in the eyes of many.
And because we think it’ll be good for your soul.
* * *
Finally, Dallas Morning News.
We’re not here to judge your business ethics/model or even to publicly question your hiring practices.
We’re just asking that you show your true colors by dealing with this situation wisely, not only by correcting the misinformation that you’ve allowed to be printed, but also by addressing our concerns publicly. We’d ask for it to be done in a timely manner as well, but you’ve already dropped the ball on that one and it’s rolling around in the wind like wild tumbleweed. Time continues to tick and to us and many in our industry, your conspicuous silence speaks volumes.
Along these lines, we also simply ask that if you ever decide to replace Leslie Brenner with another food critic, please make sure not only that they are sufficiently qualified and thoroughly vetted (her reputation precedes her) but also that they have a real and abiding passion for food and the cultures from which they derive and possibly diverge. Food and culture are complicated things and as we’ve explained in the open letter, we’re trying to delicately balance those imperatives while also dealing with the day-to-day exigencies of running a viable business.
The last thing we need is to have to worry about a so-called “critic” who comes in with underage accomplices, doesn’t take the time to do her due diligence, doesn’t understand the food or culture she aims to write about, writes error-filled articles, responds with glib nonchalance, and is backed by a big organization that has the power and reach to really do damage to the hard work and gainful employment of many.
The same power and reach also affords you, of course, the ability to make mistakes right and we expect that you will. Reach out to us. We’re neighbors and, after all, we’re all here to humbly and hopefully make this city a tad bit better in our own little ways, right? This world is a crazy place right now with so many unnecessary distractions, so let’s work together rather than add to the noise or unwittingly bolster the forces that ultimately keep us all in the dark.
Rise and shine, Dallas Morning News. We’re awake and waiting.
Niwa Japanese BBQ
P.S. – Dear Editor, the following is a non-exhaustive list of a few other corrections we’d like to bring to your attention regarding her glossary of terms:
1. Kobe is not a prefecture. Kobe is a city in Hyogo prefecture.
2. Ponzu is not literally citrus juice. It’s a citrus-based sauce.
3. Shabu Shabu is not cooked in stock. It’s cooked in water.
4. Tamago just means egg. What she was referring to is dashimaki tamago or tamagoyaki.
5. Togarashi or shichimi often has seven (7) spices. The single spices of ground chili is called ichimi. Her description of Yoshi Shabu Shabu’s sauces as togarashi is incorrect. They’re actually made from ichimi.
6. Zuke just means pickled; what she was referring to was most likely magurozuke, which is marinated tuna.
d the good word!
Open Letter to Leslie Brenner
Kanpai and Sayonara to Leslie Brenner, Ex-Food Critic, Rest In Beef
An open letter
[Spoiler/Trigger Alert: Do not continue reading if you’re allergic to unexpected treats]
Oh, Leslie Brenner. Where should we start with you?
First of all, we’ll certainly miss you as you head off on your new endeavors and humbly congratulate you on the big move. An ex-food critic going to work on the other side of the same industry, no doubt for a considerable bump in salary. Hmm, okay. We all make certain choices in life and we fault you not for your apparent ambition.
Unfortunately, your choice of throwing shade at NIWA Japanese BBQ based on a memorable visit (for us, at least) was probably one of the “less successful” choices of your career. You must’ve forgot. We’re in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas here. With deep Samurai roots in Japan. We’d love to tell you more about it, but that would require at least a minimal amount of mutual respect from the outset. So for now, we’ll just give you a sneak peak at what they meant when they cautioned about picking your battles wisely.
As a food critic, you should be honest. Moreover, you should be able to handle that which you seek to dish out through your words. Remember, don’t throw stones…
* * *
So, let’s be honest about your visit to our house, which we warmly welcomed you into just as we do with anyone who walks through that heavy wooden door. As you’ll remember, you came in with two other guests under that creative pseudonym of yours. One of your underage accomplices proceeded to demand an alcoholic beverage. Without going into the more mundane or personal details, when we asked for a little time to do some due diligence regarding an interesting loophole in the law that we admittedly were unaware of at the time, his pushy attitude and entitled approach was, should we say, “less successful”? We’re not sure if that’s just your preferred modus operandi or if Dallas Morning News even knew about or condoned this kind of tactic or arrangement, but from our view, if you’re on the clock, perhaps you should focus on being professional. That is, focusing fully on the task at hand, without the unnecessary distractions, emotional, personal, or otherwise. In Japanese, we call that chuuto-hanpa, but as the ostensible voice on Japanese food, you’re surely aware of the concept already.
Speaking of which, let’s delve a little deeper here. You refer in your half-review of Niwa Japanese BBQ to Tokyo Yakiniku restaurants that are more ambitious or varied. We’d love to know which ones you’re talking about and how you’re measuring that vague distinction. From your apparent lack of enthusiasm and understanding of Yakiniku we guess that’s just a lazy writing technique, but we’ll entertain the notion seriously since some people apparently still take your reviews seriously. We don’t purport to know everything, but again, we do have deep roots in Japan and understand the history, culture, and even general business zeitgeist pretty well. We welcome an open, cordial, well-intentioned discussion about this or that, anytime and anyplace. We always love to learn and we’re always glad to share what we know.
* * *
Or perhaps Yakiniku just simply never was your cup of green tea to begin with? If so, please, let’s just be honest about that. There are plenty of things that every human doesn’t like or understand, and as fellow humans ourselves, we have deep respect for those who can take into honest account the vulnerability of admitting our lack of knowledge and/or idiosyncratic tastes.
* * *
So, you refer to Yakiniku as “Korean-style Japanese BBQ.” Why not just Japanese BBQ, particularly when you’re writing about all things Japanese? We love Korean BBQ as well, but there are substantive differences and anyone who loves either or both can surely make the distinction. Just a small semantic detail perhaps, but choice of words and consistency are often revealing. Do you refer to ramen as Chinese-style Japanese noodles? Tonkatsu or tempura as Portuguese-style Japanese batter-fried food? Sushi as Southeast-Asian-rooted-style Japanese raw fish? All pizza here in the States as Italian-style American pizza? Hot dogs as German-sausage-style American hot dogs? If you were a music critic, we wonder what kind of linguistic dance moves you’d pull with Gangnam style…
Please, entertain us more.
Oh wait, you did.
As your final goodbye, it seems you wanted to pay tribute once again to Tei-ichi. You seem to repeatedly know and love his food. You seem to have eaten there often. If you stay in this city, we surmise your fans will be able to find you there in the future. With all due respect and credit to Tei-ichi for what he (and you) have done, you do realize that there are other Japanese restaurants who have put a lot of time, effort, and love into their restaurants.
Time and effort.
We never sought your love, but we expected a bit more time and effort.
Holy cow, there’s more?
Shortly after that article, you posted a glossary of terms. We understand you have deadlines and word limits, but please just respect the craft of the true food critic by at least getting the fundamental things right. Wagyu is not “a breed of beef known for rich marbling of its meat.” We won’t laugh but you have to understand that it is kind of funny for those of us who do this stuff for a living. As you did consistently with other terms, the translation for wagyu is actually “Japanese cow” (wa = Japanese, gyu = cow, or by extension, beef). Technically and simply for now, there are 4 breeds. Wagyu, therefore, is not a breed. And what naturally follows from that foundation could be a really great dinner table discussion or published article that would be truly useful and educational for the interested consumer. But hey, why be accurate or get technical as a food critic when it isn’t absolutely necessary, right?
* * *
Sunumono, is spelled sunomono, tseukemono is spelled tsukemono, but we see what you did there. Since it’s a glossary, you wanted to literally gloss over all the details… Nice!
In conclusion, it’s all good. We here at Niwa Japanese BBQ are understanding folk and we certainly have no intention of holding grudges, though it is true that we have been known to specialize in having beef.
Nice! You see what we did there?
Come on, we’re just having a little fun with the puns, don’t you see? What else can we do?
You came into our house under suspicious pretenses and motives so we’re just hopping into your house to play the critic for a hot minute, tossing around witty commentary and playful underhanded jabs in return, hopefully educating some of your readers along the way about what we found to be the “less successful” bits of your half-review. And to be completely frank, we took it easy and shall henceforth leave it at that.
It’s all fair game, no? And who in Texas doesn’t appreciate a fair game?
After all, you do realize that your words, with your wide audience, can end up having a significant impact on the livelihoods of the many people who work hard every day to make a complex operation run as smoothly as possible? From what we and many others know, some of your actual reviews already have affected the lives of others so this article in question and our response to it is all but a distraction from the bigger picture. You see, we don’t really have the same deadlines or word limits here, but we do have a real business to run, employees to manage, and both new and loyal customers who we aim to satisfy each and every night. We take all legitimate criticism or concerns seriously and always hope to learn and get better. It isn’t always easy to please everyone all the time, of course, but we will always try our best.
And will you?
* * *
So with that, we here at Niwa Japanese BBQ would like to take this delicious opportunity to warmly welcome you, our new and loyal customers alike, to our house in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas, to come see for yourself what a real, non-chain, Japanese BBQ restaurant looks like. Just like in the old samurai days of a mythical Japan, all high horses should kindly be left outside on Main Street or perhaps around the corner to be guarded by the big dragon mural that adorns our eastern flank. Leave all your troubles and worries outside and come on in to enjoy the food and drinks, the interior design, the sound system, our private dining rooms, the view of downtown Dallas from our fully-stocked bar or outside patio, and the overall festive Yakiniku experience with your family, friends, or even all alone like a true samurai.
Come celebrate with us.
Come celebrate old departures, new arrivals, love, life, food, drink, words, conversations, beautiful experiences, and of course, our apps.
There’s a story behind them and they trace back to childhood memories, real childhood memories of real Japanese people who grew up to understand and appreciate certain tastes. And as with all memories, as they age, they become infused, however subtle or strong, with the tastes and inspirations of new experiences and the complex emergent memories that result from these magical interactions.
As the ones who hold these memories dear to our hearts and seek to humbly share them with you, we can promise you this:
You might not like some or all of them, and it is our recommendation that you simply avoid ordering those the next time around.
Or who knows, perhaps we’ll blow your mind on some or all of them, and it is our recommendation that you simply order as much of those as our kitchen and your bellies can handle for that night, or day, or every other time in between.
We have full confidence that you will be the best judge of your own particular preferences and tastes. Leave the rest up to us for that is why we have put our time, effort, and love into bringing Niwa Japanese BBQ to fruition in the first place.
There’s no way to know until you try and we’re confident that those who come in with an open heart and open mind will find something worth coming back for, even if it’s something that isn’t the same thing as what another person comes back for.
And finally, as a sincere thank you and festive congratulations to anyone who is determined enough to get all the way down this far on our side of the story, we’re offering an unexpected treat, Deep Ellum-style. Now through September 2017, to celebrate the other half of the poignant Japanese concept of “chuuto-hanpa,” we are enthusiastically treating you to 50% off all of our apps.
Moreover, we’re so confident that you’ll find appreciation in your hearts and bellies for them that you can call us out on any that you think can be fairly labeled as “less successful.” Just ask for the manager and tell them that you’d like to redeem your “Leslie Brenner” on any or all of those apps and we’ll gladly comp them for you.
So with that, Irasshaimase, Kanpai, and please feel free to spread the good word!
(original open letter, back by popular demand)