Coming back from a two-week trip from Japan in the Kansai (specifically Osaka) area, I wanted to record my first Kobe beef meal experience!
Of our two weeks in Osaka, amongst other day-trips to different cities, we knew that one of the cities we wanted to visit was Kobe and enjoy a world renowned food item that derived its name from the city, Kobe beef. The trip to Kobe takes about 40-50 minutes by train from Osaka (I stayed around the Namba area).
A little background info:
What is Kobe beef?
Contrary to popular/conventional belief, Kobe beef is not meat from Kobe, the city. The term 'Kobe beef' in Canada/US is a term that is promoted without adhering to the Japanese's strict standards of grading the beef, since Canada/US do not acknowledge the same trademarks.
In Japan, 'Kobe beef', is a type of wagyu (any cattle that is raised in Japan), specifically Tajima cattle, raised in the Hyogo prefecture, Japan. The Tajima cuts must pass certain yield and quality specifications such as BMS (Beef Marbling Standard), quality of fat and meat colour and brightness in order to be classified as Kobe beef.
The restaurant I went to was Bifteck Kawamura (ビフテキ), which is only a 5 minute walk away from the Kobe Sannomiya Station. Originally, we had wanted to try their other branch, Bifteck Kawamura Sannomiya Flagship Branch, but they were closed on the day we went (Monday). Thankfully, they had left a sign on their front door directing customers to another branch closeby, Bifteck Kawamura Sannomiya Branch which was only a 3 minute walk away.
According to their website, Bifteck Kawamura deals with A5 (the highest grade of wagyu) only, which was one of the main reasons we chose this restaurant while researching about which place to go to. I noticed that there were a lot of restaurants who sell different grades of Kobe, and even only wagyu. To avoid all the confusion, what better than to choose a restaurant which only serves A5 wagyu?
Caution - from here on out this will be a bit picture-heavy!
This branch was situated on the 6th floor of a building near Tokyu Hands. As soon as the elevator doors open on the 6th floor we were welcomed by a warm decor
We did not make any reservations in advance, but the restaurant did not seem to be too busy on a Monday morning. We arrived at around 11:30am and were immediately seated at a table. All the tables in the restaurant were similar to counter seats, with each chair facing the cooking station (teppanyaki style cuisine) and the chef. Each seat was nicely set up, with three different types of dipping sauces.
The restaurant is very foreigner-friendly. The staff speaks a tiny bit of English and English menus are offered. The lunch set we picked was the "Special Choice Kobe Beef Lunch Course", priced at ¥10,000 (approximately CAD $112.00 with the current exchange rates). There was a more expensive course with an award-winning cut of Kobe beef, literally best of the best, on the menu, but we opted for the Special Choice instead.
Our first appetizer was Kuroge Wagyu Aburi - lightly seared Japanese 'black hair' beef, served with a thick soy sauce and red miso, horseradish and wasabi. It was very delicious, a little chewy and fresh (very similar to Beef Tataki or Beef Carpaccio).
After, we were served a warm, rich potage soup!
Next came a green salad with a sesame mayo dressing.
As I was just about to finish the salad. The chef brought out our gorgeous, wonderfully marbled cut of Kobe beef. Look at that marbling!
For the main course, you get 100g of A5 Kobe beef prepared right in front of you, teppanyaki style, along with grilled veggies. Your chef will ask you how well-done you want your steak to be. As with all other steaks we prefer, we chose medium-rare.
When you initially order your meal, your server will also ask whether you want rice or bread to go with your meal. We chose rice (so it'll be more filling). The bread you see in the picture is part of the menu, toasted and to be used as a 'serving plate' for the beef (see pic below), which soaks up all the goodness!
Along with the A5 Kobe steak on toasted bread, the remaining grilled foods is served on top of a small aluminum sheet. On the top right corner is bean sprouts, stir-fried in the remaining beef fat leftover from the steak. Besides that is fried garlic, which our chef started off preparing first to infuse the oil with the aromatic garlic flavour. Then you have a miscellaneous selection of grilled vegetables (potato, carrot, broccoli, eggplant and onion).
Just to get this out there, Kobe beef is unlike any steak I have ever tasted. As you dive into your first bite, you are initially hit with a surprise at how soft, yet ever-so-slightly chewy, the beef is. It is a bit difficult to describe.. an amazing explosion of flavour in your mouth with a mix of, buttery goodness, tender, fresh and a strong but not overpowering beef flavour. You barely need to chew to break the meat apart and every bite is full of this wonderful explosion of flavour. It is like biting into beef-flavoured butter, but more savory and wonderful than you can imagine.
Lastly, after our bellies were full and satisfied from the fantastic main course, dessert was served. After all the rich flavours, we end the meal with a fresh apple sorbet. It was very smooth, very rich in flavour and just the right amount of sweetness that it compliments the flavour explosion that was the Kobe beef very well.
Here's to an end of a fantastic food experience. Thank you, Bifteck Kawamura, for the wonderful meal! It is definitely one to remember.
Welcome to Simple Meals! My name is Celine.