Kobe beef has always been one of those legendary world foodstuffs, so to actually be able to visit Kobe and then go to one of the many Wagyu restaurants on offer was a rare treat.
As in one of my previous posts regarding a Matsusaka Beef, Kobe is one of the three kinds of Wagyu commercially sold in Japan. Kobe is the worlds most well known of the beef that comes from the Wagyu cattle. Kobe beef is produced within very strict guidance, it is not allowed to be referred to as Kobe Beef outside of Japan, simply as Wagyu. Wagyu cattle can be any one of four breeds of cows that were originally cross bred native Japanese herds with several European breeds, including two British ones. The Japanese cattle Kobe Beef specifically refers to is the Tajima strain, of the Japanese Black (Kuroushi).
There are lots of other stipulations in place concerning Kobe Beef such as sanctioned slaughter houses, the beef having to have a certain level of marbling, a certain level of quality, but also only sold from those cattle bred in the Hyogo Prefecture. These stipulations are ardently observed to ensure that it holds exclusivity. Many breeders around the world have tried since the 80’s to copy the marbling and flavour, but the Kobe beef association continue to try and ensure they are merely copies.
Without having to worry too much about which restaurant we’d go to, we were luckily visiting a friend in Kobe and were led to one called Biftek Kawamura. Apparently this restaurant only gets award winning beef at auction, and is one of the most highly rated anywhere in the country. Rare treat indeed. The auction quality beef accounts for only a minor percentage of all Kobe beef sold by all accounts.
So the reputation is there, the supposed standard – how on earth does it taste?
We went for a set menu – Kobe beef sashimi, Oxtail Soup, foie gras, a Kobe steak with vegetables, seasonal salad and some rice finished off with some dessert and coffee. Depending on what the quality or size of the set meal is, this will set you back ¥22,050 – ¥31,500 (£140 – £200 per head)
The whole meal is cooked Tepenyaki style on a large flat grill right in front of you. Always one of my favourite ways to have Japanese food as the chefs tend to put a bit of theatre into their cooking techniques. We ate this in a private dining room as well so this did feel very intimate.
When the Sashimi came out it was a lovely site, but I have to say it was fairly average! It was nice, very rich indeed, but just didn’t have that wow factor I was expecting. We moved onto the oxtail soup which carried a succulent flavour without doubt – we were starting to head in the right direction and then when the foie gras arrived all cylinders seemed to be turning over. Every morsel grilled right in front of us, our sense filled with immense smells of rich delicious food; the foie gras was creamy and melted in seconds. The steaks themselves looked so incredibly marbled and when they hit the grill you nearly passed out it was such a sight to behold. Expertly flipped and sliced for you, the marbling melted away and became one with the pink cuts. Presented right in front you you with three sauces you tuck in with utter abandon – every bite wanting to be held for ever.
To go to such lengths of excess to produce such indulgent meals is incredible. And it is worth it, the quality is there. All the salads and sauces were excellent as well.
The only thing to say is that the meal is so rich, that you do feel like you’ve damaged yourself… but hey once and a while, and certainly once in your life it must be experienced.
¥25,000 – ¥35,000 (£170 – £230) per head including drinks
Moonlight Building I 6th Floor 1-10-6 Kitanagasadori , Kobe City diagonally across from Tokyu Hands