Photo By: Elin Chow
Kobe Beef is a prized Japanese delicacy renowned for its tenderness, flavor, heavy marbling and melt-in your-mouth texture. The succulent meat is the reason why we decided to include a visit to the city of Kobe in our 7D6N Japan trip. After all, where better to taste the world-famous Kobe Beef than Kobe itself?
Authentic Kobe Beef can commands an extremely high price in Japan. In fact, it is famously known to be one of the most expensive beef in the world, carrying a price tag of hundreds of dollars per pound. Even though it is expensive, I will still recommend you splurge on this super luxury meat, especially if you are visiting the city of Kobe in Japan.
Kobe Beef has a high level of fat marbling and a relatively low melting point. The taste of the meat is incredibly heavenly and unique, so much different from any other beef you have tasted. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to buy or eat Kobe Beef anywhere in the world because they are rarely exported out of Japan.
Wagyu literally means Japanese cattle that is bred in Japan or Japanese-style. All Kobe Beef is Wagyu, but not all Wagyu is Kobe Beef. Most people thought that Kobe and Wagyu are the same premium Japanese Beef, but they are actually not.
Kobe Beef must come from a pure lineage of Tajuma-gyu wagyu cattle that are born and raised in Hyogo prefecture. But not all Tajuma-gyu deserve the title "Kobe Beef". Only the chosen few that satisfy the specific quality criteria set out by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association can be labeled the Kobe Beef. Due to the strict standards, only 3,000 head of cattle qualify as Kobe Beef per year. It is the rarity of the meat that makes it so valuable and expensive.
The production of Kobe Beef is rigorously monitored. Wagyu are usually raised to three years old, giving the cattle a longer period for fattening. They are largely kept indoor and are fed a high quality and nutritious feed, consisting a blend of rice, straw, maize, barley and various other ingredients and drink only fresh and clean water. Once all the strict criteria are satisfied, the Wagyu will be labeled "Kobe, and will carry a 10-digit identification number.
Kobe Beef can be prepared and served as steak, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, sashimi and Teppanyaki. But the best way to enjoy it is at a Teppanyaki restaurant where a chef grills the meat on a huge iron griddle in front of hungry diners.
After reading numerous reviews online, my husband and I decided to dine at Steak Land, one of the most popular Kobe Beef restaurant in Kobe city. This restaurant comes highly recommended and did not disappoint.
Steak Land is conveniently located right across Hankyu Sannomiya Station and is always packed with both locals and tourists alike. It is certainly one of the best place to try authentic Kobe Beef in the city due to their relatively affordable price and central location.
We arrived slightly past 1.00 pm and make it for their last lunch slot of the day. People who arrived slightly later than us were turned away by the restaurant. How lucky we were! Thus, I suggest that you come earlier if you plan to have your lunch at Steak Land to avoid any disappointment.
My husband and I ordered the Kobe Beef lunch set priced at 3,180 Yen each. Each set comes with 150 g of Kobe Beef, a bowl of rice, miso soup, grilled vegetables, Japanese pickles and a choice of after-meal coffee or orange juice.
We waited in anticipation while the restaurant prepared our orders. Minutes later, a chef came to our table with plate loaded with thick slabs of uncooked meat.
The meat has a higher proportion of fat than other beef. Some diners, especially those who are not a fan of fatty meat, might find it too fatty and greasy. But Kobe Beef is just all about fats. The soft fat is what makes the meat flavorful and delicious.
It was fascinating to watch the chef prepare our food right before our eyes. To start, the chef melted some butter on sizzling hot griddle.
Once the butter was fully melted, the chef then proceeded to saute garlic chips. The garlic were gently cooked over medium low heat until fragrant.
Once done, the chef distributed the sauteed garlic chips evenly to each of our plates before proceeding to grill the beef.
Placing the beef on the iron griddle, the chef seasoned the meat lightly with some salt and pepper. Seasonings are limited to to soy sauce, wine, salt and pepper in order to bring out the original flavor of the beef
Once both sides of the meat are seared, the chef skillfully cuts the meat into half, then the stripes into several smaller cubes.
Each cube of Kobe Beef is cooked no further than medium-rare to retain the maximum flavor. This is because unlike other beef, Kobe Beef has a lower melting point. The meat melts at a lower temperature and if it is cooked too long, it will simply melts away.
Thus, Kobe Beef must be quick grilled as over cooking it will result in a dry and tasteless piece of meat. A skilful chef should be able to bring out the maximum flavor of beef.
Then, the chef proceeded to grill a generous amount of vegetables and bean sprouts, seasoning them with salt and pepper.
The portions are small yet adequate. Each cube of meat is well-seasoned, just enough to enhance the flavor of the meat. Even without any extra garnishing or condiments, it is still amazingly delicious and flavorful on its own.
I am trying to chew as slowly as I can so that I can savor each bite. This is certainly the best beef I have tasted so far. Yes, it is expensive, but I still find it reasonably priced.
All in all, Steak Land offers a culinary experience that I would never forget. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who would like to try Kobe Beef. It is absolutely worth the splurge.
After our hearty lunch, we made our way to the Hanshin Railway Sannomiya Station again to take a train back to Osaka. However, we accidentally took the train bounded for Hanshin Umeda Station instead of Osaka-Namba Station.
Price: 675 Yen
Since it was still early, we decided to check out the Daimaru department store in Umeda. We chanced upon this Rikuro Ojisan's Baked Cheesecake store at the bottom of Daimaru and decided to buy one to try. Just like Pablo Cheesecake, Rikuro Ojisan's Baked Cheesecake is also originated from Osaka. Measuring 18cm in diameter, the cheesecake can easily be shared by 4 persons.
All the cheesecakes from Rikuro Ojisan are freshly baked. The outlet has an open kitchen so that you can watch the cheesecakes being made while waiting in the line.
The cheesecake is best to enjoyed while it is still hot and fluffy. It is incredibly light and bouncy with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Futhermore, it was not overly too sweet or heavy. Having tried both Pablo Cheesecake and Rikuro Ojisan's Baked Cheesecake, my husband and I actually love the latter more.
Price: 1,200 Yen
We also bought some grapes from Daimaru before heading back to our Airbnb apartment in the Namba area. It was very expensive and does not taste as nice as it looks. We took a short rest at our apartment before heading out to Dotonbori to grab dinner. This was basically how we spent our last 2 nights in Osaka.