I will be in Kobe for about a week at the end of July - first time in Japan. Would appreciate and recommendations!!! TIA
What kind of food are you looking for? Japanese only?
My favourite okonomiyaki place is in Kobe. If you walk down Center-gai to the BAL Building, it's across the BAL Building. There are two okonomiyaki places--this one is Hana-something (with the kanji for "flower" in the name), with burgandy coloured noren, I think. The buta-cheese is my favourite.
There's also a well-regarded teppanyaki place at the Shin-Kobe Oriental Hotel (I'm not sure if that's still the name of the hotel).
If you're willing to take a train, there's also a good teppanyaki place in Okamoto (technically still part of Kobe) called Kochan's Lapin. It's pretty easy to get to from Hankyu or JR station. They have an English menu, if that's important to you, and they're very accomodating.
If you're interested in non-Japanese food, I have far more recommendations in that area.
Kusum Homba--odd little Indian place. There's nothing to order because they only do one all-vegetarian set--one samosa, daal, spicy curry, "sweet curry", with rice and chappati. Free refills of everything except the samosa (afaik, you can't order any more samosa, either). Difficult to find, so if you need better directions than what's in that review, I'll type something up for you.
Turkish--Caydacira--very good Turkish food, but a very small place. The weekend lunch sets are a good deal.
R. Valentino--italian, pizza--Napoli-style pizza is quite good (though there's better to be had elsewhere
akashiyaki--Tachibana Honten--I forgot to mention Akashi-style takoyaki. Lighter and eggier than takoyaki, dipped in dashi before eating. This is my favourite place (near the okonomiyaki palce
Hanabishi--Okonomiyaki--buta cheese or mochi cheese are very good.
Nadaban--middle-high end French-influenced Japanese. The chef is the head of the Kansai slow food association. Lunch is reasonable (about Y2500 for the cheapest set, I think), and they were kind enough to replace my soup after I dropped my camera in it...
Kitano at the Crowne Plaze Kobe--expensive teppanyaki. I haven't been, but my friends who have raved about it.
http://www.cpkobe.com/en/eng_restaura... for the hotel's website in
Kochan's Lapin--mid-range teppanyaki--lunch is a very good deal, but the better quality beef is served at dinner.)
http://www.kobe-okamoto.or.jp/gourmet... (Between JR
Settsu-Motoyama Station and Hankyu Okamoto Station--closer to Hankyu than
JR, but probably by less than a minute--it's only a couple of minutes from
Itoin--if you want cheap grilled beef, this is the place. In the basement of Sogo Department Store (right in front of JR Sannomiya), they only have 7 or 8 counter seats. If you go, go early or be prepared to wait half an hour or so (and don't plan on lingering), but it's a very good deal on Japanese beef. There are only a few choices--saikoro (about Y900), ooban (thinly sliced beef--about Y1000), hamburg, butashoga, and a couple of higher quality beef cuts (some kind of rib, and I can't remember the other but both are more than Y2000), and the saikoro and ooban are served with your choice of mixed spice, yakiniku tare, ponzu, or steak sauce. You usually have to place your order as you are waiting in line. (And don't lean on the glass divider!)
That's all I can think of right now. Kobe is also known for Western sweets, so if you're interested in cake shops, I know a few good ones.
I've always gone to Lapin, but more because of it's location and the friendliness of the staff. They don't serve Kobe beef exclusively, though, but beef from various parts of Japan (I think--I haven't been in quite awhile, but they usually put the labels out so you can see what kind of beef you're eating, and it's always domestic)). I don't eat a lot of beef, so I'm not as familiar wtih beef places.
Keeping in mind that I use landmarks to figure my way around, and rarely know street names, here goes....
From Hankyu Sannomiya Station, walk north to Yamate-dori. The easiest way to get there if you're unfamiliar with the area is to walk north along the west side of Flower Road from either JR or Hankyu Sannomiya Station until you get to a wide road (divided road, about 3 lanes on each side) perpendicular to Flower Road. Cross the pedestrian overpass (staying on the west side), then walk west along Yamate-dori. After several blocks, you'll find a Nishimura Coffee Shop that sort of looks like a Swiss chalet (at least I think so). Turn right and walk uphill a few blocks toward Yamamoto-dori. On the right, there will be a white apartment building, and that's the building Kusum Honba is in. It's on the third floor (apartment 302), and it's a bit intimidating because you feel like you're just walking into someone's apartment, but don't worry about knocking or anything. Just go right in (assuming it's open).
Here's the address 神戸市中央区山本通2-3-8 . If you plug it into Google Maps, you can get a pretty good map of the area, and you'll find an easier route to get to Yamate-dori from wherever you're coming from (I just gave the easiest way that I can remember).
The building name is 葉山ハイツ (Hayama Heights).
Here's a picture of the Nishimura Coffee Shop that I use as a landmark:)
http://www.julieinjapan.com/2008/07/n... (not my blog
Here's a link to details--address, map, etc. closed Mondays.
I'm not sure, but I think there may be a sign for Kusum Honba on the sidewalk outside the building now.
Hope that helps, but if you need clarification on anything, feel free to ask!
I can recommend 3 restaurants in the basement of Sun Plaza in Center-gai (near Sannomiya station): 1. Hinadori, a delicious yakitori counter run by husband/wife team, 2. Tonkatsu Musashi - hands down the best fried pork cutlet place in the world (order the hirekatsu and the mushroom/shrimp balls) 3. Goncharov for chocolate desserts - delicious dark nama-choko cubes (nama means raw) are intense and a perfect finish to a good meal. I live in San Francisco but when I go home to Kobe I make sure I hit these 3 places every time.
Goncharoff's URL is http://www.goncharoff.co.jp/ . It usually has branches in department store depachikas, but I don't remember seeing any free-standing stores, and I can't seem to find the store locator on their website.
Found the cafe http://www.goncharoff.co.jp/f_02.html . It's also in Sun Plaza.
Morozoff is another Kobe institution http://www.morozoff.co.jp/ . They have a couple of cafes attached to some of their stores, but also sell in a lot of depachika.
In both cases, I think their chocolates are good, but I wouldn't go out of my way for them.
All 3 - Hinadori, Tonkatsu Musashi and Goncharoff are located in the lower level of Sun Plaza on Center-gai. Center-gai is the main drag in downtown Kobe, near Sannomiya station. Hinadori is a counter-only restaurant - can only seat about 8 people and the yakitori man will turn people away once he runs out of chicken. He is a totally meticulous grillman. Order the yakitori bowl for a scrumptious sampling of grilled chicken parts or order ala carte and get your favorite parts - heart, skin, liver, gizzard, wing, white meat, etc. Tonkatsu Musashi has several branches in Kobe but the best one is in Sun Plaza. And I still stand by the pieces of raw dark chocolate you can get at Goncharoff.
Sorry! I left for holidays the day you posted this, so I must have missed it!
Sun Plaza's website is http://www.kscp.co.jp/sc/sc.html and the shops including restaurants are all listed at http://www.kscp.co.jp/sc/floor.html . Hinadori is Number 37, Goncharoff is Number 15, and I think Tonkatsu Musashi is Number 61 (it's the only tonkatsu place listed, so it must be it).
The address and map of Sun Plaza is here http://www.kscp.co.jp/map/map.html .
Prasantrin, thanks for your map of Sun Plaza. I confirm your notations that No. 37 is Hinadori, 15 is Goncharoff and 61 is Tonkatsu Musashi. In looking at the chart, I also note Kabe no Ana (No.19) which has interesting Japanese-style spaghetti toppings. My favorite is mentaiko (spicy cod roe) and uni-ikura (urchin & salmon roe).
i ate really well there but sadly the names escape me!...but i'll ask my gf and check back: there was one sushi place and two Spanish/tapas places that we loved...
I attended a friend's wedding today in Kobe and I had the absolute best wedding reception meal ever. If you happen to be in Kobe and have an itch for French food, the branch of Alain Chapel at Portopia Hotel is a must-do. Well-prepared food with a perfect balance of flavours. The only miss for me was the dessert (mont blanc with a bittersweet chocolate ice cream), but the rest was excellent (well, I wouldn't have minded if the filet of beef were rare or medium rare rather than medium-well, but I suppose when cooking for 70-ish, it can't be helped). We had:
Gelee tremblotante de langoustines a l'aneth des jeunes legumes et du caviar
Royale de champignons d'automne Saint-jacque et truffes "Cappuccino"
Chausson de daurade aux epinards et tomate une sauce a l'anchois
Filet de boeuf poele, une sauce au vin de la vallee du Rhone
Gateau de mariage
Creme de marron de "Tanba" sur une confiture de lait "Mont Blanc"
(copied as written except I've left off all the diacritics)