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Kobe Beef in Kobe

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Indy 67 Jul 31, 2009 08:00 AM

We're going to be taking a cruise that uses the port of Kobe for access to Kyoto. The first day, we'll visit the historical and cultural sites in Kyoto. However, with a 5:00 disembarkation time (which means we have to be on board the ship by 4:00 p.m.) we're going to stay in/around Kobe the second day of our port call. One of the activities we're obviously considering is eating a lunch of Kobe beef.

Considering this is such a rich beef, are there restaurants that serve this dish at lunch or is it more of a dinner offering? Assuming we can get Kobe beef at lunch, which restaurants do you recommend? (A little bit of warning about the prices would also be appreciated!)

If you think Kobe beef is only available for lunch in tourist traps, what alternate lunch-time meals would you recommend?

Thanks.

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    Ollieweber RE: Indy 67 Jul 31, 2009 07:17 PM

    Indy 67... something to know about beef in Japan... In Japan, beef is graded by level A, B, C... then by number 1,2,3,4,5. So, on this scale, A5 is the top level of beef by grade. A5 is very expensive and is normally very, very fatty, so a main course of about 80-100 gram is almost too much (3-4 oz).

    After the grading, the location the beef comes from is second (sometimes more important) than the actual grade. Example is Kobe, Mazsutaka, Sendai, Okinawa... This defines the flavor profile more than anything.

    In America and other parts of the world, there is a very (misunderstood) mistique regarding Japanese beef. Before coming to Japan, I was under the impression that Kobe beef was a 'class' of beef, when it actually only refers to the prefecture it comes from. So, to make a long story short, if you want to enjoy one beef dish in Japan, just make sure you are eating Wagyu (japanese beef is the exact translation of this word), which is more expensive than imported beef.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Ollieweber
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      Indy 67 RE: Ollieweber Aug 1, 2009 02:19 AM

      Thank you for helping me understand the beef situation a little better.

      I knew that the best beef is very fatty and that's why I wasn't even sure one makes a meal of it in the sense that an American steak meal would feature a huge slab of beef plus side dishes. Could you clarify the elements of a beef meal in Japan? For example, does one eat several courses chosen to culminate in a beef dish? If so, what are these courses? Will the letter grade and category number be part of the menu listing in a Japanese restaurant offering beef?

      That still leaves the practical questions: "Do restaurants offer the high grades of beef as a lunch time option?" and "Is there a restaurant in Kobe where my husband and I could eat the highest grades of Japanese beef?"

      Incidentally, we'll be in Tokyo for three nights as a brief stop-over on the way to the starting point of our cruise. Should we abandon our plan to eat Kobe beef in Kobe and eat some type of Japanese beef in Tokyo?

      Again, thank you. I really appreciate all the information you or anyone is willing to supply.

      1. re: Indy 67
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        Ollieweber RE: Indy 67 Aug 2, 2009 02:34 AM

        Regarding your questions:

        - There are many 'American Style Steak Houses' that feature steaks from Japan with sides, exactly like Ruth Chris, etc. One very respected restaurant is Oak Door in Grand Hyatt, Tokyo. They can explain all different cuts and grades very well, they even have a walk in refidgerator with the beef on display.
        -Beef meal in Japan, I am sorry I am not the proper person to explain (I am no expert on Japanese food), however a teppanayaki meal would probably be an approachable way to learn about beef. It is where all items are cooked by a chef in front of you, including beef if you like. If you are interested in tasting different Japanese beef, I may be able to help you, as it is amazing to see the different kinds of beef and the different flavors.

        Regarding the rest of your questions, I can help but it depends very much on your budget and where you are stay ing in Tokyo (location).

        Please note that as a foreigner, your biggest challenge will be the language, as not all restaurants have english menu or english speakers, however, I can recommend a few if you can advise of budget and location you will be staying in Tokyo.

        1. re: Ollieweber
          BaronDestructo RE: Ollieweber Aug 2, 2009 07:44 AM

          Hey Ollie,

          Two terrific, informative posts. With regard to Oak Door and their ability to explain the different cuts and great very well - do you mean in English?

          1. re: BaronDestructo
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            Ollieweber RE: BaronDestructo Aug 4, 2009 11:13 PM

            Oak Door is in the Hyatt, so they speak English perfect and charge the same!

            Think of it exactly as a hotel in USA but they have Japanese ingredients (beef, etc) and it is an American run hotel.

            1. re: Ollieweber
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              agehl77 RE: Ollieweber Jan 18, 2011 12:46 AM

              Hi Ollie,

              I'd really like to pick your brains regarding high end restaurants in Japan. Can I email me you privately? My email is agehl77@aol.com

              Best,
              Amir

          2. re: Ollieweber
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            Indy 67 RE: Ollieweber Aug 3, 2009 03:48 AM

            Thanks to everyone for your continuing help.

            The link to an earlier thread on the topic has helped me identify three restaurants in Kobe that will have lunch service: A-1, Miyasu, and Rokudan.

            Other than price, any suggestions as to how to choose among these three? Excellent food has to be the baseline feature, but other factors can be central location and comfort level for English-only speakers.

            Incidentally, I have conflicting information about Rokudan. The bento.com web site includes Rokudan although another board says this restaurant has relocated to Harbourland/Mosaic. I don't know what that means so Rokudan may still be in Kobe.

            Here's some information about Tokoyo to help you help us: We're in the process of making our hotel reservations, but I think we'll be staying at the Park Hotel in the Shiodome neighborhood.

            Last night at dinner (co-incidentally at a local Japanese restaurant), my husband and I talked about our meal budget in Tokyo. He's not a great fan of sashimi. His idea of a nice meal at a Japanese restaurant is an interesting roll followed by "something" (e.g. teriyaki/katsu/tempura). In contrast, I love sashimi. He said that he wouldn't even consider spending $200 per person on a high-end sushi meal. When we do an all-sushi/sashimi meal, I'm sure it will be at one of the places near the fish market. However, my husband is definitely willing to spend $200 per person for a beef meal.

            With this guidance, what would you recommend in Tokyo?

            1. re: Indy 67
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              Uncle Yabai RE: Indy 67 Aug 3, 2009 04:50 AM

              Well, it will certainly be an education for him. No self-respecting Japanese restaurant in Japan will have an "interesting roll" followed by the main course. Maybe in a bento box, or in a sushi restaurant, where you can have as many rolls as you like, but they usually aren't "interesting" (tasty, very much so, but not "interesting" unless you consider kanpyo-maki or wasabi-maki interesting), and more often are eaten last, at the end of the meal.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai
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                Indy 67 RE: Uncle Yabai Aug 3, 2009 05:17 AM

                At dinner, I shared all the information I've picked up about sushi protocol so far, and he's already overwhelmed. For example, I've already warned him that he'll offend the sushi chefs if he dunks in as much soy sauce as he usually uses! (I think I'll start another thread on the protocol of sushi eating in Japan.) He wants to try some high-end sushi/sashimi as part of a modern kaiseki meal, but he's totally unwilling to do the all-sushi/sashimi high end version.

              2. re: Indy 67
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                deraumai RE: Indy 67 Aug 3, 2009 05:11 AM

                Agree with Uncle Y. A lot of sushi restaurants in the States seem geared towards folks who may be a mixed lot, some liking raw fish and others not. Even sushi and sashimi tend to be separate over here. You may want to consider an upscale izakaya or counter-type wa-shoku place, that's where I usually find the best sashimi, along with many other dishes (fried, raw, veg, grilled, simmered....) seasonal goodness, not just fish. Then you can both eat happily! Order up an o-nigiri (rice ball) and miso soup at the END of the meal and impress the chef with your dining savvy.

                1. re: deraumai
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                  Indy 67 RE: deraumai Aug 3, 2009 05:42 AM

                  Thanks.

                  In my research, I've already discovered the izakaya restaurant, and I think that's going to be an appealing option for us. Two places, En and Hibiki (both in Siodome) seem like good possibilities, but I'm still early in my research. I'd love to hear about any restaurants within a half-hour walk or an easy train/subway ride from Shiodome.

                  In an earlier post of mine in this thread, I wrote about a modern kaiseki meal. What I mean by that term is essentially a Japanese fusion meal -- Japanese sensibility, respect for flavor, season, and presentation wedded to more international ingredients, etc. (If anyone has eaten at Ame in San Francisco, you'll probably realize that my description of a modern kaiseki meal is essentially describing the food there.)

                  Whether my concept of a modern kaiseki meal is accurate is another issue, and I may need further education. Feel free to correct me!

                  1. re: Indy 67
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                    Uncle Yabai RE: Indy 67 Aug 3, 2009 06:07 AM

                    Both En and Hibiki are good places for gastro-izakaya type meals. Plenty of dishes to pick from for a range of tastes.

                2. re: Indy 67
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                  Ollieweber RE: Indy 67 Aug 4, 2009 11:09 PM

                  Let me give you advise about Tokyo and Japan... Japan has many, many, many customs, of which a foreigner will never understand, so while being polite, don't worry yourself too much.

                  Regarding sushi, if you are at the market, everyone goes for breakfast afterwards and it costs about 40 usd for the upper set.

                  Sushi in America is considered 'upscale' but in Japan it is a regular occurance having restaurants from 6 usd to hundreds....

                  Sounds like you will be staying at royal park in Shiodome, which is quite close to the market.

                  1. re: Ollieweber
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                    Ollieweber RE: Ollieweber Aug 4, 2009 11:17 PM

                    if you are interested, I could show you around the market, depending on when you are coming to Tokyo. I am no expert (ie I don't speak Japanese), but I have been to the market many times (I am a chef). I end up going anyway, mostly for the fruit and vegetable market which no one knows is attached (to find the seasonal produce).

                  2. re: Indy 67
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                    prasantrin RE: Indy 67 Aug 5, 2009 09:22 AM

                    To add one more, Kobe Steak Moriya is an old-school teppanyaki place that serves Kobe beef. Their English website is pretty comprehensive and includes prices (and a coupon which can be used at lunch, but not for all the courses).

                    http://www.mouriya.co.jp/en/mopr/inde...

                    I've not eaten there (I usually go to another place), but it's quite close to Hankyu Sannomiya Station (and JR Sannomiya, but a couple of minutes closer to Hankyu_.

                    They have an English menu but I'm not sure how the staff is with English on a day-to-day basis. You could always print out what you want, so when you're there you can just show them what you want.

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              davew666 RE: Indy 67 Aug 2, 2009 12:59 AM

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/599034

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                dtuggle RE: Indy 67 Jun 12, 2010 04:23 AM

                Recently we were randomly looking for a value beef place near Sannomiya station in Kobe and ran across MOPЯ. Upstairs and great food for lunch with beef cooked to perfection right in front of us. Our second best place was indian if you can believe it, Raja, on the other end of chinatown, about a 10 minute walk from Sannomiya Hankyu. Google maps helps.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dtuggle
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                  prasantrin RE: dtuggle Jun 12, 2010 05:19 AM

                  MOPЯ is Moriya, which I mentioned above. It's been around forever and a day, but in all the years I've been visiting Kobe, I never ate there. Glad to hear it was good; maybe I'll give it a try the next time I'm in Kobe.

                  Kobe probably has some of the best Indian food in Japan. It has a very large Indian population.

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