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Aug 10, 2010 04:32 PM

Have I had Kobe Beef Yet? Does A-1 Steakhouse serve Kobe beef?

Yes. I don't even know whether I have had Kobe beef or not.
I went to Kobe last month with friends. My friends have a smaller food budget, so we went to A-1 steakhouse because of another friend's recommendation.
Their menu is simple enough they are serve two kinds of steaks We choose the more expensive one which is about $70 USD per person (180g). At the end of meal, I wasn't quite sure whether we had Kobe beef or not. For the following 3 reasons

1. too cheap? I expect kobe beef to be super expensive. We passed by another place while walking toward A-1, the steak there (180g) starts from $100+ USD per person
2. menu didn't indicate its kobe beef. I don't understand Japanese, but I can read Kanji (Chinese characters on the menu). Nowhere it says the steak is kobe beef. It only says it's Wagyu (Japanese beef). (whereas the fancy one we passed by did say "kobe" beef)
3. i was underwhelmed..... the steak we had at A-1 tasted good, but it didn't blow my mind.

Regarding point #2, I tried to read up online about the difference between Kobe and Wagyu, I think beef in Japan has many grades, A5 being the top, and to be 'real kobe beef' it has to be above A4/A5 (please correct me if i am wrong.. . i am happy to learn). does the name A-1 steakhouse mean that they serve A1 grade of steak (which is the equivalent of most USDA prime steak)?
(reading from this site:


Can someone who understand Japanese beef grade or can read Japanese check out A-1 homepage for me?

I want to find out if I have had Kobe beef, if I haven't, then there is one more reason why I should visit Japan again! (or that I can continue my search for real kobe beef)

Thanks a lot!

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  1. I've been to A-1 a couple times, for the very reason you mention: It's cheap and it's quite central in the Sanomiya area. I remember that they had the plaque outside the door that indicated they were part of a Kobe beef cooperative--all the legit restaurants in the area have that, so consider that a seal of quality, if you will. I have had Kobe beef in much more expensive places than A-1, and I can say that theirs stands up well. They have a kind of unusual way of preparing it though: Grilling it on skewers, then doing a flambe in a hot pan with "secret wine."

    1. You're mixing up your labels. Wagyu is the name of the Japanese cattle breed. Kobe is the name of the city or area where the beef is from, the terroir, if you will. So Kobe beef IS wagyu. Matsuzaka, Hida, Mishima, Sendai, etc., are also names of wagyu beef from other parts of Japan (and arguably better than Kobe). And there are many grades of quality. The website you link to kind of explains that, but it's also misleading that they refer to their wagyu parenthetically as "Kobe" when their beef come from an area "100km northwest of Tokyo." I think it's just that Kobe is the catch-all name for exporters, so that may have become the naming convention. It's unfortunate since it seems to have caused you confusion as to what's what with Japanese beef. It's likely that what you had was Kobe beef, but probably a lower grade (choice vs prime, for example). Next time try the wagyu sashimi.

      1. I went to Wakkoqu in Kobe & had genuine Kobe beef.

        My friend & I ordered sirloin & tenderloin, respectively,
        & we each tried both (tenderloin obviously softer--but
        both melt in your mouth, like foie gras).

        Best steaks I ever had, but a lot more expensive than A-1.
        I am definitely going back, & would recommend it to you,
        if you can afford it.