For serious foodies, Kobe means one word – BEEF! It indeed was the renowned Kobe beef that drew us in. We were lucky enough to experience two Kobe beef encounters, for snacking and for a late lunch; all took place in Kobe Chinatown bordering Motomachi, the most crowded, noisiest and tastiest part of town. Both encounters were sensational and needless to say expensive, the three grades were $3000-yen apart (C$30), glad to say every bite was worthy.
Kobe beef encounter #1
It was the young man yelling and waving a cardboard with the food pictures and the phase “Kobe Beef” that stopped us, we then noticed the line-up in front of the street corner where an open kitchen was located. The kitchen was the restaurant and the street was the dining room – our definition of true street food! Approximately 40gm of Kobe beef was served in burger form; sliced, sauteed and put on rice; or strip of loin, grilled and cut on rice. Y$1200 gave you the AA-equivalent grade, $1500 AAA-grade and $1800 champion-grade. Our chosen AAA-grade beef was grilled to our desired doneness, medium rare, sliced to ¼” thick, served with chopped green onion and the beef jus on rice.
Kobe beef encounter #2
In a tiny but comfortably arranged restaurant offering nothing but Kobe Beef that were grilled and served like steak. Though there’re only 25 seats, the restaurant was one of the quieter eateries in this neighbourhood. Perhaps not too many folks were willing to cough up that kind of money for a piece of steak; or likely because the restaurant charged 5% on top for paying with your credit card, even when the bill was a 5-digit one. The “set” came with a bowl of soup made with the beef jus, a nice salad and a bowl of rice. The same three grades applied here and the price ranges similar but since this was a real western-style restaurant, the dollar figures tripled. For Y$8800, Henry chose the 120gm Champion grade which came certified. I was not quite ready to pay C$88 for a steak dinner hence opted for the next grade which still cost me $5500 (C$55). Both beef dishes came with pan-fried vegetables and were beautifully plated. Along with the salad, the soup, the beef sets were substantial enough.
Champion-grade Kobe beef is without a doubt, heavenly! Supreme marbling knits in the al dente mouth feel. The ‘oh mine’ thrill upon entering the mouth echoes with the crisp yet moist; meaty yet buttery euphoria your palate will remember for a long time. Each bite gives you the first bite umami that keeps making love to your senses.
AAA-grade Kobe beef worked fine medium rare since a little bit of chewing will expand the flavour profile and enjoyment. The thick slices of beef carried a melt-in-your-mouth texture but charred outer layer and the tender core layer combined to create a demanding depth.
If your wallet does not object, go for the champion grade and order it ‘rare’ – the only way to embrace the divinity of the flavour and texture granted to Kobe beef to the fullest. We both agree the 120gm set of Kobe beef is good enough to satisfy the indulgence, however, the qualitative pressure beef bowl is produces as good as the well-plated beef set in the restaurant. But of course, if you so desire, do go all out.