Wagyu beef is a Japanese type of beef, known for its tenderness, fat marbling and buttery soft flavours. A high grade piece of wagyu would be full of flavour and melt in your mouth. These cattle are often fed, massaged, and sung to on a daily process prior to their deaths, in which trophies would be created to represent their life.
Kobe is a city located in Hyogo Prefecture famous for producing wagyu beef from their Tajima black cattle and shipping it around Japan. The term Kobe beef is specifically for these cattle born, raised and slaughtered in this prefecture. During my Japan trip in April, I stopped by Kobe for 4 hours to explore and splurge my taste buds on some Kobe beef.
I did not research much into my lunch choice prior to my arrival because I was more concerned with where I was going to dump my luggage for 4 hours. After a brief Google search, I found Kobe Beef Kiyama, with 4.3 star ratings. I picked this restaurant because it was open at 2PM, accepted walk ins and served Kobe steak for a reasonable price.
It was a really fancy restaurant, with curtains to close around each table to give you an inclusive dining experience. The front of house and chef was super friendly and excited to serve (they were so animated). They explained each dish and brought out the trophies so I could take photos too. They also gave me plenty of time to eat before checking in on how I liked the dishes.
I ordered the kobe beef sashimi, recommended as their best selling dish and having won first in the district in 2018. Look at how cute the trophy was! This sashimi was a beautifully rich bite with effortless chewing. The meat was not too thin nor thick. It had a slight grainy texture, possibly from how it was designed to taste like sashimi. The sauce on top was a nice savoury and slightly sweet soy flavour. It cost 1,200 yen for one (equivalent to $15 AUD) and I ended up ordering another one 😂.
This was a nice corn soup served to undercut the beefy flavours. It was smooth and sweet, complimentary to the meal.
Another complimentary dish, a Caesar salad. The thing with Japanese salads is they use a sweeter and creamier mayonnaise, with a distinctive egg yolk flavour, similar to Kewpie Mayonnaise. The Parmesan flakes and refreshing cherry tomatoes cut through the thick flavours.
I ordered 100g of A1 graded Kobe steak. In the wagyu world, beef is categorized in three categories A, B or C (A being above standard, B is standard and C is below standard) and a number is graded on their marbling, fat ratio, colour, texture and BMS (beef marbling standard). Thus, C1 is considered the lowest in quality of wagyu and A5 is the premium, best of the best.
They showed me the marbling prior to slicing and cooking it and my gosh, I almost drooled onto my camera when I saw it. My steak came out a gorgeous medium rare colour, in medium sized pieces. The condiments was salt, wasabi and a sweet soy flavour, with the peas and pumpkin sides. It was an A1 grade, meaning this beef was above the standard, with an average ranking in BMS. It does show, as the beef did not disperse immediately once it hit my tongue. It took 3-5 chews to swallow the piece.
The cost of this steak was 4,800 yen (approx. $60 AUD). As I was travelling solo and on a budget, it was worth the spend for me, as I was only there to satisfy my kobe cravings. I've had A5 kobe at the famous Kobe restaurant in Tokyo 2017 and let me tell you, unless you're willing to pay $300 AUD for a steak, it would be hard to get that heavenly flavourful beef in your mouth. A5 wagyu (kobe) is considered one of the finest delectable dishes of life, ranked high with cavier and truffle 🤤.
Overall, I loved my dining experience at this restaurant. Everyone really tried to speak English to make me feel welcomed (even though I was replying in Japanese lol). I recommend visiting this restaurant if you're ever in Kobe or trying one of the many other wagyu restaurants nearby (most were teppenyaki or burgers).