Thursday, 2 May 2013

TASTING THE REAL DEAL: KOBE BEEF

Kobe Beef
I had been to Kobe Japan on two occasions in the past for business reasons. And you would think that I've grabbed the opportunity from both occasions to taste Kobe beef. But, I'm sorry to disappoint you.  The oh-so-darling price of this meat prevented me from doing so. The price of a meal of Kobe beef is a real darling at ¥13,000 (USD 130)! 

For the carnivorous lot, Kobe beef is labelled as the "holy grail of steaks". Prized for its rich flavor, tenderness, well- marbled fat, soft as butter, melts in your mouth (as if you are not eating meat but something creamy like ice cream!) characteristics.

I had basically researched that the criteria for 100% authentic Kobe beef is very strict: the meat must come from the black Tajimi-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, born, raised and slaughtered in the Hyōgo Prefecture region of Japan (in which lies the city of Kobe). According to tradition the cows are fed a special diet and are brushed and massaged regularly with sake (Japanese wine), but these are all nothing but pure myth. If you want to check why it is prized so high, check out Wikipedia and you will see that the real Kobe beef must fulfill certain conditions and registered before it can be labelled as such.

I had the privilege again of going to Japan last week for another business trip and this time around we were asked to visit Kobe. While there was no intention for me to taste the real deal, to my heart's (and stomach's) delight, one of our Japanese colleagues surprised me by saying that we will have our lunch by tasting one of the best and most prized meat in Japan!

But mind you, although Kobe is easy to reach via the Shinkansen bullet train, the trip was long. I had to spend more than three hours on the train to get to the particular place. From Shinagawa station, we took a Shinkansen bullet train that would bring us directly to Kobe. This single trip alone had already cost me ¥19000/USD190! In any case, it was worth the trip. We reached Kobe through the JR Shinkansen train which took us directly to Shin-Kobe. The train left exactly at 817 AM and made about four (4) short stops (I.e. Shin Yokohama-Nagoya-Osaka-Kyoto) before we reached Kobe. By the time we arrived it was already 1043AM (this is Japan so don't mind me for being precise - haha).

From Shin-Kobe we took about two train interchanges that brought us all the way to a shopping mall just right outside the station.
Nice view of Kobe Japan from a window of Kobe Grill restaurant
On a rainy cold mid-day, we headed towards Kobe Bay Sheraton Hotel and went up all the way to the topmost floor were we went directly to a restaurant called Kobe Grill. It was a cozy restaurant with a very nice view that opens up to beautiful Kobe.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/54698747@N04/8476329735
The beef was cooked Teppanyaki style (which is my most favorite and apparently most expensive Japanese style of cooking). Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food. The word teppanyaki is derived from "teppan" which means iron plate, and "yaki" which means grilled, broiled or pan-fried.

I had mine medium rare so that one can really taste the juiciness and softness of the meat. The food was prepared by a chef in front of us. Alongside miso soup, grilled vegetables and rice and the meal ending with a green tea flavored ice cream had left us all with a happy stomach and a ready and prepared mind for a whole afternoon of meetings.

Kobe beef to taste & savor when in Japan? Checked off my bucket list!

Definitely oishi!







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