Making a special trip for food isn’t exactly new to me as a food blogger, but sometimes when I’m really tired I’m not particularly excited to have to travel for over an hour just to have dinner. But that is exactly what happened when we drove all the way from Kyoto to Kobe, because apparently, we cannot leave Japan without getting a taste of Kobe beef. I guess the only way you can be assured that you’re getting legit Kobe beef is by eating it in Kobe itself!
Stopping by the port to take pictures proved to be difficult because it was soooo cold out this night, but I have to say, it did set us up very well for a feast. (Touché, travel agency.) When it’s cold outside and your body is trying to keep you from freezing to death from the inside, your brain keeps conjuring images of a warm meal. Or maybe that’s just me. 😛 This moment reminds me of the time we stopped over at Hotou Foodou on our way to Fuji Kawaguchiko.
Anyway, Steakland Kobe is actually located a few minutes by foot from Hankyu Sannomiya Station. If you don’t know where to look you’ll probably miss it, so keep your eyes trained upwards a little bit until you see the red signage that says “Steak Land”. (Sorry I didn’t take pictures since it was kind of dark out.) Chances are there will be a line, so just be prepared.
Since we came with a tour group we had reservations for the night. Here’s a little video I made about Kobe Steak Land just to give you guys a little glimpse of, well, the world-famous beef.
The first thing I thought about upon entering the restaurant: ‘Ah sweet warmth!’ Since this place does a lot of live cooking on the teppan, it’s a huge contrast from the freezing temperature outside. Jackets came off, but you can tell everyone was anticipating a delicious meal. The restaurant itself has an ambiance that’s not traditional Japanese in style at all– more European I guess.
As I understand it, the upper floor where we were dining is the private group area, while the lower floor is more like an open grill public bar setting.
People who love their beef would probably be aware that the ones from Hyogo Prefecture in Kobe are considered one of the best in the world. Known for beautiful fatty marbling, flavour, and tenderness, Kobe beef tend to carry a rather hefty price tag because of the strict way wagyu cattle are raised. Wagyu literally translates to “Japanese cattle” and Kobe beef is just one of four breeds of wagyu, specifically the Tajima breed.
Sitting on our table there were already appetizers waiting for us in the form of a salad, and some mushroom soup which I’m guessing is the soup of the day. (It’s not pictured here but it’s in the video.) There was a small serving of Japanese pickles, and two types of sauces.
To be honest, the chefs were really stretched thin among our tour group. The staff tried their best to provide us with equal service, but while the other tables were served their full meal, our table didn’t even get any rice until the very end of our meal. Thankfully the beef was delicious enough, though without the rice it wasn’t quite as filling.
The cooking process starts with butter and garlic chips on the teppan, letting the butter soak in the toasty garlicky flavour for a bit before the beef is laid on. I think this is sirloin, though I can’t be sure since I’m not a beef expert and I don’t really eat beef all that much. 😛
All I can say is that the chefs handled the beef quite expertly, much like the way the Japanese handle pretty much anything they consider an art. (Food is definitely one of them!) If you were expecting juggling and cooking tricks, the chefs here are too busy to put on that kind of show. Instead they were quick, no-frills, and deliberate about the whole thing. Interaction with the guests were kept to a minimum too.
Lo and behold, our medium rare Kobe beef! I can’t say too many specific things about this Kobe beef experience other than this was probably the best teppanyaki beef I’ve ever eaten. The Kobe beef is delicious, juicy, tender, melt-in-the-mouth… Basically everything advertised!
Even though the beef was cooked in garlic infused butter, I still ate it with the fried garlic chips just because beef and garlic are like mates for life. 😀
So would I recommend a visit to this place just for the beef? If you are indeed a big beef eater and want to see what all the fuss is about, I think the experience is definitely worth it. Taking a train will probably be faster than taking a bus as we did though, and come an hour ahead of the dinner crowd to make sure you get a seat! For the rest of us who can aren’t particularly big fans of beef, sticking with all the things Osaka and Kyoto have to offer (assuming you’re stopping over here during a visit to either or both places) can be even more satisfying. There’s so much good food in Japan it’s crazy!
So yeah, it really depends on which camp you fall into. On my part, since I was here already anyway, I have to say I enjoyed the beef a lot! As for the lingering teppanyaki smell in my hair after exiting the restaurant, err… Not so much! 😀
〒650-0021 Hyogo Prefecture,
Kobe, Chuo Ward,
Kitanagasadori, 1−8−2, 宮追ビル 1F・2F
Full disclosure: This post was not sponsored in any way. All opinions stated above are my own.