One of cuisine-related things I had on my bucket list was to one day eat Kobe beef in Kobe.
The thing is, all over Japan, there are many places that say they offer “Kobe Beef”. May it be in burgers or steak and sell it for cheap. But the thing is, if you want quality Kobe Beef, especially Kobe Steak, you are going to have pay quite a bit of money as it is a bit expensive. In fact, it was listed at #9 in the World’s Most Expensive Food listing.
Kobe beef is beef from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black Cattle raised in the Hyogo prefecture and are under strict rules from the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association.
Kobe beef (Kobe Gyu) is known for its wonderful flavor, velvet-textured tenderness, fatty but yet well-marbled texture.
Tajima cattle have 100% pure bloodlines dating back to the Edo period and producers are designated by and registered with the Kobe Meat Promotion Association and the producers are the only ones permitted to fatten Tajima cattle in Hyogo. In addition, the beef must come from nulliparous cows or neutered bulls and can only be raised by designated and registered breeders. And they must be born, raised and slaughtered only in Hyogo prefecture.
When the cattle reach 28-60 months old, they are sent to abattoir centers in Hyogo and must achieve a Grade A or Grade B yield rat in order to qualify. Also, on the Beef Marble Score (BMS), Kobe Beef must yield BMS between 6 and 12 where Beef Marble Score (BMS) grade range is 1-12.
Often in Japan, you will see the word “Wagyu” wich is a word that refers to any Japanese cattle, but Kobe Beef is wagyu, it is different because of the strict standards.
And in Japan, there are five top brands of beef: Kobe Beef, Matsusaka Beef (found in Mie, Japan) and Omi/Yonezawa Beef (Omi is found in the Omi, Shiga, Japan; Yonezawa is found in Yamagata Prefecture) are considered the top three but there are two others, Iga Beef and Saga Beef.
It’s also important to note that Tajima cattle are bred as feeder cattle for Matsusaka Beef and other luxury beef brands.
As for Kobe Beef, the Tajima strain of Japanese Black Cattle are raised differently in the fact that they are given beer to induce their appetite, they are massaged daily which leads to accentuating the marbling and to keep these cattle relaxed, they are played classical music. So, they associate classical music with eating and music improves their appetite.
And a lot of people may have heard of Kobe Beef internationally because famous retired NBA player, Kobe Bryant was named after Kobe Beef after his parents saw the name on a Japanese menu.
But for meat lovers, many have heard about how Kobe Beef is one of the most expensive types of beef in the world and if you are willing to pay the price, many say it’s well worth it.
Having been to Japan many times, I’ve struggled if I wanted to eat Kobe Beef because of its price. Do I want to spend $200-$600 on steak?
Well, it was on my bucket list…just there for many years and I figured that if it’s on my list, it’s something I wanted to experience and I’m not going to let this continue on for another decade or two. So, I headed to Kobe in the Hyogo prefecture and decided to head to one of the most well-known Kobe Beef restaurants in Kobe, Kobe Tanryu Ikutashinmichi ten.
Throughout Kobe, you will find Kobe Tanryu restaurants which are owned by the company KISSHO.
When you go inside Kobe Tanryu Ikutashinmichi ten, you will see that the restaurant resembles certain sushi/ramen establishments where everyone is close and the location only has ten seats. So, if you have a large backpack, please take it off and put it close to the area where you hang coats and can store your bags.
When you are seated, you will see a plaque and statue. That’s to let everyone know, you are eating champion cattle. And Kobe Tanryu’s parent company KISSHO purchase award-winning champion cattle.
A cattle sale of “Kobe Beef” including “Tajima Beef” is held around 50 times a year in the Hyogo Prefecture. In every competition, there is a “Champion Kobe Beef” which is the highest quality and this fair that showcases championship cattle is held 50 times a year and there are 50 cattle of champion Kobe cattle that is produced. The company KISSHO buys more than 15 cattle per year and is distributed among their restaurants which include Kobe Tanryu.
In addition, KISSHO buys various cattle such as the champion – 1st, superior – 2, excellent – 3 and honor – 4th.
When you consider that KISSHO purchase 15 cattle of the 50 produced per year, the percentage of the best cattle, best quality beef is scarce and KISSHO restaurants carry those cuts of beef.
I went to Kobe Tanryu Sannomiya ten during lunch, so what they offered was Prime Kobe Beef Special Marbled, Prime Kobe Beef Sirloin, Prime Kobe Beef Fillet and Prime Kobe Beef Chateaubriand. And these are listed by the cheapest price to most expensive.
Each steak are listed by 120g, 180g and 300g and prices differ. For example, if you want to eat Prime Kobe Beef Chateaubriand, 120g is $23,500, 180g is Y35,200 and 300g is Y58,000.
Yes, the Chateaubriand is expensive but what if you want to experience Kobe Beef but don’t want to spend so much, they do offer “Kobe Steak Sushi”, which is strips of Kobe Steak prepared on top of rice for Y800 each. I noticed people ordering Kobe Beef Fried Rice with garlic (which takes very small pieces of Kobe Beef and mix it with rice with garlic) for Y1,300.
But for those who want Kobe Steak, there is cheaper and that is the Prime Kobe Beef Special Marbled for Y7,800 for 120g.
Whichever you pick, it comes with the a vegetable set for lunch.
For me, I wanted to experience Kobe Steak and was willing to pay the price for quality beef.
But the chef did a great job of upsell, as it will take a while to serve everyone, why not have an appetizer. So, I purchased two Kobe beef sushi for Y800 each.
You also get a salad, soup and your drink while you wait.
While he prepares your cut of beef, the chef will take a picture with your camera/smartphone with your cut of steak and to show that the restaurant uses champion cattle.
I noticed the woman sitting next to me was going for a Kobe Beef burger and her husband was going for a Prime Kobe Beef Special Marbled.
I ordered the Prime Kobe Beef Fillet 120g for Y14,800 and noticed it was quite small.
The chef asks how you would like your steak and I let the chef make the decision and he recommended medium-rare.
The Prime Kobe Beef Fillet was absolutely delicious. But you only get nine slices and nine slices are not going to keep me full.
So, I had to order more Kobe Beef…
Here is a video of the chef preparing the Kobe Steak:
All I can say is that Kobe Beef was absolutely delicious. Everything I have watched, heard, read about the taste, texture of Kobe Beef was true and I’m grateful for the chef for a well-prepared meal at Kobe Tanryu Sannomiya ten.
Eating Kobe Beef is no doubt a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m not going to post the total of how much I spent but I will say that I am quite thrilled that I finally, after all these years, went to Kobe and tried Kobe Beef and now able to check it off my bucketlist.
If you are in Kobe (Hyogo) area, definitely give Kobe Tanryu Ikutashinmichi ten or any of the Kobe Tanryu restaurants a try!