Kobe Beef is a world renowned form of meat that seems to have taken upon mythical status. It is exotic, yet signs for Kobe beef can be found everywhere. Technically speaking, most of the “Kobe Beef” outside of Japan isn’t really Kobe beef at all. The correct term for this is Kobe-style beef, which employs similar concepts but isn’t quite the same. Many restaurants just say Kobe beef because no one really knows the difference and to tell customers the difference would scare off potential buyers. True Kobe beef is only made in the Hyogo prefecture in Japan, which the city of Kobe is the capital of.
The best way to get real Kobe beef is to go straight to the source, Kobe, Japan. I was lucky enough to find myself in Kobe one day, so I didn’t have to add a thousand dollar plane ticket onto what would already be the most expensive steak of my life.
By the time I made it to Kobe, I had already been in Japan for a few days and had sustained myself with convenience store food in anticipation of the price of the Kobe beef I would get at the end of my journey.
The place I went to had a pretty good set meal and cooked in the teppanyaki style, which is similar to Benihana, but without the entertainment. These were Kobe beef people with only steak on their minds. The strong scent of cooking beef filled my nostrils as I ordered my steak. The process of raising the Wagyu cattle which Kobe beef comes from creates beautifully marbled steaks, which give the beef their perfect taste and texture. My beef was so perfectly marbled when it first came out, it made my stomach growl with excitement. The chef salted it and gently placed it on the grill.
After a few minutes of cooking, I put the first succulent piece in my mouth and
began needlessly chewing as it just melted in my mouth. I’ve never had meat so tender and juicy and delicious. I tried my best to eat slowly, but I just couldn’t wait to get each subsequent piece onto my tastebuds. When the last bite made its way into my mouth, my stomach gave me a little nudge, as if to thank me. Even after I finished I couldn’t bring myself to eat or drink anything but water until the taste finally disappeared into my memory.
The true Kobe beef experience is one that every unvegan and meat lover should undertake at least once in their life. In fact, I think even vegetarians and vegans would appreciate a steak such as this. The price ($40-50) is quickly forgotten as soon as you take your first bite.
For the uninitiated, this is an experience not to be wasted on a hamburger, which destroys the beautiful marbling. Even if you’re not eating official Kobe beef, it can only be enjoyed to the fullest in steak form. And if you’re lucky enough to get your Kobe beef in Japan, you’ll be spoiled for life in realizing that all other burgers and steaks are like tofu in comparison.
For more about what makes Kobe beef real, check out this site.