As I was in Kobe, I figured I had to try Kobe beef. It's the one thing (other than the earthquake) that is world famous about Kobe and I figured someone, someday will ask me... "so, did you eat real Kobe beef in Kobe?" And if I were to answer "no." to that question I would be really lame and disappointed with myself, so, that's how I found myself in a steak house getting a a crazy expensive meal and trying to savor every moment.
While the cows are not massaged daily and fed beer as it is commonly thought, there are strict criteria that must be followed in order beef to be called Kobe beef. 1) the cow must be raised in Hyogo prefecture in Japan by designated producers. 2) The cows must be slaughtered at particular slaughterhouses and examined closely. 3) The fat marbling, firmness, texture and color are graded on a scale (BMS- Beef Marbling Score) and must achieve a certain amount of points.
Since there are such high standards, the cows are raised in a "stress-free" environment, according to the pamphlet I received. They are only fed fresh water, the best feed and allowed to "grow at their leisure to maturity". So, I guess for those vegetarians who are concerned about animal rights, you might not feel so guilty eating Kobe beef as opposed to some of the other varieties out there.
On to my Kobe beef experience....
Nori made reservations for us to eat at Nishimura which was close to his house. It's a teppanyaki style eatery where they cook the food on a grill in front of your eyes.
While they're not generous with the steak (you get about a fist size portion, which is probably the correct size... but I'm an American who is used to a steak more or less the size of a dinner plate), the meal itself is about 7 courses, so you won't leave feeling hungry by any means.
We started with soup and salad, western style.
Then, out came the meat. The big hunk with lots of fat was split between three of us. It looked a lot smaller on the plate after it was cooked though...
On to the seafood
And a second course of meat, this time fried with bean sprouts.
Finally, it was time for desert and tea or coffee. I found that Japanese really like western style black tea for some reason.
And here we all are; me, Nori, Nori's friend and Nori's friend's mom. All of them were excited to practice English with me and I was happy to have great company for dinner! If you happen to stop by Kobe, make sure you get to taste Kobe beef!
Bonus! A video of the experience! Enjoy.. hope you're not hungry now!