I must have been a teenager when I first heard about Kobe beef. I was watching a TV programme that said it was the best meat in the world and it’s only found in Japan. The cows were reportedly massaged daily and given beer instead of water to drink, secrets to make the meat so tender and succulent. This sounded so quirky, so Japanese. The cattle seemed to be living my ideal lifestyle too!
Kobe beef (Wagyu beef) is from a special breed of cattle that resulted from breeding Western and Japanese cows, as demand for beef consumption increased after the end of WW2. Unfortunately the cattle are not fed on a diet of beer or massaged but they’re fed a diet high in grains.
Kobe cattle produce beef with delicately marbled fat. This fat is so fine that it melts at room temperature. Although Wagyu beef can be bought around the world, Kobe beef is the original and the best quality.
I had to try it!
Unfortunately a world renowned delicacy like Kobe beef doesn’t come cheap. Some restaurants offer lunch time specials but the price is still extremely high. Out of my poor English teacher budget. I initially walked into a restaurant to try it, tempted by the cheap prices outside. I found out they were not the prices for Kobe beef so I swallowed my pride and up and left to find something more to my budget.
Hidden in the outskirts of Kobe’s vibrant China town is a stall that sells small individual portions of kobe beef. For just 1200 yen ($12) you can taste this delicacy and still afford a bed for the night.
The bigger the portion, the higher the price. I ordered the smallest portion as I just wanted to try it. It wasn’t enough for a full meal but just enough to try this exclusive delicacy.
So what does it taste like? Kobe beef should be cooked rare and I was pleased to still see some pinky blood on my portion of Kobe beef. The fat melts during cooking and the beef has a smooth, velvety taste and a subtle flavour that lingers in the palate for hours. It’s decidedly Japanese.
It was worth the 16 year wait!
Have you ever tried Kobe beef? If so what did you think? Would you try Kobe beef in Kobe, Japan?