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The Essential Kobe Beef Experience in Kobe, Japan
If you’ve never had your world rocked by Kobe beef, a visit to Japan is the perfect time to indulge and give it a try. In fact, you really can’t leave Japan without trying this delicacy. If you are at all skeptical, like I was, about whether Kobe beef is as good as everyone says it is, I can assure you it is.
Our Kobe beef experience may very well have rendered us unable to ever fully enjoy regular steak again. In fact, we often lament that we can’t get authentic Kobe beef outside of Japan . Regular steak just doesn’t cut it anymore.
If you think you’ve had Kobe beef somewhere outside of Japan, you have tried the real thing. It’s important to note that many restaurants around the world, outside of Japan, claim to have Kobe-style Wagyu beef that adheres to the Japanese grading scale, but it’s not true Kobe beef.
After eating the real thing, and trying a few of these impostors, I can assure you there’s only one real Kobe beef and no substitutions will do.
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If you have longer to spend in Japan, you can expand this itinerary to any length you wish.
- We have a 7-day itinerary and a 2-week Japan itinerary so you can choose which length of trip suits you best.
- If you will only be visiting Tokyo, here’s a shortened 3-day itinerary for Tokyo .
- Want to add more days outside of Tokyo? Here’s a 3-day Kyoto itinerary and a 2-day Osaka itinerary .
Why is Kobe Beef So Good?
The answer is… it’s a secret! The only thing that is truly known about the production of Kobe beef in Japan is that it is Wagyu cattle born in Kobe and raised by strict standards set forth by the regulatory committee of the Japanese government.
It’s like Champagne. There can be no substitute for the real thing. And thus far, no one has been able to reproduce the incredible flavor and marbling that makes Kobe beef the best in the world, despite attempt to create Kobe-style beef. If you’re going to Japan, you can’t miss out on the Kobe Beef Experience.
Where to Eat Kobe Beef in Kobe, Japan
The best place to try Kobe beef is in Kobe itself. That might mean you need to take a little extra jaunt, but it’s well worth it for the experience.
Getting from Osaka to Kobe is only a short 25-minute train ride. There are dozens of restaurants serving Kobe beef for lunch and dinner, and while you’ll pay for the privilege, I can assure you, it is worth it.
There are many restaurants in Kobe where you can have a fantastic Kobe beef. We chose a chain called Kobe Ishidaya that garners almost a full 5-star review on Trip Advisor . It is a relatively easy Kobe steak restaurant to find and it delivers on all fronts: atmosphere, experience and – most importantly – deliciousness.
Other great options are the small family-owned Steak Aoyama and the #1 rated steakhouse in Kobe, Mouriya Lin . No matter which restaurant you choose, a reservation is highly advised, especially if you’re not planning to arrive right at 11:30am for lunch or 5pm for dinner. At any other time, it will be nearly impossible to get a seat.
What Beef to Order
Japanese Wagyu beef is graded on a scale with a letter and a number. The letter (A to C) rates the amount of meat vs fat/bone, etc, that can be harvested from the cow with A being the best. The number (1-5) rates the ratio of fat to lean meat, with 5 being the best. The more fat, the better .
A5 is the highest quality Kobe beef, and thus the most expensive, but hopefully you knew that going in, so there isn’t any sticker shock that makes you change your mind and order the A4 in a moment of panic. At Ishida, the A5 lunch set comes with 130 grams (4.5 ounces) of beef with appetizer, sides and dessert for $78 US. That’s pretty reasonable for the opportunity to try the best beef ever.
Keep in mind that this is a delicacy, so you won’t be served an enormous piece of meat. 4.5 oz looks like a very modest piece of meat, but it is to be savored.
Once you’ve ordered, the show begins. If you’re lucky, you can sit at the bar and watch the chef make the food. It’s very precise what they do.
The food is all cooked on the teppenyaki grill in front of you, so it becomes a little like lunch and a show. What an amazing way to spend a lunch. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.
Watch it sizzle:
How the Beef is Served
As you eat your appetizer and salad, the chef starts to prepare the meat by removing all the fat from around the piece of meat. He uses the trimmings to cook the vegetables, then to flavor the fried rice, which is itself a masterpiece and well worth the extra couple dollars.
The beef will then be served in a few slices on a plate with a pile of sea salt, rock salt, pepper, garlic chips, and spicy mustard to dip the beef in. A little goes a long way, but the right amount makes the flavor of the beef just explode in your mouth. Not only is it tremendously tender and rich, it’s absolutely bursting with flavor.
The beef was served with salt, pepper and fried garlic slices (Photo by Savored Journeys)The fried rice was insanely good too. It had little bits of that rendered beef cooked into, like little morsels of beef bacon. It was very good, but we didn’t want to fill up on fried rice.
After consuming all the beef they set out, we were definitely left wanting more. Luckily, they reserve a few more slices as a reward for when you start to feel like you might go crazy without just one more bite of that succulent beef. After you’ve eaten the grilled vegetables, you’re rewarded with a few more slices of heaven.
What to Expect from the Kobe Beef Experience
Here is what I have learned from my Kobe beef experience:
- I may never be able to forget that marbled piece of heaven melting one savored bite at a time in my mouth.
- I may never be able to forgive regular steak for requiring me to wield a knife to cut it, when Kobe steak succumbed so readily to my fork.
- I certainly will never be able to pay $70 for a regular steak that doesn’t even have an A anywhere in its pathetic grading system, when I know I could pay just $8 more and see stars when I chew.
I will always remember how amazing it was eating Kobe beef.
For more foodie things to do in Osaka, see our post on Dotonbori Street – one of the best street food destinations in the world. And if you’re planning to spend some time in Tokyo, we have a 3-day foodie itinerary that will help you tackle the many food possibilities in Tokyo.
One more thing — if you are planning to visit more places in Japan (like a round trip from Osaka to Tokyo), I highly recommend the Japan Rail Pass . Traveling in Japan can be expensive. The Rail Pass will save you a tremendous amount of time and money.
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries.
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KOBE LOCAL TOURS（神戸ローカルツアーズ）
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*currently unavailable* nada gogo’s first sake brewing experience & satisfying kobe beef tour -enjoy the city of gastronomy with all of the five senses-.
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What You’ll Experience (Tour Content Details)
Ota Sake Brewery with a history of over 200 years: The Chiyoda-gura not only allows visitors to enjoy “Japanese Sake”, but also the “SAKE” with the flavors and aroma of international ingredients to create a harmonious effect, in order to further enrich the changing dietary lifestyles of people overtime. At the sake brewery(Nada Gogo’s First!), we have created a tour where you can participate in the sake brewing process !
Nada Gogo: In Ota Sake Brewery’s Chiyoda-gura, you will not only learn about sake and its charms, but also take part in the sake brewing process with your own hands. You will also have the opportunity to experience the origin and connections of sake and food culture in the city of Sannomiya, Kobe, and enjoy the union of sake and Kobe beef. This is a unique opportunity for you to be involved in the sake making process and to fully enjoy the charm of sake and food culture. We look forward to your participation!
[About Nada Gogo: Ota Sake Brewery’s Chiyoda-gura] Ota Sake Brewery was founded by a descendant of “Ōta Dōkan”, an early founder of Edo Castle. It is said that the business began as a sake brewery to make effective use of good quality rice under the orders of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa Shogun of the Edo Shogunate. Since then, while developing sake brewing as a livelihood, the company established a sake brewery in Nada-Gogo in 1962 in search of the famous spring water. We have been developing our expertise exploring brewing techniques, and developing products that capture the seasons, which is the true enjoyment of Japanese sake.
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Please consider the following safety precautions for a pleasant tour experience.
- ・ Please come clean state on the day of the tour.
- ・ Please do not eat “natto”, “yogurt”, or “cheese” on the day of the tour.
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- ・ Long or fake nails are not allowed. Kindly cut them short before the tour.
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- ・ Please avoid consuming foods with strong smells (kimchi, etc.) from the day before the tour.
[Clothing during the Activities]
- (1) Please wear “T-shirts”, long pants”, and “sports shoes” on the day of the event. (Skirts and shoes with heels are not allowed.)
- (2) Please ware clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Your clothes may get dirty from the activities during the experience.
1. Make sure to bring your ID (passport, etc.) to the reception desk to verify your identity on the day of the event. 2. You will not be able to participate in the event if your name is different from the name on your application. 3. People under 20 years old are strictly prohibited from participating in the event. 4. Midway participation or withdrawal during the event is not permitted. 5. The event will be recorded and some photos will be taken for social networking purposes. If you do not wish to be filmed or photographed, please inform a staff member on the day of the event. 6. The tour may be cancelled or the tour content may be changed even after the reservation has been made due to local conditions, weather, natural disasters, strikes, or other unforeseen circumstances. In addition, the tour operator will not be held responsible for any damage or expenses incurred after the tour has started due to accidents outside of its control. 7. In case a participant misses the meeting time and cannot join the tour, the cancellation fee will be as specified in the cancellation policy. We will not be able to reschedule the tour date. Even if the participant is unable to join the tour due to delays in transportation, etc., cancellation fees will be charged as specified in the cancellation policy. 8.We are not responsible for any loss, damage, or theft during the tour. Please take care of your own luggage and personal belongings. 9. Participants are required to follow all instructions given by the tour guide or local staff, such as meeting times and prohibited activities. We reserve the right to terminate the contract with any participant who who engage in acts that cause a nuisance to others, even in the middle of the tour. Neither our company nor the tour operator will be held responsible for any damages or losses that you may incur as a result of the cancellation of the contract. 10. In case participants are unable to join the tour due to delays in airplanes, train schedules, or other transportation-related problems, we will not be held responsible for any loss caused by such circumstances.
Warning : Use of undefined constant … - assumed '…' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/xs345761/kobelocaltours.com/public_html/wp/wp-content/themes/kobe-local-tours/sidebar-tours.php on line 10 *Currently Unavailable* Nada Gogo’s First! Sake Brewing Experience & Satisfying …
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When you think of Japan’s most famous places, Kobe probably doesn’t make the top five. But if the country’s most underrated city happens to be on your bucket list, you’re in for a surprise. Join City Unscripted for food tours of Kobe that take you from forested mountains to a festive port, where the cuisine is bound to be spectacular wherever you eat it. Pull on your stretchiest pants and join a local guide to eat your way through Kobe’s most popular food spots. No matter where you end up – whether an upmarket eatery, a steakhouse serving marbled Kobe beef, a traditional market, or a no-frills standing bar – food tours in Kobe promise an unforgettable experience.
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Like the people who travel with us, they have different backgrounds and interests – but they’re all so passionate about the place they call home, they choose to spend their free time sharing it with the like-minded travelers matched to them.
Japan is a world culinary capital, and Kobe is one of the reasons for it (if you’ve experienced Kobe beef, you know why!). On Kobe food tours, we set you up with a local guide who’s spent years exploring their hometown’s food scene, and they’re 100% qualified to share the best of it with you. There are so many different ways to experience the city’s food and drink culture on Kobe food tours, from famous bakeries and cool cafés to trendy bars and ritzy restaurants – not to mention a couple of sake breweries! Just let us know what you’d like to eat and we’ll do the rest.
From sushi to ramen, you’ll find virtually all of Japan’s favorites in Kobe – but the city also has a few unique tricks hidden up its sleeve. On Kobe food tours, you’ll find there’s more to the city than world-famous beef. In fact, Kobe is filled with food experiences you couldn’t have anywhere else in the world. Feeling adventurous? Good, because food tours of Kobe can be anything but ordinary! You might try a 27-inch sausage on a mustard roll, or sample sand eels boiled in soy sauce. Bring an open mind and an empty stomach and who knows what culinary delights you could find?
On Kobe food tours with City Unscripted, we’ll make sure you squeeze in some sightseeing while sampling plenty of truly delicious bites. Your local host will point out some of the city’s top attractions while simultaneously giving you the perfect excuse to try some of the best food in Kobe. Book our “Eat like a local in Kobe” experience for a walking tour fueled by the freshest shellfish, mouthwatering bar snacks, local delicacies, and even some famous cheesecake! You’ll appreciate the beauty and history of the city while getting to know its one-of-a-kind food scene.
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It's great to be able to book an experienced private guide. Everything worked perfectly, the tour was perfect, perfectly tailored to my preferences and garnished with a wealth of knowledge. Es ist großartig, einen versierten privaten Reiseführer buchen zu können. Alles hat perfekt geklappt, die Führung war perfekt, super abgestimmt auf meine Vorlieben und mit reichlich Wissen garniert.
We had a fun day with Taiga as our guide in Kobe. We loved his flexibility and sense of humor. He arranged a last minute, delicious Kobe beef lunch for us at his favorite place.
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Michelle made sure we knew where to meet. She showed us many areas of the city and explained the significance and history of them. She made us feel like friends.
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Kobe Beef is known all over the world for being tender and full of flavour so, whichever way it is served, you are in for a treat!
Wagyu beef from Kobe is perhaps the most internationally famous of Japan's regional dishes. It's beef of the absolute highest quality; tender, full of flavour and melt in the mouth. The meat is produced from pedigree Tajima cattle raised in Hyogo Prefecture of which Kobe is the capital city. Kobe beef is a strictly guarded trademark and the meat, marbled with high levels of fat, must pass a stringent series of quality checks. There are many ways to eat Kobe beef: as steaks, shabu shabu slices or meat dipped in broth or in a sukiyaki hotpot. The InsideJapan team especially recommend dunking the beef steak in egg yolk. It's not cheap (a Kobe beef meal can cost 8,000 to 30,000 yen per person) but is certainly worth it. Please ask us to make you a Kobe beef restaurant recommendation or dinner reservation.
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For Foodies: Kobe Beef Japan
You have to try it to believe it!
For Foodies: Kobe Beef
If you like meat and particularly beef, you have to try Kobe Beef during your Japan holiday. It is distinguished as a tender, flavorful meat that is well marbled with fat.
One of the best ways to enjoy Kobe Beef is at a Teppanyaki restaurant, where a chef grills the meat on an iron plate in front of you. Prices vary depending on the establishment, but you can expect to pay a few thousand yen per hundred grams of beef, while a full meal at a Teppanyaki restaurant typically costs between 15,000 and 30,000 yen per person.
Don’t expect to see cows in Kobe city. It is produced from pedigreed Tajima breed cattle which were born and slaughtered in Hyogo Prefecture. Despite popular rumor, the cows are not usually fed beer or massaged with sake. Once slaughtered, the meat must pass a series of requirements and only the highest grades of meat with exceptionally high levels of fat marbling earn the Kobe Beef label, which is a strictly-guarded trademark.
Kobe Beef and other Japanese beef (wagyu) can be enjoyed all over Japan including Tokyo , Osaka , Kyoto and Kobe . Just let your Japan travel expert know that you want to include a reservation at a Kobe Beef restaurant as part of your tour.
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THE TRUTH AND POPULAR RUMORS ABOUT KOBE BEEF
Kobe Beef has fascinated the world for many years. Stories of beer-plied cattle getting daily massages to create the tenderest, best-marbled meat in the world have circulated across the globe, making this dish as mysterious as it is delicious. I finally got the chance to try a Kobe Beef dinner myself, and I'm here to report the reputation of this delicacy’s taste precedes it. However, I was surprised to learn that what I thought I knew about Kobe Beef isn’t the truth . Perhaps, like me, you’ve heard that the cattle get daily massages to keep the meat tender. Or you might have farmers give Kobe Beef cattle beer to fatten them up. When my partner and I went to the Suma Kagetsu House in Kobe for dinner, I leaned over to him and asked if the rumors were true. My partner cocked his head and said that he’d never heard this before. He asked the owner of Suma Kagetsu House, Takao Kanai, if it was true. Mr. Kanai quickly shook his head and let me know that the stories are completely false. I felt a little embarrassed, but Mr. Kanai assured me even Japanese people who live outside of Kobe believe the rumors too. He then answered my questions, such as….
HOW IS KOBE BEEF IS MADE? AND WHERE IS KOBE BEEF FROM?
Japan has several types of high-grade beef, collectively known as wagyu . Kobe Beef is a type of wagyu that, like Champagne for France, is from Kobe . Specifically, Japanese Black Cows born and bred in Hyogo Prefecture. Japanese farmers have long preferred this breed for their broad shoulders, plowing strength, and ability to fare well in mountainous environments. For beef, Japanese Black Cows genetically produce more fat than other cattle, which gives their meat that gorgeous marbling. The life of a Japanese Black Cow is different from lower-grade beef cows. Farmers and vendors carefully track each cow's pedigree from birth to slaughter, because the genealogy is so consequential. On the farms, Japanese Black Cows live in the most stress-free environments as possible. Family units are kept together, mothers and calves are given wide ranges to pasture in, and penned cows reaching the end of their lives stay in roomy barns with cleaner conditions than what most beef cattle experience. Kobe Beef farmers believe that a happy life helps create the most delicious cuts of beef.
DO FARMERS REALLY GIVE KOBE BEEF CATTLE BEER?
Though there are reports that some farmers do indeed massage their cows, daily massages done by teams of people are quite far from the norm. Farmers might massage their cows, but not to “pre-tenderize” the meat. Any sort of massage is only done so to relieve any stress a cow might be experiencing. As for that beer rumor, this seems to be just that… a total rumor. There are a few reports that some farmers might give their cows a bottle of beer in the hot and humid months between August and September if the cows don’t have an appetite. However, these claims are so few and far between this practice is either extremely rare or just plain false. Most farmers say they would never imagine giving their cows beer or sake , nor do they know anyone who does this in any fashion. Besides the breed and upbringing, the beef must fulfill certain qualities to earn the "Kobe Beef" label.
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT KOBE BEEF?
1. The cow’s lineage is purely from the Tajima-gyu line and from Hyogo Prefecture. 2. The beef is certified to have a yield score of A or B. 3. The Japanese Meat Grading Association gives the beef a quality score of 4 or 5. 4. The marbling has a grade 6 or higher on a 1-12 scale. If the beef satisfies all of these requirements, it gets the "Japanese Chrysanthemum" seal, and vendors can sell it domestically under the official Kobe Beef title. If it doesn't get this award, however, it might go to the international market with a label that says its Kobe Beef, but it isn't exactly authentic. If you're in the United States, for example, you'll get some impressively delicious fare, but what you get outside of Japan most likely isn't the real deal!
HOW IS KOBE BEEF SERVED?
Chefs can prepare Kobe Beef in several different ways. One of the most popular recipes is to boil it in a Japanese stew called Sukiyaki . Families often make this at home because it’s a simple and warm treat. If you want to eat Kobe Beef in its purest form, consider ordering a steak. It’s said that Kobe Beef is best eaten at a medium-rare temperature, but in my experience cooking it a little more doesn’t take away from the soft texture. Or, you can go the opposite way and eat it as bloody as possible by ordering your Kobe Beef sashimi style. The meat isn’t entirely raw, but it will be cold and cooked only long enough to kill any possible bacteria on the surface. But a real treat for eating Kobe Beef is going to a Teppanyaki restaurant. Foreign people to Japan might recognize the word Hibachi when thinking about Japanese-style steakhouses. Technically, when a chef cooks in front of you over a propane gas range, this is Teppanyaki . Hibachi is similar, but Hibachi actually means that the chefs cook over an open-flame grill! Have you been using these terms wrong? I know I have! Note: Some may be intimidated by the price of Kobe Beef. The cost has been rising every year due to the small population of pedigreed cattle, and the increasing exportation of Kobe Beef to other countries. There are, however, some places where you can still get a fair price for a meal!
Thinly Sliced Strips of Kobe Beef on a Hibachi Grill
MY FIRST KOBE BEEF STEAK DINNER
My dinner came as a set including rice, miso soup, pickled and roasted vegetables, sashimi-style fish, and tofu topped with salmon roe .
The beef was served to me in unbelievably thin strips and simply seasoned with a little salt and pepper. Even in these portioned sizes, you can see how much fat is captured in every little bite.
The beef was raw, but we didn’t eat it sashimi-style. Next to our trays sat these small, personal grills heated with flames underneath. We greased them with blocks of fat, cooked our meat as perfectly as we could, and dipped the slices into one of three sauces.
They say that Kobe Beef tastes best when cooked medium-rare, but I admit that I sometimes left my meat on my grill a little too long. Unlike my other experiences with eating beef, however, overcooking it didn’t ruin the consistency or taste. I can only describe Kobe Beef as the softest meat you’ll ever eat. On my first serving, I bit down a little too hard, expecting to need to tear off a morsel from my strip. My teeth clacked in surprise as the beef had almost already split before I closed my mouth entirely. I tried to chew slowly and savor it, but it seemed to melt almost immediately. I can’t wait for the chance to come across this delicacy again, and I couldn’t recommend it more. The next time you find yourself in Kobe, Japan, don’t pass up on the opportunity to try Kobe Beef!
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The best things to do in Kobe, Japan for an epic 72-hour adventure
Kobe may not be as large as Tokyo or as famous as Kyoto, but this Japanese port city has a lot to offer. A food and history lover’s paradise set against the backdrop of rolling mountains and glittering sea, Kobe makes a fantastic destination on any tour of Japan. When you join us on the Kobe extension of our Japan for Solo Travelers: Tokyo, Mt. Fuji & Kyoto tour (one of our bucket list tours for 2023 ), you’ll have three days to experience all of the best things to do in Kobe, Japan.
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Kobe (�_��, Kōbe) is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and one of Japan's ten largest cities . Located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe is also considered one of Japan's most attractive cities.
Kobe has been an important port city for many centuries. Its port was among the first to be opened to foreign trade in the 19th century alongside the ports of Yokohama , Nagasaki , Hakodate and Niigata.
In 1995, Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake , which killed over 5000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Today the city is completely rebuilt, and few signs of the terrible event remain.
Top attractions in Kobe
Kobe Beef •
Arima Onsen •
Earthquake Museum •
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Hyogo Museum of Art
Kobe City Museum
Getting there and around
Questions? Ask in our forum .
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Hotels around kobe.