If you’ve heard of Kobe, Japan, you’ve probably heard of Kobe Beef 神戸ビーフ. The city is famous for many things, it’s iconic night views, jazz music, cafes, and when it comes to cuisine, the most famous beef in the world.
Kobe beef refers to beef from the Tajima strain of Wagyu cattle, raised in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture according to rules as set out by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association. The meat is a delicacy renowned for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture (from Wikipedia).
Many people who visit Kobe really want to have the Kobe beef experience and normally, it’s an expensive one. There are of course restaurants throughout the city that serve the beef and they vary in prices. Some start at 5,000¥ a plate and others start at more than 10,000¥ a plate. It’s premium meat and it normally comes at a premium price.
If you are planning to visit Kobe on holiday or pass through on a day trip, you can give Kobe Beef a try without breaking the bank.
If you make your way to Kobe’s Chinatown, Nankinmachi there are several Kobe Beef vendors who sell it in small portions for tourists who simply want a sample.
In the nine years I’ve lived in Kobe, I’ve only had Kobe Beef twice. The first time was simply by accident. I worked in a place that had a festival with a stand selling Kobe Beef in small portions. At the end of the day, when the festival was over, I was there cleaning up with other staff and the chef announced that they had left-over beef and would anyone want it. I think I drop-kicked one person, straight-armed another while fighting my way to the stand. I then was able to savor two amazing servings of the beef.
Another time I literally won two steaks in a raffle at a year end part for work. The uncooked steaks were couriered to my house and my wife (an amazing chef) nervously prepared them to perfection.
I have kept away from eating Kobe Steak at restaurants because of the cost.
Recently I was giving a walking tour of Kobe to a visiting YouTuber and we explored Chinatown. He wanted to try Kobe Beef so I showed him a number of shops that served small samples.
We ate at the shop with Spiderman on the roof. There are several with Spiderman keeping them safe! The most affordable sample is 1,000¥ for “Kobe Beef red meat”, but I would recommend spending 1,500¥ for the “tender red meat.” It’s a very small serving (60g), but it is a premium meat. It’s a great way to say, “I had Kobe Beef” and not break the bank!
If you are in Kobe, on a budget, but really want to try this iconic meat, head to Chinatown and give it a try!
Kevin O’Shea is the host of the Just Japan Podcast. He is also the guy behind JustJapanStuff. Kevin is a Canadian educator who lives in Kobe, Japan with his family.
Follow him on Twitter: @madformaple