If you like a cut above the rest, you really need to try Kobe beef in Japan! It’s even better when the price of Kobe beef is reasonable.
From scrumptious beef bowls to Wagyu steaks, here are three restaurants serving up great lunches of Kobe beef in Kobe. They are sure to meet your expectations in terms of budget, quality, and quantity.
What is Kobe Beef?
There are several types of beef, but it’s said that the Kobe brand is the best. The rich natural environment of the Tajima mountainous region in the northern part of Hyogo Prefecture together with the meticulous care of the livestock breeders results in the beautiful marbling for which Kobe beef is famous. When grilled, the marbling melts and gives the beef an exquisitely tender flavor and texture.
There are many restaurants in the vicinity of the JR Sannomiya Station in Kobe where you can enjoy authentic Kobe beef in Japan. Here we will focus on three that offer reasonably priced lunches serving that wildly wonderful wagyu beef.
1. Kobe Steak Sai Dining: The teppanyaki chef puts on a dynamic display
Our first recommendation is Kobe Steak Sai Dining that is renowned for its teppanyaki counters where you can watch the chef prepare dishes. It is located in the basement of a building one road in from the main road, about a 10-minute walk in a westerly direction from Sannomiya Station.
Inside the Kobe beef restaurant, there are three teppanyaki counters. In addition to them, there is also a sofa table section that can seat 8 people and the whole interior has a very spacious feel to it. The stylish monotone hues of the interior make for a very relaxing atmosphere for enjoying Kobe beef in Japan.
I ordered the Carefully Selected Kobe Beef Steak A Course (80 g) which is the most popular lunch course. Even though it's lunch, this is a solid course consisting of a pottage of seasonal vegetables, a colorful salad of seasonal grilled vegetables, a choice of rice or bread to go with the main course of Kobe steak, and coffee or tea! And all at the amazingly reasonable price of less than 4,000 yen.
This establishment prides itself on its fine selection of seasonal vegetables that are full of flavor. Before preparing the meal, the chef explains about the vegetables, such as where they were produced.
Primarily local vegetables are used, however, other really delicious ones are also selected. All the colorful vegetables are also very appealing to the eye.
The chef carefully grills the vegetables and puts them on the plate with perfect timing. Dipping them into Andean rock salt, the naturally subtle sweetness of the vegetables is simply and directly conveyed.
Then comes the main entre. The beef is cooked flambé using brandy! The flambé performance was quite impressive and not something you normally see.
So if you like, you can take a video of the chef cooking. The teppan [iron grill] is 3 cm. thick. The fire is lit beneath the grill before the store opens in order that the temperature of it can be kept at a constant so as to ensure the best flavor when grilling. Watching the chef cook can be mesmerizing and before you know it, the beef is grilled to perfection and ready to eat.
Just look at how perfectly the meat has been cooked. The meat is so soft and tender that it dissolves in your mouth after only a few bites. The umami of the highest grade A5 wagyu beef explodes with flavor the moment you put it in your mouth.
It is simply seasoned with salt and pepper plus there is a hint of the brandy flambé. The true flavor of the authentic Japanese wagyu beef is able to be experienced because it is not overly seasoned.
Garlic chips are also served with the slices of beef. If you prefer, you can also dip the beef into the Andean rock salt or Ponzu sauce containing naoshichi, which is often called a “phantom citrus fruit”. Naoshichi is a citrus grown in Kochi Prefecture and has a perfectly balanced sweet and sour taste. The Ponzu mellows the fat in the beef so that it does not taste too rich.
This Kobe beef restaurant has been mentioned in foreign media so there are many foreign visitors from Taiwan and elsewhere. This is a restaurant you definitely should visit if you want to taste the pinnacle of rare and expensive beef brands at a very reasonable price.
Kobe Steak Sai Dining神戸牛ステーキ 彩ダイニング
- Address Cosmo Bldg. B1, 3-1-9, Shimoyamatedori, Chuo-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture
- Phone Number 078-331-5638
Open: 11:30 a.m. ~ 3:00 p.m. (L.O. 2:00 p.m.), 5:30 p.m. ~ 10:30 p.m. (Last order 9:00 p.m.) *In December only open from 11:30 a.m. ~ 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Open until 11:30 p.m. During the Kobe Luminairie and Christmas times
Closed: December 31 and January 1
2. Hiroshige: Famous local restaurant serving up Kobe Beef Bowls!
Hiroshige is the next Kobe beef restaurant we will introduce and is popular among people in the know. It is located about a 10-minute walk north of Sannomiya Station.
Wow! Look at the line! These fans of Kobe beef are even willing to wait outside in the rain for it. Such a shop as this is called Urikiri Gomen, which literally translates as “sorry, we’re all sold out” because that is what often happens due to its popularity.
When it has served all the meat it had on hand in the day time, the shop closes in the evening. It is even more popular than rumors would lead one to believe.
Hiroshige is a Kobe beef bowl specialty restaurant that uses only Japanese Kobe beef. There are only three things on the menu: gyudon beef bowl, egg, and beer. Such determined simplicity is really gutsy.
There is always a line of customers eager to eat this high-quality Kobe beef bowl.
And this is the Kobe gyudon beef bowl we have been waiting for. The sweet fragrance of the secret sauce and steam rising from the bowl will make your mouth water!
There are so many slices of the lightly grilled beef that you can’t see the rice beneath it. And on top of that there are beefsteak plant leaves and green onions.
First take a slice or two with your chopsticks and dip them in the beaten raw egg. The meat is juicy and really tender. More than your typical beef bowl, it is more like the beef served in an expensive sukiyaki restaurant. The large slices of beef make this a luxurious dish.
The master of the shop recommends pouring the egg over the ingredients in the bowl. This is another delicious way of eating it and well worth trying. The sauce is soy-sauce based, but has a reserved flavor. It’s not all that sweet and as a result the full flavor of the beef is not diminished.
Kanzuri, a fermented seasoning made from red pepper, is used in the sauce as a kakushiaji - a secret ingredient added to give a subtle flavor - and this gives it a piquant flavor. This really gives the richly marbled beef a refreshing taste.
The manager, Mr. Hishii, has an interesting background with 19 years of experience working in a number of Italian restaurants in Hyogo Prefecture.
With twenty years of experience as a chef, he wondered if it were not possible to create a beef bowl, which is popular with everyone, using high-quality beef and offered at a reasonable price and that was the inspiration for his shop Hiroshige which opened in 2012.
To use Kobe beef in a beef bowl was an epoch-making decision because in the minds of everyone beef bowls were considered to be a type of fast food.
At Hiroshige attention is paid to not making large amounts of ingredients and letting them sit, but to pay close attention to the timing of the cooking and presentation of each dish. Close attention is also paid to selection of marbled beef that is not too fatty.
Ordering the beef in quantity also contributes to lower prices. When he worked in Italian restaurants they all had large kitchen staffs, but at Hiroshige he does everything himself to avoid personnel costs. Doing everything by himself, from taking orders to preparing the dishes and serving the customers has to be a lot of hard work, but which makes it easy to feel the strong spirit of the master in this shop.
Without doing any kind of advertising but relying only on word-of-mouth, the popularity spread so that now it is frequently an object of TV and media coverage. Many of the customers are visitors from abroad as well as those on business trips to Kobe who always make it a point to visit. Once you taste the beef bowl it is easy to see why.
If you ever have the chance to try it, you'll see why customers do not mind waiting a long time to be served.
Kobe Beef Bowl Hiroshige神戸牛丼 広重
- Address Maekawa Bldg. 1F, 1-22-21, Nakayamatedori, Chuo-ku, Kobe City
- Phone Number 078-222-6611
Open: 11:00 a.m. ~ 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. ~ 11:00 p.m. (Shop closes when beef is sold out)
Closed: no set schedule
3. Kobe Steak Propeller: Serving up quality Kobe beef in Japan in a casual setting
Kobe Steak Propeller, the third Kobe beef restaurant we recommend, is a 5-minute walk from Sannomiya Station, a little way down from the Kobe International House. It has a reputation for serving delicious Kobe steaks in a casual and relaxed atmosphere.
From the outside it looks more like a cute cafe than a Japanese steakhouse.
The interior, decorated with many small antiques, has a very at-home warm atmosphere. At the same time it exudes class and feels like someone’s home.
The thick cuts of wagyu steak cooked medium rare are unbelievably tender. And the lean meat has a wonderful texture. You’ll want to savor every bite of these delicious, thick cuts of delicious Japanese wagyu beef.
The meat and garnish are served on a single plate, and the presentation is like that in a Western-style restaurant. The steak is cut in easy to eat slices and the table is set with knife and fork as well as with chopsticks. The chef recommends eating the steak with chopsticks.
The meat is only slightly seasoned so that the natural flavor of the beef is not subdued. It comes with three types of condiment: rose salt, onion sauce, and peanut sauce. The chef recommends the peanut sauce that is made with peanut butter. It has a slightly sweet spicy flavor that brings out the flavor of the beef.
Here the beef is not cooked on a teppan [iron skillet] but on a grill.
According to Chef Takahara, because the marbling of the beef is so fine, when grilled a lot of the excess fat drips off making for a healthier serving. Grilling seals in the flavor more, too.
The chef recommends chewing the steak with a sip of wine. In addition to the local Kobe wine, there are 30 other types of different foreign wines also available.
The interior is decorated with several paintings. Among them are works by Yayoi Kusama who is famous among painting fans. South of the restaurant and nearby is a painting school, so painting enthusiasts often eat here.
Tourists come as well for some of the tasty Kobe beef in Japan, and the sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere makes it very popular with local ladies. Propeller offers fine quality beef in a good old-fashioned casual atmosphere. Be sure to visit it during your visit to Kobe.
Kobe Steak Propeller神戸ステーキ プロペラ
- Address 8-1-14, Isogamidori, Chuo-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture
- Phone Number 078-862-3972
Open: Weekdays 11:00 a.m. ~ 3:00 p.m. (L.O. 3:00 p.m.), 5:00 p.m. ~ 9:30 p.m. (L.O. 9:30 p.m)
Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 11:00 a.m. ~ 9:30 p.m. (L.O. 9:30 p.m.) *lunch menu served until 3:00 p.m.
Closed: always open
When in Rome do as the Romans do. When in Kobe, eat Kobe beef! When you visit Kobe, be sure to visit one of the many great establishments that serve Kobe beef in Japan.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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