The famous Kobe beef, a meat delicacy that’s known for its flavor, tenderness, and well-marbled texture. True Kobe beef – not the fake “Kobe” beef in America – comes from Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, so it’s only right to experience it while on my Japan trip.
Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511, a restaurant located in Minato-ku, Tokyo, is the restaurant my group and I decided to go to for our Kobe beef exploration. We ordered the “Complete Kobe Beef Course,” an 8-course meal with 7 dishes that use Kobe beef in some way. The dishes include:
- Stewed bamboo shoot and grilled Kobe beef
- Seasonal appetizer
- Clam and steamed seafood dumpling in dashi (soup)
- Season vegetables, fish, and Kobe beef tempura
- Kobe beef sushi
- Flame-baked Kobe beef steak
- Green tea soba noodles
Stewed Bamboo Shoot & Grilled Kobe Beef
My excitement was through the roof when this dish came out. This was my intro dish to Kobe beef and I’m glad it was because it was tasty! The beef was unbelievably tender and practically melts in your mouth. The bamboo shoots were great as well when mixed with the sauce the dish came with.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember what each part of the appetizers was, but I do remember that the shrimp dish (top-left) stuck out to me. I believe it was shrimp and Kobe beef with some sort of mayo-based (?) sauce. I’m not a big fan of seafood, but the shrimp dish was delicious. The cool part of the appetizer is that the “sakura petals” scattered around are actually edible. How cool is that?!
Clam & Steamed Seafood Dumpling in Dashi
Again, I’m not a fan of seafood so when I heard that it’s a seafood dumpling, I was a bit skeptical about whether I would like the dish. To my surprise, it was actually really good! There isn’t much to say about the clam other than it was decent. The dumpling, on the other hand, was awesome! It’s made of shrimp and white fish with Kobe beef (!) in the center. Somehow, the beef is still super tender and juicy even though it’s inside a dumpling.
Season Vegetables, Fish, & Kobe Beef Tempura
I’m going to start off by saying that this was my second favorite dish from the 8-course meal. Honestly, it tastes like what you’d expect from a beef tempura, but even so, it was delicious! If Kobe beef wasn’t so expensive, I can totally see myself munching on Kobe beef tempura as finger food at a bar or social event. So yummy!
Kobe Beef Sushi
This dish was pretty much what I expected: rice wrapped in Kobe beef. One is citrus flavored and the other is soy sauce flavored. Even with the sauce, it didn’t blow me away. That’s not to say that it wasn’t good because the meat was still unbelievably tender, but it wasn’t blasted with flavor.
Flame-Baked Kobe Beef Steak
This dish was the bomb! The Kobe beef steak came with a soy sauce mousse that’s to be used on the meat. My initial bite was to have a bite of the meat without the mousse, then try it with the mousse. Let me just say that taking my first bite without the mousse was a mistake. It tastes so freaking good with the mousse. I have never tasted something that made me want time to slow down just so I can enjoy the flavor a little longer. This dish made the entire 8-course meal.
Green Tea Soba Noodles
This was probably my least favorite dish of the night. I couldn’t really taste any green tea from the noodles, and the taste of the Kobe beef bits from the white leaf-shaped dish was pretty much non-existent. It was pretty forgettable, to be quite honest.
Not to state the obvious, but in case you were wondering, the dessert doesn’t have Kobe beef in it.
If I remember correctly, the dessert consists of sakura-flavored pudding, strawberries, and some sort of red bean thing. It was an okay dish so that’s probably why I don’t remember much from it.
So did Kobe beef live up to the hype? I would most absolutely say so! Now I understand why everyone that has tasted it before raves about it so much. It’s definitely the tenderest and also the tastiest meat I’ve ever had. I’ll be dreaming about the Kobe beef steak with soy sauce mousse for days to come.
If you are looking into trying out Kobe beef in the Tokyo area, look into Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511. It’s pretty pricey (¥13,800 + service charge), but that’s to be expected when ordering Kobe beef. You’re also paying for world-class service and classy atmosphere so, in my opinion, the price reflects what you’re getting in return.