June 28, 2007 at 5:46 pm | Posted in food, spectacle | 3 Comments

So… is anyone but me surprised that, among all the photos from my week in Japan, only a small handful are of anything but food? Honestly, I did try to capture a more complete picture of my time there, but of course you can’t take photos inside the shrines and temples, or in the museums, or during any of the six hours(!) of Kabuki theater I attended, as gorgeous as it all was. And I figure you guys have probably all seen photos of Harajuku girls and neon-plastered buildings, so really… what was left?


Kobe Beef

Even back in the States, I had heard stories about Kobe beef — how the cows are fed beer, massaged with sake, and the meat itself is so marbled it offers no resistance to knife or teeth. So of course I was dying to try it, but even in Japan, this is easier said than done. There are steak joints all over the place, but which ones would give me the truest version of the experience I craved? And in a country with unreadable street signs and an absence of numbered addresses, even recommendations aren’t too useful.

Nevertheless, after an hour or so of wandering around Kyoto’s nightlife district, my mother finally answered the question that plagued so many American television viewers in 1984. “Aha,” she proclaimed, “so there’s the beef.”

Raw Beef

That’s the plate of beef they brought us at Misono, a restaurant famed for inventing the teppanyaki style of steak preparation. It’s certainly a more dramatic technique than you’ll find in any French bistro, as it involves a personal chef coming to your table, then chopping and cooking the beef right in front of you on a vast table-top grill.

Kobe Beef Teppanyaki!

Once it’s done, they sort of push it toward you (no plates) and you eat it directly off the grill with your chopsticks. And to keep you from feeling like some crazed carnivorous beast, they also supply you with an assortment of grilled vegetables, a heap of bean sprouts, and a plate of cinnamon bread.

Cinammon Bread

Yeah, I have no idea. Apparently this coffee cake resembling item is considered an appropriate garniture for teppanyaki.

But enough about the bread. Was the steak any good? Readers, it was. Perhaps not the most intensely flavored cut of meat you’ve ever had, but luscious, sweet, and delectable… kind of like steak-flavored pudding. Just the thing to bring tears to your eyes next time you find yourself sawing through a gristle-y bavette at your neighborhood cafe.

Wow, I totally didn’t mean to devote this entire post to one meal. I guess the Kaiseki and okonomiyaki will have to wait for another day.



  1. I love kobe beef. I would marry kobe beef. In fact, I would marry kobe beef and then honeymoon in Kobe, Japan where I would dine upon yet more kobe beef.

    I like it raw.

  2. Oooh, lucky! I wasn’t in Japan long enough to try it more than once… I really wanted to do shabu-shabu and sashimi style, but it was not to be, unfortunately.

  3. Now, THERE’S some meat I’d like to sink my teeth into… Man, you’ve got my mouth watering, Amy! Someday, someday… I will make it to Japan.

    In the meantime, I will continue drooling over your Kobe beef photos.

    (And BTW, I adore the “Where’s the beef” reference — classic!)

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