Famous Kobe Beef at 大井肉店 Oi Butcher, Kobe Japan
What will you do when you are in Osaka which is just a few kilometres away from the world famous beef producing city Kobe? Of course we will go there and try out their infamous Kobe beef.
A deer with the backdrop of the gate entrance of Todaiji Temple in Nara.
We were travelling to the deer city of Nara on the second day of our trip to Kansai Japan and we decided to have our dinner in Kobe. This was our first time traveling in Japan and we were on our own. We relied on the information we researched from the Internet and the station names to travel around within Kansai.
For the best and cheapest way to travel around in Kansai, we recommend the Kansai Thru Pass or also known as Kansai Surutto Pass. A three day pass cost only 5,000 Yen (RM 200 / US$ 67) and you can travel to most places in Kansai with most busses, trains and subways except JR trains. Please do ask the availability of the usage of the pass before you travel around. For our traveling experiences in Kobe, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka, we had no problem using unlimited train, subway and bus rides.
Changing trains or subway trains are common for travelers in Kansai Japan.
For our crazy idea to have Kobe beef for dinner, we travelled from Nara to Kobe via train with two stops (we will blog in details later on tips to take train from Nara to Kobe) with a journey of one and half hour. We got our route information via the Tourist Information Center at Nara (Kintetsu) Train Station.
To make our journey more interesting, our trip to Kobe was unplanned so we had no idea where to get the best Kobe beef. With the help of a few restaurants and bars, we were recommended to go to大井肉店.
It was 8pm and the temperature was around 5 degree Celsius and we were cold and hungry. We managed to find the restaurant based on the indications (he tried to explain in English but we didn’t understand what he was saying) by the bar owner.
The 大井肉店 restaurant, please check out the map below or print it out with you want to go there.
We went to the fourth floor where they served the best steak in city and probably in the world. The restaurant owns the whole building but only the fourth and fifth floors used as restaurants.
The interior looks like a classic Western-like restaurant with teppanyaki grill on each table.
Menu at 大井肉店
We were given the menu to order and it was not cheap. A 200 gram of Kobe Beef cost around 15,000 Yen ( RM 600 / US$ 200) per set. We ordered two sets of 200 gram of Kobe Beef and they were not that pleasant when we wanted to share it among ourselves, there were four of us.
Check out the marble-like texture of the meat.
We were introduced to our chef as he showed us the 400 gram sirloin Kobe Beef before he cooked it. You can see the details of the marbling texture of the meat. Only Kobe beef and Wagyu beef have such texture on their meat. On the other note, we managed to start a conversation with him and he told us that he was humbled to have us as his guests when I told him that we are Malaysians.
He apologized to us as he had to share the set for us as I think we broke their tradition of no food sharing in this restaurant. He told us that 大井肉店 was established in 1871 as a beef seller. The restaurant has now a history of 141 years and counting!
He started off with toasting the bread. We thought it was the appetizer but it was not. The bread was lightly toasted with butter and served onto our plate but the chef told us to wait.
The appetizer was a small piece of beef quiche.
Next was a fresh bowl of salad. The greens were interestingly topped with sesame seed and sesame oil. The sesame oil can be easily purchased in Japanese supermarket such as Isetan or Jusco in Malaysia.
Then we have the pan fried vegetables of pumpkin, mushroom, red pepper, radish and konnyaku (light green).
Konnyaku is a healthy Japanese food with jelly-like texture. We were surprised that they pan fried the konnyaku, this was our first time having a pan fried konnyaku.
Finally, the chef brought out the beef again to cook. The chef asked us how we wanted our beef cooked. We all agreed for medium rare. Look at how the meat sizzles!
Firstly, he cut off the fats of the beef and he put it aside.
Then, he cut the beef to a few strips and he pan fried it (teppanyaki style).
The chef slowly awaits the beef to be cooked.
He let it cooked for a few minutes and to our amazement, he cut it to cube sizes and served it to us.
The beef was cooked up to our expectation.
He served the cube-size beef on top of the toasted bread.
That was our first time having beef with a toasted bread!
That wasn’t over. The excessive beef fats he cut earlier on was then used to cook with bean sprout (taugeh) and spring onion.
Like the usual teppanyaki, he pan fried the bean sprout and the beef together and served it thin slices of fried garlic.
After the long wait, I wanted to eat the toasted bread first but the chef said the bread must be eaten last! Slowly, we put the beef into our mouth. The meat melts in the mouth and the taste warmth my heart. We ate the beef without any seasoning to enjoy the juiciness of the meat. Legend says that the taste of having Kobe beef is similar of flying. Hence, we roughly understand the meaning of the flying. The meat was so soft and tender and it melted in the mouth. The proper word for the experience should be “heavenly”. They served a small glass of red wine to pair it with the beef but we ordered additional Asahi beef for the evening.
The beef teppanyaki with bean sprout was also a class of its own. The bean sprout pan fried to perfection and coated with the fragrant beef oil. However we do prefer our own Malaysian Ipoh’s bean sprout as the Japanese bean sprout was softer and smaller in size.
For the toasted bread, they brought us a very light cream cheese. As we tasted the bread, we can taste hints of butter, the cream cheese and the taste of the Kobe beef. The chef purposely put the beef on top of the bread to let additional beef oil sunk into the bread. That was really smart.
There will be no happy ending without a cup of aromatic hot coffee.
We travelled one and half hour from Nara to Kobe for the best beef in the world and we accomplished it. Although it was expensive but the experience and the taste of it will remained in our heart and memory forever. This trip was all about experiencing Japan and we enjoyed it!
大井肉店 Address, Map and Contact:
No. 2, No. 5, 7-chome, Chuo-ku Kobe, Hyogo 元町通 〒 650-0022
Kobe, 7-2-5 TEL078 元町通 〒 650-0022-351-1011 / FAX078-351-5494 (Japanese)
How to get to大井肉店:
5 minutes walk from Hanshin Kobe Nishimoto, 1 minute walk from JR Station (Motomachi Shopping Street directions)
View 大井肉店 Famous Kobe Beef in a larger map