Mike and I took a little trip to Kobe before we stopped in Tokyo for the majority of our stay in Japan. It was a fun, vibrant, compact city – perfect for walking and easing into the Japanese way of life. We spent most of our time wandering and eating, of course.
Our first stop, after dropping our luggage off at the hotel, was a place for Kobe beef. Mike wasn’t so keen (he thinks the hype is a little too intense) but I couldn’t resist, the thought of eating Kobe beef in Kobe was too much for me. There were signs everywhere (in English) shouting out the awesomeness of the beef — I was powerless. We hit up Mouriya for a steak lunch set. Mike chose the A5 sirloin and I chose the rib eye so we could get two different steak-experiences. It was a fun lunch, teppan-style where the chef cooks in front of you. The steaks were juicy, incredibly marbled and full of that famed beef-y Kobe flavor, but in the end, I agreed with Mike: Kobe steak is kinda sort of hype-d up. We both agreed, we’d much rather go to our favorite yakiniku place in Tokyo, where the beef is from Satsuma (in the Kagoshima Prefecture on Kyushu Island).
With our beef craving satisfied, we moved on because even though Kobe is known for wagyu, they’re also known for other regional specialties that I wasn’t aware of before visiting. Highlights were gyoza and akashiyaki. Gyoza, in Japan, is considered a Chinese dish (much like ramen); they’re loosely based on potstickers but there are distinct differences. Gyoza have a thinner skin and a much more loose filling. Just like Chinese jiaozi, they come boiled or fried. You can find them all over Japan, but the ones in Kobe are known for the miso dipping sauce. Each gyoza house has it’s own secret blend that you can use to dip as is, or mix liberally with soy and vinegar.
The other regional specialty we tried were akashiyaki. Technically akashiyaki aren’t from Kobe, they’re from the city of Akashi, about 30 minutes away by car. Still, Kobe has several shops dedicated to selling the light and fluffy egg based octopus dumplings. They’re somewhat similar to takoyaki, in that they both have octopus and are round in shape, but that’s where the similarities end. Akashiyai are the fluffiest eggs you’ll ever eat in ball form, hiding a nugget of tender octopus. They come in orders of ten, on a wooden board, with a teapot of dashi. To eat, you pop one into a bowl, pour some dashi on and go to town. They also come with greens, sauce, and shichimi togarashi, if you want to make it a party. They’re absolutely delicious and I’m kind of sad we only ate them twice.
Hopefully we’ll be back there some day. If you end up going, please eat some akashiyaki for me!
Address: 1−31−37 Kitanagasadori, Chuo Ward, Kobe
Address: Sun Plaza B1 1-5-2 Sannomiyacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe
Mouriya Honten Steakhouse
Address: 2-1-17 Shimoyamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe
Address: 1−31−33 Kitanagasadori, Chuo Ward, Kobe
Takoyaki Tachibana San Plaza Shop
Address: San Plaza B1 1-5-2 Sannomiyacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe
Tako no Tsubo
Address: 3-3-3 Sannomiya, Chuo Ward, Kobe
Address: 4-6-15 Ikutacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe
Hours: 10am-7pm, closed Wednesdays
Address: 2-9-5 Kita Nagasadori, Chuo-Ku, Kobe