Kobe Beef at Steakland: Not Life-Changing, but Worth a Trip
Vegetarians. Back slowly away from this post. I can’t promise what will happen to you if you don’t…
Because you can’t really call what we ate in Kobe, something as simple as steak. At least not in the way I’ve always thought of it. Hubby’s cut of beef was so tender and evenly marbled with fat that it literally melted in my mouth, leaving only the aftertaste of a meat so exceptional, it’s hard to describe with mere words.
I’ve wanted to sink my teeth into a juicy Japanese steak for as long as I can remember – ever since I’d read a somewhat unbelievable story about cows that are fed beer, massaged for hours and listen to classical music. All in the quest for the most tender stress-free meat possible.
So as soon as we booked our tickets to Osaka/Kyoto, I knew that a little side trip to Kobe to eat Kobe beef at its source was going to happen. Never mind that we were travelling with a vegan.
I spent a fair bit of time researching all the potential places we could indulge our meat fantasies, and narrowed it down to Steakland or Wakkoqu based on this blog post. A steak that’s life-changing? Sounded pretty good to me, but in the end, Wakkoqu’s $150 price tag deterred me, and we ended up at the much more reasonable, but still excellently reviewed Steakland.
Steakland is a few floors full of teppanyaki style seating, set up so that everyone can have a view of what the chef is up to. After some debate, and more than a little confusion while we tried to find out exactly which part of the cow each meal came with, I settled on the Kobe Lunch Set, and Agri ordered the more expensive Sirloin Lunch Set. The idea being that we would try each other’s steaks to compare, and save a bit of cash in the process.
The steaks we ordered appeared long before someone to cook them did, and we spent a bit of time staring at their juicy redness, dreaming about how delicious they would be, before we actually got to eat them. Even raw, the beef looked different than anything I’ve seen before, with a pinkish cast and threads of fat throughout.
Our chef finally appeared, shyly introduced himself, cleaned the hot plate, then grilled some sliced garlic to crispy perfection, followed by bean sprouts, shimeji mushrooms and green pumpkin. We were asked if we wanted our steak rare, or medium rare – with no higher choice offered. The chef then sliced, diced and carefully prepared each morsel of meat with absolute precision to the exact level of doneness.
My cheaper beef was already beyond anything I’d ever tasted, but when I placed a piece of Agri’s more expensive cut in my mouth, let’s just say I was transported to steak nirvana. It basically evaporated in my mouth, leaving a taste so rich, yet light and flavourful, it was hard to believe it was just meat.
I can’t say that it was life-changing, but it was definitely the best piece of grilled beef I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
Eating at Steakland
Steakland is solidly on the tourist radar for good reason. It offers one of the best value Kobe beef meals in the country. Our meal in total, including beer was 128 Yen, and included a mid-range cut, one of the most expensive steaks on the menu, soup, salad and coffee.
We arrived around 12:30 on a Saturday and though we found a line outside the restaurant, we were seated quickly (about 15 minutes). There was no issue with bringing our stroller or the baby into the restaurant.
Getting to Steakland
The restaurant is a short walk away from Sannomiya station.
If you’re landing at Kansai airport in the morning, I recommend hopping on the direct limousine bus to Kobe, before checking out Osaka or Kyoto. That’s what we did and it worked out perfectly. The bus stop is a 10 minute walk away from all the Kobe beef restaurants, and there’s plenty to see and do in the area, plus lunch sets are usually much more affordable than dinner menus.
The bus ride takes approximately 80 minutes and costs 1950 Yen per person. Tickets can be purchased at a machine outside the airport terminal. From Terminal 3 where we landed, the bus departs on the hour at :05 and :55.
After filling your belly, you can walk off your meal by heading over to the nearby Ikuta Shrine – one of the oldest shrines in the country. It’s just a few minutes away.
Are you a meat-eater? Have you ever eaten a life-changing steak? Where was it? Tell us all about it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!