We arrived in Kobe about dinnertime. All we had to do was to find the restaurant our trust ol’ guidebook recommended and we would be all set for a nice steak dinner. We wandered around the area of the restaurant, our eyes alternated between our map, compass, and the various signs trying vainly to get a clue. It was then that we heard the voice. “Excuse me, where are you trying to go?” We were so engrossed in studying our map we did not notice the middle aged man approach us. We showed him our map and he attempted to give us directions. He turned the map this way and that. Pointing at various street signs. It was then that he realized that any directions he might give would perhaps be in vain as we might find our selves once again lost in an unfamiliar city. He simply said, “Follow me.” We walked down the street as this very kind man showed us right to the door of the restaurant. He took time from his day and went out of his way to help us. The restaurant was not far from where he encountered us but I would say that he truly went “the extra mile.”
The restaurant was dimly lit and had the feel of a small pub. The walls were dark wood and darker brick. A row of sturdy wood tables sat next to the wall. Between the tables and the kitchen was a high bar counter with stools lined up along its length. We took a seat at one of the three tables along the wall. The menu was tacked up on the wall above the bar and we took a moment to read it over. There was a vast array of four choices. There were two different cuts of steak and we could order as a meal set or a-la-carte. The price for eating Kobe beef ranged from about fifty dollars to around one hundred bucks. As I mentioned Kobe is famous the world round for its beef. And famous beef ain’t cheap.
The restaurant may not have seemed like it was much of an establishment when we first entered but I am glad we chose it. The full experience of the meal was well worth the price. It was fun because only the bar separated the eating area and the kitchen we were able to view them as they cooked our food. One of the two employees came over to our table and we place our order. Jenny and I both ordered steak, which came with a salad. We also ordered a side of garlic rice and of course beer to drink for me, tea for Jenny, and juice for Logan.
They began by preparing our salad, which was fixed in the standard way of placing the ingredients in a bowl and tossing to coat them with the dressing. Then the real fun started. They began to cook the steak. They pulled two large thick steaks out of the refrigerator and placed them onto two metal skewers. The skewers of meat were then placed over a charcoal brazier that was located next to the stove and allowed to cook. After the steak had cooked for a time they began to prepare our plates. The plates were cast iron steak plates. The chef placed them onto the burner of the stove and allowed the plates to heat up. It was amazing to watch the plates heat to a glowing red. Once the plate was hot the cook placed some slices of garlic and onion and about five nice big fried potato wedges onto the plate. Then the steak was placed on the plate. More onions and garlic were loaded on top. This is when the fun started. The chef reached above the bar and brought down a big bottle of sherry or port and began to pour it all over the steaks. The moment the alcohol hit the scalding hot plates it ignited. The flames towered up into the range hood.
The plates were then brought to our table. We tied on our paper bibs that protected our clothes from the grease that spattered off the still hot plates. I could hear the meat and onions sizzle on the plate as they continued to cook. Our food was a perfect example of a steak cooked rare. The center of the steak was a shining crimson red that moved to a soft muted pink on the outer edge. The outside of the steak was perfectly seared, a crisp coating to the brown edged meat. I must say that it tasted as good as it looked. The meat was tender and juicy. Jenny and I each gave Logan a slice of ours to eat. He got meat from the edge that was closer to being well done. I am not sure why but he claimed to like the potatoes better. We clapped our hand together, said “itadakimasu,” picked up our chopsticks, and began to eat. As we did so the meat and veggies continued to cook on the plate. The steak progressed through the stages of being rare ending up at medium. The onions lost their crunch and sweetened to the point of being a great accompaniment to the meat. Each bite was as good as the previous.