The Japanese cuisine is diverse, and some of the stuff requires more than just ordinary curiosity to explore. How about the deadly poisonous fish fugu? Or natto, which is fermented soybeans, which smell like cheese? Kobe beef is one of the more appealing Japanese delicacies and one of the things Poul and I really wanted to try during this time’s Tokyo visit. Since Kobe beef is very expensive, I had done some online research to get an idea of what to expect.
I really, really wanted to try Kobe beef, but I didn’t want to blow the entire travel budget on just one single piece of meat, so I was happy to find a Kobe beef restaurant called Gyu- An, which both had some really n´good reviews and also seemed very reasonably priced (in Kobe beef terms, this means around $100/person). Therefore, it wasn’t hard to decide that Gyu-An should have the honor of introducing us to the world of fat-marbled wonders.
We took the subway to Higashi-Ginza station, from where there was only a short walk to the restaurant. Gyu-An was one stair down and located in a cozy, traditional room. We hadn’t booked a table in advance, but fortunately, it wasn’t a problem on that particular night.
After we had taken off our shoes (common in traditional Japanese restaurants), a lovely, kimono-dressed Japanese lady showed us to our table. We were then handed the menu, which both included a la carte steaks and “set-menus,” with a starter, side dishes and dessert included.
After careful consideration, we decided on a Kobe sirloin set and a Kobe sukiyaki set. Kobe beef is best enjoyed with a cold Japanese beer, so we also ordered two bottles of Asahi beer. After the mandatory oshiboris (hot towels) came a small appetizer consisting of beef mixed with soy sauce followed by sashimi and beef sushi along with slices of smoked beef, before we finally got to the climax: Kobe beef.
I had ordered sukiyaki , so a bowl with a raw egg was placed in front of me. I didn’t know quite what to do with it, but before I followed Poul’s advice to drink it raw (as if!), one of the kind Japanese waiters showed how to stir the egg with my chopsticks, so it could later on be used as a sauce for the sukiyaki.
Poul’s steak was served piping hot, medium rare and with delicious garniture consisting of fried onions and different kinds of sauces. I tried some of it, and it literally melted in my mouth.
It’s without a doubt the best piece of meat I’ve ever had! Because of the high fat content, the texture was more like fish than meat, and the meat fibers were almost nonexistent. The Asahi beer was a perfect companion to the meat and accentuated all the different flavors in the best possible way.
My sukiyaki was prepared at the table, one small portion at a time, and it tasted great. However, the Kobe beef taste did not come out as clean as in Poul’s steak.
All the other guests in the restaurant were Japanese, so in addition to a great meal, we also got a sneak peek of genuine Japanese dining culture.
There was an English menu available and the waiters also spoke some English, and they were incredibly friendly and helpful. At Gyu-An I therefore had one of the best meals in my life, and also one of the most memorable dining experiences ever in Japan.
Gyu-An, 6-13-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061, Tel: 03-35420226, Hours: Mon-Sat: 11:30-14:00 and 17:30-22:00, Sunday: closed, Holidays: 17:00-21:30, Address in Japanese: 牛庵, 〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座6-13-6