The Best Kobe beef Experience at Steak Aoyama

Kobe wagyu beef at Steak Aoyama

My main interest in Kobe city was the world famous wagyu which is native to this region. The “wa” in wagyu means Japanese, and the “gyu” means beef. The reason why wagyu and Kobe beef have almost become synonymous is because of the strict standards under which the cattle are reared in the Hyogo region. Quite simply put, the famous A4 and A5 Wagyu can only be produced in Japan. While trying to decide where to eat, I came across TA’s list of 10 Best Restaurants in Kobe.

Mouriya Inc., which is a long established restaurant managing business, has five wagyu restaurants established in Kobe. Of these, two are ranked in the top two of Trip Advisor’s 10 Best Restaurants in Kobe. Kobe Steak Restaurant Mouriya Lin (ranked #1) and Kobe Steak Restaurant Royal Mouriya (ranked #2) are sister restaurants which beat out Steak Aoyama (ranked #3) by a fair margin.

The overall meal doesn’t differ across the restaurants because they all offer different cuts of Kobe beef as part of a set meal. This set usually includes the beef, a salad, a soup, a choice of bread or rice, and either dessert, tea, or coffee to end the meal. The Mouriya restaurants have options which are comparable in price to the options at Steak Aoyama; around 5,000-6,000 yen for a lunch set, though Aoyama is slightly cheaper. Also, like Aoyama Steak, you can make reservations at the Mouriya restaurants for a chance to have your meal cooked directly in front of you. 

Despite these similarities and the higher rankings of the Mouriya restaurants, I still chose Aoyama Steak. This was simply because Aoyama was a family restaurant and because of the sheer number of reviews complimenting the personal experience here.

Reservations at Aoyama were quick and easy to make through Facebook and they actually didn’t allow walk-ins during our time slot. This meant that we had a highly personal experience with just seven people being cooked for right at the grill. The sets were clearly laid out in an English menu and two of us chose the 130g fillet to share, while my friend chose the 130g sirloin, each for 6,500 yen. We all chose the Kobe beef options over their regular and Kyushu beef. 

Kobe wagyu beef at Steak Aoyama

While we got settled in, the chef began to prepare the sides which would go with our beef. This included eggplants, tofu, mushroom, and peppers.

Fried vegetables at Steak Aoyama

We started the meal with some delicious greens. The ingredients in the salad were fresh and their salad dressing was so delicious! The salad was followed up with some simple but equally delicious mushroom soup. It’s nice that they gave us both a soup and a salad since many Western restaurants only offer one or the other in a set meal. This was especially great because the beef did take some time to cook.

Salad appetizer at Steak Aoyama
Mushroom soup appetizer at Steak Aoyama

As we were eating our appetizers, our chef got started on seasoning and cooking our Kobe beef. Nothing beats watching and smelling that amazing meat being cooked right in front of you. 

Kobe wagyu beef at Steak Aoyama

Since the restaurant was so exclusive, I had expected the event to be pretty formal. It turned out though that our chef had a great sense of humor and he kept us entertained throughout! This is him doing the “salt bae” impression while telling us sadly that he’ll never be as famous as “that guy”.

Kobe wagyu beef at Steak Aoyama
Chef at Steak Aoyama

Our beef was then cooked to a sweet sweet medium rare (anything more is a crime against nature) and diced into perfect pieces of heaven. Lastly, our bread was toasted on the remaining meat fat and some butter, and finally we were served!

Kobe wagyu beef at Steak Aoyama

Finishing up with some coffee at the end was perfect. After dining at Aoyama, I can say that this restaurant takes the steak (dad joke alert) when it comes to affordable wagyu in Kobe. Since we had made reservations and it was a closed event, we felt no rush and were really able to enjoy our meal. Of the seven people, our group of three lingered the longest and the chef’s whole family decided to come out and greet us after. The chef’s father then proceeded to show us his own Kobe City Guide with his top recommended places in the city, complete with his own professional photography. Even after living in Japan for almost a year, I was still blown away by the level of hospitality that they showed us.

Coffee at Steak Aoyama

The entire dining experience and the meal itself was absolutely worth the price. Kobe beef at this price point is pretty much unheard of and getting a similar quality and size in the West is impossible. I left with absolutely no regrets from choosing #3, which used to be #1 on TA’s list back in the day. 

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