Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I rose from my sickbed on Sunday evening, showered, and put on my best meat-eating attire for a seat at the table of one of Kobe's most recommended restaurants for Kobe beef---Wakkota. One of my goals of this trip was about to be fulfilled.

We walked into what, at first glance, appeared to be an upmarket version of Benihana, but the resemblance to teppanyaki cuisine we know in the US ended there. We were two of about seven people huddled around one of four grills in a very quiet, elegant setting, no flashy chefs displaying knife acrobatics for us. Classy, though informal--a restaurant where the food is the star and the diner is a valued worshiper.

The only basic choices we had were cuts of meat and weight, and we quickly settled on 200g tenderloins. The meal included an app, salad, rice, and tea/coffee. The wine and champagne list was superb, but we passed.

After being 'introduced' to our meat--thick, heavily marbled steaks-- the chef went to work, first simmering garlic slices to a crispy brown and then slowly, beautifully, effortlessly (so it seemed) slicing off eight 2 inch-thick chunks of beef and cooking them to medium rare perfection, along with a medley of vegetables--different for each serving of beef. For each serving, we received brief suggestions for the dipping sequences (sometimes salt, sometimes topped with a crispy garlic slice and dipped lightly in pepper, or Japanese mustard swirled in light soy sauce, etc.) and I am telling you that melt in your mouth is not even close to describing the sensation of first bite to last.

Having scaled to the apex of the carnivore hierarchy, I guess there are few options going forward. Maybe it's best to just think of it like sex. Would rather have steak in Kobe than a filet anywhere else, but even a well seasoned filet can be savored once in a while.

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