Hi All, I am here to bring you the exciting and concluding part of my trip, as I write this and cherish the fondest of memories one day I hope to return to this wonderful country! In case you missed the first part of the trip you can find it here and a more detailed travel guide can be found here.
Kobe was not on my initial plan. However the lure of Kobe beef was hard to resist. I did a day trip from Kyoto to visit the famous Himeji Castle. On the way back on the Shinkansen, I decided to hop off at Shin-Kobe station and experience some Kobe beef. The world famous Kobe Beef is a delicacy and one of several breeds of Wagyu, or Japanese cattle. It is distinguished as a tender, flavourful meat and well marbled with fat. It is produced from pedigreed Tajima breed cattle which were born and slaughtered in Hyogo Prefecture. Kobe breed is typically served in a variety of ways -steaks, shabu shabu (thin slices of meat quickly boiled in a broth) or sukiyaki (meat slices simmered in a hot pot). An alternate experience is to enjoy Kobe Beef is at a teppanyaki restaurant, where a chef grills the meat on an iron plate.
I happened to find a restaurant named Kobe Tanryu Ikutashinmichi ten near the Kobe-Sannomiya station. It was not that crowded as it was almost late afternoon for lunch and quite early for dinner. So I could watch with peace, the chef making my teppanyaki dish. First some soup and salad was served. Then the amiable chef very meticulously showed me in which sequence I need to eat the meat and grilled vegetables. Needless to say, it was one of the most succulent meat dish I have ever had in my life. In the end, the chef obliged for his photograph to be taken in front of the restaurant.
Below is the video of the preparation process
Price: 4968 Yen (80 g Kobe Beef (Tender Red Meat): 3800 + Salad, Rice, Soup, Grilled Vegetables: 800 + 8% tax)
(Trivia : “Kobe has been an important port city for many centuries. Its port was among the first to be opened to foreign trade in the 19th century alongside the ports of Yokohama, Nagasaki, Hakodate and Niigata.In 1995, Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, which killed over 5000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Today the city is completely rebuilt, and few signs of the terrible event remain.”)
Momiji manjū are small cakes made in the shape of a maple leaf. Miyajima is one of the better places to find them locally made with the machinery in the same shop which sells them. Age momiji are fried momiji manju – with a crispy surface but very soft and sweet on the inside. Generally they come in three main flavours – red-bean or custard cream or cheese, and on a stick. In Miyajima, I tried one with a custard cream flavour.
Price: 180 (fried momiji, custard cream)
O-nigiri, also known as nigirimeshi, o-musubi, is a Japanese staple snack or picnic food. The simplest form of it is a ball of rice. However, there is an amazing diversity of onigiri shapes and flavors. Mostly it is to be found in triangular or cylinder shapes. Literally meaning “to hold on to,” it is often loosely wrapped with a rectangular piece of nori seaweed. Fillings like tuna salad, salmon flakes, seafood salad, konbu (a type of sea vegetable), umeboshi (a sour bright-red pickled Japanese plum), tempura, salted salmon, or any other salty or sour ingredient may be added in the middle. Sometimes the rice balls are flavoured with soy sauce and grilled (yaki-onigiri). I bought a chicken stuffed o-nigiri in a 7 Eleven convenience shop in Kyoto.
Price: Onigiri (Brown rice with Spicy minced chicken) + coffee+ croissant: 335 Yen
Taiyaki is a very popular Japanese sweet made in the shape of a fishfrom cast iron moulds.It literally translates to “baked sea bream”, and prepared with a rich pancake or waffle batter and traditionally filled with adzuki red bean paste. Of course, it being Japan, there would be other fillings too!
Taiyaki is believed to have originated in Tokyo in the Meiji era.The origin of the fish shape is unknown. However it is believed that, because sea bream were very expensive at that time, taiyaki was shaped in such a way as to make the eater feel as if he or she were eating luxuriously. Tai, the Japanese word for sea bream also is similar to the Japanese word medetai, meaning happy or prosperous. Hence, they are often eaten to bring luck!
Price: 150 (red bean paste and sweet potato)
As I walked down the area around Higashiyama District along the lower slopes of Kyoto’s eastern mountains, I was mentally ticking off what all food dishes I have tried in Japan till then and what all I wished to try next!
Gochiso sama deshita!