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Kobe’s Best Beef

My good friend Eriko, whom I’ve mentioned many times on this site, is always quick to correct people when they make beef references upon learning she’s from Kobe.

“The cows are slaughtered here,” she points out, with a smile and sometimes even with a morbid laugh, “but they’re raised on Awaji Island, far outside the city limits. We Japanese name our beef based on where it died, not where it lived.”

With that technicality out of the way, I’d like to introduce you to some of the best beef restaurants in Kobe. Because let me tell you: Where you eat your beef in Japan is more important than where the cow lived or died.

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Misconceptions About Kobe Beef

Before I list some of the best beef restaurant in Kobe, we should discuss a few misconceptions about Kobe beef. As I already mentioned in the introduction to this post, there’s the fact that Kobe beef should actually be called “Awaji beef,” since the cows used to make it live most of their lives on nearby Awaji Island. But that, perhaps, is just a technicality.

Another technicality that grinds my gears? Foreigners who talk about wanting to eat “wag you” beef, as if that is something that exists. I’m not trying to be judgmental when I say this, but helpful. Pronouncing the word correctly, wa-gyū, will increase your chances of being understood when asking Japanese people where you can find best wagyu in Kobe (I mean, assuming you don’t just trust my recommendations).

My Favorite Kobe Beef Restaurants


My first experience with Kobe beef, I’m embarrassed to say, was not actually in Kobe. Rather, it was in Tokyo’s Ginza district, where Kobe outpost Misono once had a shop. The bad news? That store is closed. The good news? You can enjoy the exquisite dining experience (and, of course, wagyu) in Kobe not far from Sannomiya Station (as well as in Kyoto, and just west of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station).


According to my friend Eriko (a Kobe native), Wakkoqu is among the best Wagyu restaurants in Kobe—and I can’t disagree with her. I personally love visiting the “city” location (as opposed to the one near Shin-Kobe Station), though both offer amazing Teppanyaki meals. Do note that unlike Misono (which only appears phone reservations), you can reserve seats at Wakkoqu online.


Steakland is probably the easiest beef restaurant to eat at in Kobe: It has multiple locations; rather than reserving a table, you wait in a sometimes long but usually fast-moving queue. I’ve heard some people criticize this place for being touristic or even tacky, but I don’t listen to them. The food is exquisite, and besides: If you’re looking for a Kobe beef lunch that doesn’t dominate require much forethought (or time) Steakland is your best choice.


Objectively speaking, Mouriya might serve the best beef in Kobe, though there are a few things you should know. The first is that you are 100% going to need a reservation, which you can make online here. The second? Mouriya serves up life-changing wagyu in a sophisticated setting, but you’re going to need to pay for it. Don’t expect an affordable price in the range of what you’d see at Steakland.


Located just steps south of Sannomiya Station, Hanasato serves up wonderful wagyu in a small and understated building, which almost appears to be a Kyoto-style Machiya. Notably, this is not Kobe beef, but Hida beef from Takayama. Additionally, this restaurant (which is not open for lunch, and does not permit the entry of small children) only accepts reservations via email.


Why to Visit Kobe (Besides the Beef)

Kobe is one of the most underrated cities in Japan, primarily because it sits in the shadow of Osaka (much like Yokohama does vis-à-vis Tokyo). However, whether you come on a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto, or stay overnight, there’s plenty to do:

  • Walk down into the city from Shin-Kobe Station via the historical homes of Kitano-cho
  • Ascend to viewpoints like Mt. Rokko or Nunobiki Herb Garden for an awesome panorama
  • Eat your way through Nankin-machi, one of Japan’s three original Chinatowns
  • Watch sunset behind Kobe Port Tower as it lights up—or go up inside it instead
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Other FAQ About Kobe Beef

Is Kobe beef the best beef?

While Kobe beef is certainly the most popular beef in Japan (and maybe even the beef with the best reputation in the world), it’s not the only option. The city of Takayama in the Japanese Alps, for example, is home to Hida beef. Another option is to make a trip from Nagoya to Matsusaka, to try that city’s beef.

How much is Kobe beef in a restaurant?

Although Kobe Wagyu can be extremely expensive in the US or Europe, many travelers are surprised to discover how reasonable it is in Japan. The exchange rate obviously impacts the ultimate price in your currency, but most menus in Kobe feature lunch sets that range from as little as ¥3,500 per person, with premium options on offer as cheap as ¥10,000.

Is Kobe beef worth the hype?

Whether you eat it in Kobe, Takayama, Matsusaka or somewhere else in Japan, Japanese beef is absolutely worth the hype. While the serving size isn’t what you’d get in the US, Australia or Argentina, the flavor and texture absolutely live up to any expectations you might have set.


The Bottom Line

I hope you’re lucky enough to get a reservation at one of the best beef restaurants in Kobe—or, at least, the ones I consider to be the best. The good news? No matter the ambiance of the place you end up eating, the flavor and texture of Wa-gyu (which is technically farmed on Awaji Island, and not in Kobe city) will blow your mind. The better news? If you can pair Japan’s most famous beef with one of these impeccable Teppanyaki, it will become one of your life’s most unforgettable culinary experiences. Want your entire Japan trip to be one for the record books? Consider hiring me to plan it!


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