While transiting in Japan, I had the opportunity to partake in 2 culinary delights and the first one was to enjoy Kobe beef. An easy search online will show you everything about Kobe beef and based on the raw meat alone and the marbling, Kobe beef or any wagyu beef in Japan is perhaps worth its value. Having lived in Canada where they do serve great steaks, the beef in Japan is on a whole different scale.
With that in mind, I enquired at the concierge in Park Hyatt Tokyo where I was staying on where to enjoy the best wagyu beef. She recommended me 2 locations, one being Misono Teppanyaki in the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building, and another being Seryna which serves both teppanyaki and shabu-shabu. I picked the former and got the concierge to make a reservation for me. On the night of the dinner, I walked over to the Sumitomo Building which is right opposite the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Twin Towers. Thus it is easy to find and there is no need to worry about getting lost. Once there, take the elevators to the 51st storey where there are a variety of other restaurants as well. At the restaurant the receptionist immediately recognized me as the guest from the Park Hyatt Tokyo since I was carrying an umbrella from the hotel. I was escorted to my seat in the small restaurant and I got seated in the main teppanyaki counter with space for 14 guests. There was a couple on the other end and a group of 3 patrons a few seats down.
Each group of diners was served by a teppanyaki chef and the restaurant was not packed at all which might ring alarm bells elsewhere but do take note that Misono is also famous as being the original creator of teppanyaki style cooking so it was still worth a try if not for the historical significance! Another reason I guess is that a meal in Misono is not exactly spare change with a Kobe beef course costing at least US$200 per set. I picked the ‘B’ course that comes with a 200g Kobe beef in a sirloin cut, 2 kinds of seafood, salad, sauteed vegetables and dessert. In addition I ordered a cup of Oolong tea for my drink since I am a non-alcoholic drinker.
The dinner service started by the chef preparing the seafood in a basket in front of me and for that night I would be having a sliced fish along with 2 pieces of scallops for the seafood. Then I was served with the appetizer which is some sort of parma ham.
After that it is showtime as the chef skillfully seared the scallops first with the outer layer having charred brown marks and yet when I put it into my mouth still had the juiciness of the scallops. Wonderful pieces of sweet scallops and it marked a high in tonight’s dinner. For the fish, the chef did not ask me for the way I liked it, and he prepared it stacked on top of green vegetables and cooked on the hot pan with soy sauce. The dish makes it taste a bit like steamed fish in the Cantonese style and I thought it was probably the one dish that I thought could be made better. On top of that, the quality of the fish was only good, and nothing spectacular as well.
But the seafood was not the reason I came to Misono, and they were just foreplay to the main star which was the Kobe beef, and the chef thought so as well. He even presented the plate nicely in front of me so I could take a good shot of it and offered to take one for me with the Kobe beef as well. I guess that is what many tourists do!
The Kobe beef as you can see is lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and the chef started off by frying the vegetables first such as the mushrooms and onions before frying the garlic chips into a crispy golden brown colour. While waiting for the main course, I was served with my salad.
Salad served in a Japanese-style western restaurant is probably my favourite type of salad. They usually comprise of crunchy lettuces, corn, peppers and cucumbers marinated lightly with a ponzu, soy and/or sesame dressing. This one was as expected and I finished the small bowl heartily. Throughout the dinner, the chef was really friendly and while he spoke little English, he was trying hard to teach me how to enjoy the food that he prepared such as showing me what to dip it with and telling me each of the dishes in English. This excellent service is outstanding and lasted throughout the dinner.
After the salad, the seared vegetables were ready and my favourite would be the pumpkin slices which were sweet and savoury at the same time! As I enjoyed my vegetables, the chef began to get busy with the main course and asked me how well I would like my beef to be done. As usual, I picked on medium done, and the end result was just the way I liked it.
The Kobe beef was served with yet more green vegetables on the side and what I found interesting was that the chef cleared up the fats from the meat first and saved them to a side while he cut the meat into small cuboid slices. It turns out that he cooked the fat pieces until they were dark brown and crispy and served them beside the vegetables. If I am not wrong, these fat pieces would be cooked with the fried rice if the diner orders it. This was how it was done in another teppanyaki restaurant I visited in the city of Kobe.
With regards to the beef, it was really juicy and one bite into these little pieces is just like chewing butter. The meat is that light and I chose to eat the first piece with just salt and pepper. The other condiments were either some soy sauce or mustard. Personally I felt they were best with just salt and pepper. These meat were truly melt-in-your mouth beef! Initially I was having some qualms with just ordering a 200g steak set but closer to the end of the meal I realized why the small cut. The fatty meat makes it very filling and one really cannot have too much of a good thing!
As for the crispy fatty chunks of beef curds, I enjoyed them immensely with the vegetables as it added a smoky flavour and rich taste to the green vegetables. The whole teppanyaki experience was stunning and I could probably say I had the best beef that day and I wonder how any other steak house could compare since I do not think authentic Kobe beef is sold in North America.
However that was not the end of the meal since the menu indicated dessert. Like many Japanese restaurants, dessert is a plate of muskmelon and since Japan is known to have one of the most expensive melons in the world, I thought this was good enough. The muskmelon is sweet as expected and brought a nice end to the meal. Again the whole set course dining experience in Japan is meant to delight and make the customers leave satisfied. This is one of the reason why I have so many memorable dining recollections while in Japan! As to how worth it the meal was, I have to say go for it if you can afford the meal, as I doubt there could be beef this good outside Japan. Even if there was, you probably have to fork out more dough to enjoy it! On top of that you are getting such wonderful service from the chef in the restaurant!