Saturday, April 25, 2009

Eating Tokyo: Kobe beef supreme at Gyu-an

with SYT

Kobe beef raises eyebrows. Accountants sometimes ask, "how can a dinner be so expensive". But here, I introduce a Kobe beef restaurant which is reasonably priced...well priced like a regular steakhouse in the US.

But then, can beef be that good, that it literally just melts in your mouth? Can the fat be packed so full of gorgeous flavour? Can it still be beefy tasting at the same time? Many wonder. Many never find out. To do so, would require a trip to Japan where the best wagyu is never exported, only to be consumed within the country. The Kobe prefecture is perhaps the most famous for wagyu, but in Japan you can find equal or even higher quality from other prefectures.

Gyu-an, a small steakhouse at the basement of a side street in Ginza is one such restaurant which can answer this question. The steaks served here are all from Kobe, and all perfectly executed. The service is excellent, little Japanese waitresses busy running around, fussing over diners. The manager is a gentleman who speaks perfect English.



I was first introduced to this restaurant by J. Nakazawa who had taken Kin and I to sample wagyu. Nakazawa-san is truly a Japanese amongst Japanese with an eye of the traditional and special. I returned with SYT this trip, and we spent a good 20mins searching for the restaurant. Finally I found it, and the walk to search was worthwhile. Unfortunately my Blackberry GPS could not lock into a location reading so I still don't have the coordinates, so please bear with the google map below.

The Menu in English, as translated by the Tokyo Metro Tourism folks.

SYT selected the Hana Taizen ladies set, and I did a 200g sirloin steak.

First, a beef with soy sauce amuse bouche - Gyu Tsukudani.



This was beef, ground and boiled with soy sauce. The taste of the beef was rather apparent...so, yes, wagyu retains the beefy taste. The texture was fibrous, but soft and tender, and the soy sauce adds its punch with saltiness and soy flavour. Very nice.

A small salad was next:



Fresh, fresh vegetables in a simple soy sauce based dressing. Very nice.

Then, the main event...SYT's fillet:



The beef was tender, but the cut was not very fat, though what fat present was well marbled and spread through the muscle fibres, making the beef very tasty, tender, and flavourful. Just a nice touch of chewiness.

My sirloin was somewhat fatter...



The characteristic skirt of fat on the sirloin was particularly flavourful...burst in the mouth, with great umami mouth feel, and beautiful flavour...I can almost taste the corn fed to the cows...and I am sure it is my imagination, the beer it had drunk.



The beef was very tender...had to be with the high level of marbling, and cooked perfect medium raw. At the same time, it had the robust, beefy taste. As can be seen the light browning of the outsides - a characteristic of the Maillard Reaction is evident, as indeed the flavours released were very clear to the palate. I am not sure if the beef had been dry aged. I am not aware that the Japanese practice dry aging...and indeed in the tasting, the nuttiness, foie gras flavour is absent, indicating that this was fresh beef...just very high quality and very beautifully cooked.

The beef was served with 3 different kinds of sauces, but being a purist, I only ate with the rock salt - extreme right.



Indeed one of the more pleasurable steak dinners I have had in a while...how I lament that all of these have been eaten outside of Singapore. This is a must try steakhouse when in Tokyo, especially if you are staying in the Ginza area.


6-13-6 (Hibiya Line Higashi-Ginza), Tokyo
(short walk from Gucci Ginza) Marked A on the Google Map:

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tel: +81 3-3542-0226‎
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