One of our last few meals before departing from Japan was Kobe beef at Mouriya Honten. There’s 5 branches of Mouriya all within walking distance of each other. We made online reservations at Mouriya Honten, which is their original restaurant. I highly recommend making a reservation in advance, especially if you want a counter seat where you can watch the chef cook on the grill right in front of you! Don’t worry, there’s English and you can indicate your seating preferences on the online reservation on their website. They also have coupons on their website available from time to time — make sure you take advantage of that! We were able to get 5% off our total bill by printing it out and presenting it at the restaurant.
Since we had a 1-day Japan Rail (JR) Pass, we took the JR train from Osaka Station and got off at Sannomiya Station. There’s a JR special rapid service train available so try to catch that one if the time lines up with your plans (it’s faster and with fewer stops). It took us just over half an hour to get here from Osaka using this method.
Dinner is always more expensive so we came here for lunch — it’s significantly cheaper and they have Kobe Beef lunch sets available which are great! These range from ¥4,800-¥15,800 depending on which cut of beef you get. They also have cheaper “special selection” sets but note these are NOT Kobe beef. But if you’re coming all the way here anyways, I would just shell out some extra money to get the true Kobe beef experience. So make sure you get the Kobe Beef Steak Lunch Sets!
We each ordered our own Kobe beef lunch set which includes soup, salad, grilled veggies, a choice of bread or rice, and a beverage.
I opted for one of the most expensive options — the Prime Sirloin (¥14,600) which is A5 grade and you get 170g of it. The others ordered Prime Rib Eye (¥12,500, A5, 180g) and Rump Steak (¥6,000, A5, 120g). When the meat came out in all its glory, we were in awe. Just look at that marbling! The chef was nice enough to take a photo of all of us with the meat as well. I was eagerly awaiting the first bite of this…
The chef cooked the veggies first. There was eggplant, green pepper, and large bamboo shoots. He also explained how to eat the meat with the different seasonings provided. There’s salt, pepper, wasabi, and grilled garlic chips. He told us to first try the meat without any seasonings, then with a just bit of salt, then salt and pepper, then with some salt with wasabi, and so on. This way, you’re able to first taste the natural flavour of the beef then enhance the flavours to your preference.
It was so much fun watching our chef cook. No flashy shows or tricks or anything — just pure focus. He moved so swiftly and used his knife to cut through the meat with such calculated precision. I loved that he separated the fatty parts from the meat and cut them up into small bits, letting them get crispy on the grill. They were like meat cracklings! He also used the fat of the meat as oil to cook the bean sprouts and veggies.
Finally, it was time to have my first bite of the meat. Oh my, it was incredible. So tender and rich in flavour, without any added seasoning. I had a bite of the Prime Rib Eye as well and it was bursting with even more flavour. The Rib Eye is a fattier cut of meat, so that makes sense. I thought it was more buttery and more melt-in-your-mouth compared to the Prime Sirloin. However, I still preferred my Sirloin just because you still get so much flavour without it being too, too fatty.
Tried a bit of the Rump Steak as well. It was obviously not as tender as the others because it’s a much leaner cut and there’s not a lot of marbling, nor did it have the same amount of flavour. However, for a budget option, it was still a very good piece of steak.
The whole thing went by so quickly — I wish there was more!!! That was no doubt the best steak I’ve ever had. The cattle raised in Kobe are under strict regulations and are treated with the utmost care. It’s no wonder Kobe beef is on a level of its own. Flavourful, tender, and excellent marbling. These qualities all make Kobe beef a prized delicacy in Japan and all over the world.
If you’ve read my other posts, you may know that I also had Kobe beef at Steakland during my previous trip to Japan in 2016. If you’re looking for a place to eat Kobe beef, I can now say for sure to skip Steakland and go straight for Mouriya Honten. The service and quality are much better here and we just had a more enjoyable experience across the board. The chef and servers were much more attentive here and it was a more intimate experience, contrasting the factory-like production at Steakland. Definitely check this place out and don’t be afraid to splurge! I promise you won’t regret it. 😉
Address: 2-1-17 Shimoyamatedori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture
Landmarks: across from Tokyu Hands