If you are in Kobe, and randomly walk into a Japanese steakhouse hoping to get the ultimate Kobe beef experience after seeing the big enticing posters outside showing a perfectly marble piece of juicy beef, the chances are you will fall into one of the many tourist traps. And yes, they claim all of these are A5 beef.
Japanese carcass has Grade A, B, and C for Yield (based on the amount of lean red meat vs wasted fat) and a Score from 1 to 5 for Quality (based on Beef Marbling Standard (BMS), colour Standard (BCS), Fat Standard (BFS), and Firmness). A5 is considered the ultimate culmination of a high quality cut.
Many people simply find Kobe beef too greasy; they feel that it’s like eating beef fat and don’t see what’s so enjoyable. Well, I am not surprised since I initially felt the same way too. Going to Setsugekka, however, changed this. I was very clear about what I was looking for when it came to Wagyu beef, regardless of whether it is from Kobe or not. In terms of texture, I didn’t just want a fatty sirloin or tenderloin (which are usually very lean cuts), but also beautiful marbling where fats penetrate the meat like a “spiderweb”. This can only be achieved from the pure lineage of Tajima-gyu breed cattle. In terms of flavours, it needed to be fatty without being greasy. Most importantly, the taste of the meat should still come through. And to achieve all of this, you need to rely on the chef.
Head chef here at Setsugekka is Takayoshi Kobayashi, who has been in the business for over 10 years. He has largely been the reason for the restaurant’s continued success since its opening in 1999, perfecting the art of teppanyaki cooking.
The precise seasoning, the high temperature to ensure it’s beautifully seared, the gentle press of the steel spatula on the steak to squeeze out excessive fat – even from the aroma, I already knew this would be an enjoyable steak. If you never considered cooking as an art, well, watching how the chefs cook in Setsugekka will probably make you rethink that. Even when juggling with 4 different orders of steaks and the respective sides of vegetables, they were calm and relaxed. From the use of the knife to the handling of the spatula, every hand motion had its purpose, there was no waste of energy. It made cooking look effortless. Neat, tidy, organised… not even a single splash of oil went beyond his cooking area on the teppan. What a delicious show. I strongly recommend this place for a proper Kobe beef experience.