Despite its natural beauties, modern skyline, and historical landmarks, Kobe has gained its international name recognition, first and foremost, for its steak.
The area near Sannomiya Station is renowned for Kobe beef, the world-famous cut of meat from Wagyu cows raised in Hyogo Prefecture. Ishida Kobe Steakhouse is one of many great locations in the area to experience this gourmet Japanese delicacy.
Similar to other restaurants specializing in Kobe beef, the food is prepared and served teppanyaki style, meaning customers sit around a large steel grill where the chef personally prepares their food. In the U.S. and other places abroad, teppanyaki has taken on the name “habachi” and is considered a novelty, but in Japan it remains a well-respected art and usually takes place in a luxury dining atmosphere.
Experience Teppanyaki Style
Ishida is no exception. The food is complimented by an elegant interior design and chefs skilled at teppanyaki style grilling. With the set course option diners are taken through multiple dishes by their chef including amuse bouche, sesame salad, chawanmushi (savory egg custard), grilled vegetables, and, the star of the meal, Kobe steak. Kobe beef is known for a depth of flavor, marbled fat, and a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Ishida delivers on that promise; the chef even proudly displays the marbled cut to diners at the beginning of the meal.
Set courses at Ishida Steakhouse start at 9,000yen and increase depending on the size of your cut, but there are more affordable a la carte options if you’re just looking for a gourmet tasting.
What Locals Eat
If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, the underpass between Motomachi and Sannomiya supplies plenty of local fare including the Kobe specialty bokkake yakisoba. Hidden among other restaurant stalls—including Yazawa (the home of Kobe beef ramen)—you’ll find Nagata Honzyoken, a popular destination for this grilled noodle dish.
Like other bokkake yakisoba shops in the area, the restaurant has counter seating. The cook prepares the meal in front of you, combining a standard yakisoba, the popular stir-fried noodle dish, with bokkake (oxtail and konnyaku stew).
Konnyaku may look like an intimidating ingredient to many foreigners given its dark grey jelly-like appearance. In reality, it has a relatively mild taste and is prepared from the Japanese konjac root. This ingredient, mixed in a sweet and salty oxtail stew, makes a hearty yakisoba unique to Kobe the region.
You’ll often find the dish topped off with a sunnyside egg and a healthy handful of green onions. The dish is then served steaming hot on the grill in front of you.
Ishida Kobe Steakhouse is just one minute from Kobe Sannomiya Hanshin Station, but make sure to make reservations in advance. Nagata Honzyoken is located on the basement level of a building in Sannomiya Center Plaza.
I’m an American journalist and editor based in Tokyo. After nearly 20 years living in Japan, I’m still discovering new and exciting places in Japan outside of Tokyo and off the beaten path, such as the ancient “Kumano Kodo" pilgrimage trails and the charming seaside fishing village, Kada.