One of the best things to do in Kobe city is indulge in the variety of superb cuisine on offer. The standout food, of course, is internationally recognized and has its origins in this very region of Japan: Kobe beef. This brand of beef is one of Japan’s top-three grades of wagyu – which comes from superior certified Tajima ushi, or cows raised in Tajima in northern Hyogo Prefecture. Below, we round up a selection of recommended dining spots, not only for Kobe beef, but also for sushi, izakaya fare, and a spot of sake drinking. All of the restaurants mentioned are close to the city’s main attractions (read more in our article “48 Hours in Kobe”).
This restaurant can be found in the Arima Onsen area, inside The Maple hotel. When we visited, we chose a window seat facing out over a lovely Japanese-style garden. We opted for the Kobe beef teppanyaki lunch, which came accompanied by rice, miso soup featuring shimeji mushrooms, an exquisite spread of sashimi, and an array of kobachi (small side dishes) including kamo (duck), yuba (soy milk skin), kabocha (pumpkin), saba (mackerel) and omelet. The beef itself was exquisite: its rich, marbled fat literally melted as soon as we had lifted it into our mouths, with the subtlest hint of a shaki shaki-style crunch from the slightly crisped edge that had resulted from grilling it on the iron skillet. For a post-meal stroll, wander through the town’s streets, lined with shops featuring Arima specialty goods. These include tansan senbei (carbonated rice crackers), and the Arima cider from which they are produced.
The Maple hotel, 406-3 Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe, the-maple.jp/arima/en
This Kobe beef restaurant is within walking distance of Ikuta Shrine, on the corner in front of Tokyu Hands Sannomiya. It’s a good idea to reserve a counter seat through their website, because from here you can enjoy the spectacle of watching the chef cook, and listen to him chat about the sizzling, mouthwatering beef in front of you. It will not be cheap, but it is well worth the experience.
Mouriya Bldg., 2-1-17 Shimo Yamate Dohri, Chuo-ku, Kobe, www.mouriya.co.jp/en/head
Deep in downtown Sannomiya district is the heart of Kobe’s nightlife. Head here in the evening to mingle with locals who gather for after-work drinks, usually at an izakaya (Japanese-style pub) where the beer and food is cheap but satisfying. We recommend Dongame, a five-minute walk north of Sannomiya Station. Although they don’t offer an English menu, the vibe inside truly captures the character of a Kobe local – entertaining, loud and fun.
5-5-2 Kotonoocho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, dongame-kobe.com
For the more sophisticated diner, go north of Sannomiya Station to a restaurant called Kichiri. It’s more modern in atmosphere and has a younger demography. The perfect spot for a night-time kanpai in the cosmopolitan city of Kobe.
8-1-19 Isogamidori, Chuo-ku, Kobe
Words by Kimberly Hughes and Minechika Endo
For more things to do in Kobe, read our article “48 Hours in Kobe”: