Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Plaisir

Did you know that Kobe beef is only sold within Japan prior to February 2012?  Outside of Japan, you can only find authentic Kobe beef in Hong Kong, Macau, and the US.  (USDA only relaxed the Japanese beef importation as of August 27, 2012)  The Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association actually monitors how many kilograms of beef was exported and who bought it here.


So what is Kobe beef and why is it so expensive?  (All information below are from the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association).
To become "Kobe beef" certified, there are several prerequisites:
  • The cattle has to be a bullock or virgin Tajima cow has been born in Hyogo Prefecture from a Tajima cow having a pure lineage.
  • The bullock or virgin cow has been bred and raised by a designated farmer in the prefecture and slaughtered at one of the slaughterhouses in the prefecture. 
  • It must also pass strict grading for BMS (Beef Marbling Standard), weight limitations and other criteria.
In summary, calves are raised on breeding farms to the age of eight to nine months, after which they are put on show in the calf livestock market.  Then, they are raised and fattened in feeding farms for about two years.  Once they reach maturity, on average 30 to 32 months from birth, they are slaughtered and sent to the meat market.  In particular, it takes an extra two to four months to raise Tajima-gyu cows compared with the regular Japanese Black domestic breed of Wagyu cattle.

Each of the Tajima-gyu cow carcasses are graded and assessed by the Japan Meat Grading Association. The overall meat quality score of carcasses is determined according to four factors – beef marbling, meat color and brightness, firmness and texture of meat, and color, luster and quality of fat – each of which is graded from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. 
There are about 5,500 head of Tajima-gyu cattle. Only about 3,000 of these cattle are certified as Kobe beef. In fact, Kobe beef only accounts for a mere 0.06% of total beef consumption in Japan

A certified "Kobe beef" receives a 10-digit individual ID number which is displayed on the packaging and you can find out about the cow's lineage, where it was born and raised, the market it was sold at, and whether or not it is actual certified Tajima-gyu Kobe beef, all on the Internet.
Furthermore, you can identified a premier Kobe beef restaurant by checking if they have a bronze cow statue on display.  This statue is issued by the Kobe meat Circulation Promotion Council as a recognition for being an outstanding restaurant.

All that intensifies my desire to eat real Kobe beef in Kobe.  I have heard countless stories on how expensive it is and that has deterred me for the longest time.  Finally, I found a authentic Kobe beef restaurant at a reasonable price - Kobe Plaisir!!! (Internet is a beautiful thing!)

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Sannomiya is only ~30 minutes away by JR from Osaka
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Plaisir is only a 10 minutes walk from the JR Sannomiya station
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Most people will know where the b kobe is if they don't know where Plaisir is.
and if all else fails, there is always Google map.
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in addition to teppanyaki, you can have steamed or shabu shabu style Kobe beef
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This is the bronze statue awarded by the Kobe Beef Association
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certified "good" Kobe beef buyer
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even the prince ate here
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the restaurant design is very clean and sleek
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a full house and everyone is loving their food
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my chef preparing my food
doesn't he look like Joseph Gordon-Levitt?
They offer a set lunch at JPY3,150... seriously... it's a steal!  I even found a coupon that gave me a free drink (red, white, juice, or oolong tea).  The service was impeccable and the food is plentiful!  I highly recommend Plaisir to anyone who is in Kobe or its surrounding and wants to try an affordable but authentic Kobe Beef meal!

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appetizers with an aperitif
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bisque (i forgot if it was pumpkin or squash but it was good)
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mixed green salad - most vegetable given to me this trip
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my Kobe beef!!! look at the marbelization! /drool
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the chef's cooking my neighbor's food
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well, I had to eat one while it's fresh first!
I had them "raw" per chef's recommendation but I think I will love them even more "medium rare"
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garlic fried rice
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a mysterious concoction - the waitress said it's good for me with a wink... lol?
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only in Japan - where you will be given pickles with steak
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I even got tea and miso soup in addition to everything else
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I was escorted to a comfy coffee room to enjoy my dessert and coffee
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caramel ice-cream with a waffle
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they offered me tea or coffee and I asked for a latte :P
I can ascertain they use good quality coffee beans and tea leaves
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no joke... my check was JPY3,150!
In Japan, you don't even have to tip extra since it's already factored in the bill!!!
I wish ALL countries do that!


I really love when restaurants are proud to display the source of their produce.  I didn't take pictures of everything but they showed down to where they source their salt - amazing!

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FTC Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with Plaisir and the meal is paid by me and not sponsored.

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