Friday, June 28, 2013

Chasing Sakura - Japan (13) - Takayama: Hida-gyu (飛驒牛)

If you go to Takayama, you must try Hida-gyu (飛驒牛).
“Hida-gyu” (Hida Beef) is the specific name given to beef from a black-haired Japanese cattle breed, that has been raised in Gifu Prefecture for at least 14 months. Hida-gyu is required to have been confirmed and certified as Yield Score of Grade A or B by the Hida Beef Brand Promotion Conference, and have a Firmness and Texture Grade of 5, 4 or 3 as graded by the Japan Meat Grading Association. 
Since Hida beef is cheaper compared to the three major Japanese beef (Matsusaka, Kobe, and Omi), I was able to gobble on this delicious beef 2 dinners in a row plus more.  Honestly, I found it just as if not more delicious than Kobe beef.  (Probably because I only had a small Kobe beef filet versus plates after plates of premium Hida beef!)  I already told myself - my next Japan trip must include Matsusaka!


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This plague is displayed at all designated shops / restaurants serving Hida beef.


The two restaurants we went for Hida-gyu dinners were Maruaki (丸明) and Ajikura (味藏天國).   Both are huge and located within walking distance to our hostel.  (Ajikura is right next to the JR Takayama station!)  I think the beef at Ajikura was slightly better but both meals were very tasty.  There was a third restaurant recommended to us by the hostel staff but it was quite far and we were cold and hungry... 

Maruaki:

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Ajukura:

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A retail store connected to the restaurant.
You can buy beef directly from the store and cook at home.
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There is a small convenient store area inside Ajikura selling a wide variety of local products.
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I was so tempted to get this but I don't have a small coal grill.
In addition, the chances of me drinking this at home is next to none.

At first, we wanted to try them all!  Grilled, shabu-shabu, and sukiyaki style... all of them!  However, there were only 3 of us and the restaurant has a minimum order requirement so we had to settle for less.  We tried the grilled beef at both Maruaki and Ajikura.  We tried the sukiyaki at Maruaki and shabu-shabu at Ajikura.

Grilled beef @ Maruaki:

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Grilled beef platter at Maruaki

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The setup at Maruaki

Grilled beef @ Ajikura:

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Grilled beef platter at Ajikura
I think the beef is tastier at Ajikura and the vegetables provided are also more suitable for grilling.
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Sliced beef tongue at Ajikura
One word - delicious!
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We were seated in one of those traditional Japanese rooms where you have to kneel
It was very uncomfortable for foreigners like us who are not used to sitting like that
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I can still taste the meat dancing in my mouth!

Sukiyaki @ Maruaki:

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This is sukiyaki for 2 so there are only 2 eggs.
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tallow!
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If you have tried Mishima-Tei (三鳩亭) in Kyoto,
which is another place I drool just thinking about it
the taste is comparable but you get more for your money here!

Shabu-shabu @ Ajikura:

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Shabu-shabu pot
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In addition to premium beef...

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we also ordered super premium beef!!!
just look at the marbelization!
The super premium beef literally just melts in your mouth

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Where shall we begin...

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If I can only find this level of quality beef in Macau...
(I probably can but at a fortune...)

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The fat just melts into the soup and get soaked up by the vegetables
it's what I called a win-win situations :P
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welcome to my tummy!

Seriously,I will return to Takayama just so I can eat hida beef again.  It's not the same as Kobe beef but both are very high quality beef.  It's also different from the USDA prime and Australian beef.  It's amazing how beef can taste so different in different parts of the world!

Maruaki (丸明)
6-8 Tenma-cho, Takayama, Gifu
岐阜県高山市天満町6-8
Tel: +81 0577-35-5858
Hours: 11:00 ~ 21:00 (Last order 20:30)
※ Opening hours vary depending on the season.
Seven days a week except New Year's Day

Ajikura (味藏天國)
4-147 Hanazato, Takayama, Gifu
岐阜県高山市花里4-147
Tel: +81 0577-33-1129
Hours: 11:00 ~ 14:00 / 17:00 ~ 22:00 (Closed every Tuesday)
You can use your "飛騨路フリーきっぷ" ticket for a 10% discount!

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