Coming to Kobe? Kobe is known throughout Japan as a ‘city for foodies’. While you can find the finest of Michelin dining in Kobe, it’s down at street level that the food scene really takes off. Here’s our recommended bucket list of ‘must tries’ for your stay, with a preference for the cheap and the cheerful!
Kobe Beef – As the city is famous for it, it is a must-try dish for anyone visiting Kobe. Kobe beef is considered one of the most premium beefs in the world, known for its tender, juicy and flavourful meat. There are options for Kobe beef just about everywhere you look, including just steps from the Lexis Japan building! The price of Kobe Beef means that it’s very much in the ‘treat’ category, but you have to give it a go at least once during your stay!
Okonomiyaki – A savory Japanese pancake (some people say it’s more like a pizza) made with a variety of ingredients, such as cabbage, green onion, and seafood or meats. Okonomiyaki is a popular street food and is widely available in Kobe. The best way to eat it is in a ‘cook your own’ restaurant, with the sizzling hotplate in front of you. This is very much ‘cheap and cheerful’ food, and goes down well with a very cold beer. Make sure you give it a squirt of Japanese mayonnaise, too!
Takoyaki – A snack made of ball-shaped batter filled with diced octopus, green onion, and ginger, then grilled to perfection. There are lots of places serving this cheap-and-cheerful snack in Dotenbori, Osaka – so this is one for you save for a night out in the big city!
Udon – A type of thick, wheat-flour noodle, often served in a savory broth with various toppings, including tempura, meat, and vegetables. The difference between fresh, handmade udon and the store bought variety is huge … pick your udon shop with care!
Sushi – No trip to Japan would be complete without trying the famous sushi. Kobe is known for its high-quality ingredients and unique variations of sushi, such as the “Kobe-style” sushi, which includes Kobe beef. Check out the ‘Uoshin’ sushi shop up near Sannomiya station for the best value sushi in town (and it’s perfect for an Instagram session!)
Ramen – A Japanese noodle soup that can be served with a variety of ingredients, including pork, chicken, and seafood. Forget the ‘instant’ stuff you get at home, find a restaurant who serve it fresh made in a steaming broth. Best served as you slightly wobble home after a big night out!
Tempura – Lightly battered and fried seafood, vegetables, and meats, served with dipping sauce. You can find tempura just about anywhere, but it’s at it’s best in specialist tempura restaurants. Ask the Lexis Japan team for advice on the best place to go.
Yakitori – Skewered chicken grilled over hot coals, seasoned with salt, pepper, or a sweet and savory sauce. You normally pay ‘per stick’, and it’s a cheap way to snack away over a beer. There’s something about a yakitori bar that seems to get people chatting, too, so it’s a great environment for a casual conversation with the tipsy salaryman next to you!
Tonkatsu – Fried pork cutlets, usually served with rice, vegetables, and a tangy sauce. There are a few great options up in the shotengai between the school and Motomachi station.
Shabu-shabu – A hot pot dish where thin slices of meat and vegetables are cooked in boiling broth and then dipped in sauce. The term ‘shabu-shabu’ onomatopoeic, derived from the sound – “swish swish” – emitted when the ingredients are stirred in the cooking pot. You’ll often see shabu-shabu sold as ‘tabehoudai’, or ‘all you can eat, which is great for a long Saturday night session with friends!
Donburi – A bowl of rice topped with ingredients such as egg, chicken, or beef, often served with a savory sauce. Donburi is all about carbo loading on a cold day!
Unagi – Grilled eel, often served with steamed rice, sauce, and pickles. This is one that you’ll love or hate…but it’s always entertaining to hear the old men in the restaurant waxing lyrical over the supposed aphrodisiac qualities of good eel!
Yakiniku – Grilled meats, similar to Korean barbecue, often cooked by the diners at their table. Splurge and find a place that offers Kobe beef on the menu!
Japanese Curry – A thicker and sweeter version of the Indian-style curry, often served with rice and a variety of ingredients. This is classic Japanese junk food, and is at its chemically best in any of the big ‘curry chains’. Spend a couple of hundred yen more and get a crisp ‘katsu’ served on top.
Sake – A traditional Japanese rice wine, often served warm or at room temperature. There’s nowhere better than Kobe for sake, and it’s perfect to wash down everything from 1-15 on this list!!