Although we only spent one night in Osaka, we were in good hands so we had a pretty amazing culinary experience in less than 24 hours. My friend, who owns a yakitori restaurant in Kyoto and used to also have one in Osaka, thoughtfully planned the night so we could enjoy three dinners back to back. The first stop was a hole in the wall shabu shabu joint, which is the type of place that is very much under the radar, and only those who know someone who knows the place, will find. In fact, while we were eating there on a Monday night, there was no one else there!
As we sat down and ordered some beer, the owner chef cooked up this steak and gave it to us as a freebie! (my friend and her friend who took us there are regulars). The steak was amazing- not too fatty, but with the distinct wagyu flavor from the well marbled fat. This owner actually used to run a butcher shop, which explains why he has all the best sources for wagyu (he doesn’t stick to a particular region, just takes in whatever is good and available), and also how he can afford to serve the wagyu shabu shabu course dinner for less than 4000 yen!
The most amazing and impressive part of this whole dinner was that he sliced the wagyu to order with a super long (over 33cm) carbon steel knife. I have never seen this being done before. Shabu shabu beef is normally sliced on a machine. He says that slicing the beef with this knife actually prevents scum when you add it to the dashi. Couldn’t believe how nicely he sliced the beef. This day he had Miyazakigyu (A5) and Kagoshimagyu (A4) so he let us try both.
This was only one of the three dinners we had lined up!
The owner came over and cooked all the beef for us. He said it has to be cooked medium rare for the optimum experience. His ponzu was really good as well and I couldn’t believe that the dashi was just with konbu. This was definitely the best shabu shabu experience I’ve ever had. Even the vegetables tasted so good (lots of sweetness and texture).
And as he said, there was basically no scum when he cooked the beef in the dashi. I had never seen anything like it. We finished with some chasoba (green tea soba), and the soup was out of this world. So light but so much flavor. He gave us some crazy good melon at the end as dessert.
I feel so lucky to have been brought here and my boyfriend was amazed that no one else was there. He also found it intriguing that many restaurants in Japan don’t play any music, but I explained to him that people in Japan generally go to restaurants to eat good food (and socialize), not to be seen or expecting a trendy atmosphere. The characters we met in Japan really completed our culinary journey and made it something that we will never forget.