Kobe Beef at Teikoku

Most of our economic stimulus payment is going to go towards painting our living room and padding our savings, but we couldn’t resist splitting off a little chunk of the money into a nice evening at a good restaurant.

The restaurant that I speak of is Teikoku in Newtown Square, PA.  I’m not at all prepared to give a full review at this moment, and probably won’t be until we return there again.  For now, you’ll have to make do with a review of the two Kobe beef entrees that we ordered.

Kobe beef is regarded as the finest beef in the world, and if you’ve never had a chance to try it, you may think that all of the hubbub is marketing hype.  The worst part of this is, this may become a self fulfilling prophecy simply because Kobe beef, originally from Kobe in Japan, is becoming bastardized by variations from other countries including, now, America.

True Japanese Kobe comes from Wagyu cattle that are raised in accordance with strict traditions which include a diet of sake and beer, and massaging that purports to result in more tender beef.  It may be marketing hype, but they’re doing something right over there.

Like most things when they become diluted and start to enter mainstream channels, the quality has begun to suffer, and “American” Kobe-style beef now appears on menus more and more frequently, compelling diners to pay higher prices for not-much-higher quality beef, then leaving them to wonder what all the fuss is about.  It’s a sad day when a mall food court restaurant advertises a Kobe burger on its menu.  It’s similar to what happened with Black Angus beef a few years ago – it started as a specialty item in steakhouses, and now it’s a fast food staple.

We had the fortune to try Kobe beef for the first time before the Australian and American versions started to take hold.  It was Valentine’s Day, a few years back, and we had gone to Morimoto in Philadelphia.  We had ordered the Omakase, and as the steady stream of dishes progressed from light to more weighty items, we were served a small, grilled Kobe steak.  It was as tender as butter, with the finest marbling of fat, giving way to an intense beef flavor that put every other beef dish that I’ve ever had, in my lifetime, to shame.  Yes, it’s really that good.  Until now, I haven’t had the opportunity to have Kobe again.

True Kobe beef works best in simple preparations that let the quality of the beef shine through (and not, say, ground up and served as a burger).  You have trust your sources, and Teikoku is definitely a restaurant that would serve a genuine Kobe steak, although they do make a trendy concession in the form of a Kobe cheese steak.

We ordered and shared two of their Kobe selections.

Kobe Beef Hot Rock

As I’ve said, Kobe is best in simple preparations, and you can’t get any simpler than the Kobe Beef Hot Rock at Teikoku.  The platter consists of a small portion of thinly sliced, raw Kobe beef, a citrus-soy dipping sauce, and a big, square sizzling rock.  You place the beef on the rock, let it sizzle just a little bit, and then eat it.  Having it this way definitely allowed us the opportunity to compare it with Morimoto, and, for what it’s worth, it was on par with what we had in Philadelphia.

Kobe Beef Steak – 5oz

Another simple preparation, the Kobe steak is grilled, sliced, and served with a shallot sauce.  Just as interesting were the fries that are served with this dish – Japanese sweet potato fries, glazed in honey.  Overall, a nice upscale variation on steak and fries, and definitely recommended.