Kansai used to be the commercial capital of Japan. In this region, you will have a chance to visit the beautiful harbor city Kobe, the kitchen of Japan – Osaka, Obama in Wakasa Bay, and legendary Hikone with its old castle. However, the most appealing thing for foodies is exploring the culinary map of this area which has delicious Japanese dishes which are worth traveling around the world for.
- 10 best Japanese traditional foods you must-try
- Why is Kobe Wagyu so expensive? — Explore the “Kings and Princesses” life of Kobe Cows
- 8 Japanese unique foods in Tohoku region you should try
- 13 popular Japanese snacks you should try when visit Tokyo
- Kobe beef blog — Visit Kobe & enjoying Kobe beef, one of the most delicious foods in Japan
Kobe Beef, Kobe City
When you visit Kobe, never miss a chance to enjoy the worldwide famous Kobe beef. This Kansai specialty costs about 500 USD – 3000 USD/kg depending on the quality of the beef (from A1 to A5). Kobe beef is one of the world’s most expensive dishes and not just anyone can try this dish as only about 1,500 to 3,000 Kobe cows are killed each year to meet the domestic and international demand.
I asked my guide whether these cows were massaged and listened to music as rumored. He nodded and claimed that the process of feeding Kobe cows is very strict. The cows are given beer to induce appetite, massaged, and listen to music to release tension and remove extra fat. Kobe cows are fed special food which is far different from that of common cows. Moreover, locals have strict rules to prevent the cows from gaining too much weight, ensuring that the beef is properly marbled.
It’s important to enjoy Kobe beef in the Kansai style, Sukiyaki Kobe! One of the most recommended places to taste Kobe beef is at Akanoren. Established in 1906, this restaurant is one of the first to serve Kobe beef in Japan. An expert of grilling beef will guide you how to make the steak most delicious. Firstly, grill fat to take natural oil from the beef. Slices of beef will then be grilled with mirin, onion, mushroom, and tofu. The grilled beef is then dipped in a bowl of egg yolk before being eaten. The eggs are carefully selected. A quality egg must be red and not have a bad odor, making the steak more tasty and aromatic.
For other recommended places to try Kobe beef in Kobe, please visit www.hyogo-tourism.jp
Fugu (pufferfish), Obama City
To taste this expensive dish, you must pay from 27.300 to 35.000 Yen for two at a 2-star Michelin restaurant. Fugu is very luxurious and … a dangerous dish that can only be found in Japan. Some parts of pufferfish contain lethal tetrodotoxin which is 1,200 times as dangerous as xyanua (cyanide) in fresh bamboo shoots. Only those who have partaken in a special 3-year course and received a license are allowed to prepare Fugu. Therefore, you have to visit large and famous restaurants certified to serve Fugu rather than preparing it by yourself at home.
Fugu, cut in Usu-zukuri technique is served only at important parties or big events. The thin translucent slices of fish are arranged in the shape of a daisy, representing longevity and respect. If you want to eat Fugu at more reasonable prices, visit the coastal areas. Obama in Fukui Province, famous for its sea road, is an ideal place to try Fugu and the freshest red king crab. We stopped at Sekumiya, one of the largest hotels in Obama, which is just 2 minutes from the ocean and an 11-minute walk from Obama Station, to taste fugu-sashi (fugu mixed rice) and fugu hot pot. My fellow traveler kept asking “Did the chef have a license?” and “are there any problems with it?”. However, after enjoying a melt in your mouth dishes, she understood why Fugu is one of the most high-class specialties in the world, attracting countless diners despite the potential dangers.
113 Obamashirahige, Obama, Fukui Prefecture 917-0069, Japan
Red King crabs, Osaka
We visited Kani Doraku, a famous restaurant for red king crabs at 6:15pm. My friend said that we were 15 minutes late. The booking only last 2 hours, and diners are not allowed to stay at the restaurant for longer than 2 hours according to the reservation.
Unlike I had expected, the Doraku Kani Restaurant is very small and located on a busy street. Without the eye-catching giant red king crabs which sometimes move, there is little to differentiate this restaurant with others. In Japan, renowned restaurants are often simple. The Michelin sushi stall of chef Jiro is near the subway station and Kani Doraku is an example.
Japanese people love crab. Among different types of crab, red king crab is the most expensive. An imported crab in Vietnam can cost 5 million VND. Red king crabs can be very large, sometimes reaching a carapace width of 28cm and a leg span of 1.8 m. These crabs only live in icy water with high salinity and just leave their home on stormy days. It’s very difficult and dangerous to catch them. This is also the reason why a lunch with red king crab at Kani Doraku Crab costs about 3,000 – 4,000Yen and a lunch cost 6,000 – 8,000 Yen/ set. A set includes crab tempura, boiled/steamed crab, crab sashimi, steamed egg with crab, and crab sushi. You can enjoy dishes in a set or choose from different dishes based on your liking and budget.
No matter how crabs are prepared, the meat is fragrant, soft, juicy, and firm. In addition, the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and omega in red king crab is very high. It’s especially good for those who must use their mental faculties extensively. It’s easy to understand why they are called King crabs.
Kani Doraku Crab Restaurant
1-6-8, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Open time: 11:00 -23:00 from Monday to Sunday
Read more Kansai travel guide at here.