Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kobe Beef at Kaiseki 511

Back in December, before one of my friends moved back to the US, Raku and I went out with her for a lunch of Kobe beef at Kaiseki 511.  Kristen chose the place, but it was super convenient right in our backyard of Akasaka.  The number 511 in the name supposedly comes from the grain of fat in the meat, sort of like thread count in sheets perhaps?

We were lured in by their reasonably priced lunch sets, which start as low as 1500 yen, but even a pretty fancy lunch was only priced at 3800 yen.  We had a reservation for 12:30 but by the time we arrived they had sold out of all the sets we had planned on ordering!  We were pretty disappointed and spent a while deciding what to do.  We were offered another set which wasn't on the menu that cost 4700 yen.  Ultimately Kristen chose that set since it was her last chance to try Kobe beef, while Raku and I opted for less pricy Japanese beef sets.  I was a little skeptical of the upsell, but after some discussion we decided that they probably have a limited amount of Kobe beef that they're willing to sell at such a great price per day and they were probably actually measuring and calculating what they had left in the kitchen when they offered the off-menu option.  If you're going here make sure your reservation is for early or plan on spending more.

When our food came out we were all delighted.  Kristen had an enormous grin on her face all through lunch and seemed to think the meal was well worth the money.  Raku and I spent far less, but were equally pleased with our food.  Raku ordered the tenderloin and I ordered the sirloin, but we split them both so we could compare.  True to its name, the tenderloin was incredibly tender and less fatty than the sirloin.  I usually prefer a less fatty meat, but in this case I really enjoyed the "chew" of the sirloin, the tenderloin was almost too tender.  Raku also preferred the sirloin, and says that she normally does.

Besides the actual meat, our meals were identical.  They came out on lovely trays with miso soup, salad, rice, pickles, a soy sauce foam to put on the steak and a pineapple jelly for dessert.  The meat itself came with a small piece of cheesy potato gratin and vegetables that were buttery and delicious from sitting under the meat.  The meal was extremely satisfying without leaving us feeling unpleasantly full. Despite the rough start to the meal we were all very pleased with the place and I would wholeheartedly recommend it anyone wanting to try Kobe beef, or just looking for a delicious and reasonably priced steak at lunchtime, as long as you know you need arrive early.  There's even a handy link on their website to make reservations online so you don't have to worry about making a call in Japanese.

Fun note, I used this lunch as "research" and based a scene in my book on it.  My life is pretty great, isn't it?

Hours:11:30-2:00, last order 2:00, 6:00-11:00, last order 10:00, closed Sundays and holidays
Phone: 03-6685-0511
Address:4-3-28 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo

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