Kyoto, Japan

  • Date
  • 24 June 1999

24 June 1999 – Mom and Dad are here for a few days (I’m enjoying a much needed dose of them) so I picked a restaurant I thought my Father would especially like called Mison, a branch of the famous Kobe restaurant that claims to have invented teppan-yaki. On a smooth, hot tableside grill, the chef cooks steak, seafood and vegetables to perfection.

Kobe beef is notoriously expensive since the Japanese government protects beef prices and cows are costly to raise since they are massaged, never worked and fed only the best food, and, some say, a beer or two. Our dinner totaled about $100 per person, which sounds high but is paltry compared with prices at many Kobe beef restaurants.

Dinner began with a small cut of chilled Kobe beef sitting atop grilled sweet onions. Then we each devoured a scallop; mine was the largest I’d ever seen – wider in diameter than a ping-pong ball. Next course was a salad of iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, red peppers, corn and meat (which looked like ham but I avoided wanting only to savor Kobe meat during the evening).

Then our chef grilled beef, mushrooms, eggplant, a pumpkin-looking Japanese vegetable and onions. After the Kobe beef, the highlight of the evening was the garlic chips, which the chef cut into tiny pieces and then grilled to crispiness before serving 10-15 chips to each of us. Jim, who adores garlic, loved this new way of eating it and even my mother, who is not a fan, fell for these crispy, garlic chips.

Then miso soup along with steamed rice and pickled vegetables followed. I enjoy Japanese rice more than Chinese and Korean (perhaps because of the fluffiness) so even though I was a bit full, I ate my rice with a little dash of soy sauce added for proper seasoning. Unfortunately, I cannot learn to like miso or pickled Japanese vegetables.

So was my dinner worth the expense? Well, I wish I could say no and that Kobe beef is completely over-rated; however, the beef was the most tender, juicy, perfect meat I have ever tasted. I think the special texture and extraordinary taste comes from the ultra thin layer of red meat followed by an ultra-thin layer of white marble (or fat depending on how you look at life), followed by meat, then marble, meat, then marble. The effect of these layers makes the meat look pink in color instead of red like most good cuts of beef.

Overall a splendid meal and what a real treat for me to have three of the people I love most in the world together to share in the experience.