Kobè Japanese Steakhouse (Columbus, OH)

Last night I had the opportunity to try out the newest Japanese steakhouse in town, Kobè. I was fortunate enough to have some friends along who gave their valuable insight as well. From the moment you walk into the lobby of Kobè you get the feeling of poshness with a lot of contemporary flash. Granite pillars and walls of cascading water give Kobè an ambiance of luxury.

I had to wait a few minutes for my party to arrive and while the actual waiting area in the lobby was somewhat cramped the bar area was large and spacious inviting you to step in and grab a cocktail while you wait on your table. We had set up call ahead reservations and we were seated within about 5 minutes of our party’s arrival. Most walk in customers without reservations were told an average of 30 minutes wait from what I overheard.

Like most Japanese style steakhouses you are initially offered a warm towel to cleanse your hands from the days grime (if you haven’t done so already) and then it was on to the drink orders. I like to drink water when I visit these types of places. It helps clear the palette to allow you to enjoy different tastes and it isn’t very filling which is a good thing as you usually get a lot of food with these style restaurants. I did try the Apple Martini (Appletini) which was complimentary with my meal and I must say it was very good, much like drinking a sour Apple Jolly Rancher.

Perusing the Kobè Menu I was initially struck by sticker shock. Most of the entrees listed were easily two to three times higher than competing Japanese style steakhouses. After reading some of the descriptions however, I decided on the granddaddy of the signature dishes known as the Kobè Treasure. For $65.00 you get lobster, scallops and Wagyu Kobè steak which comes from New Zealand and is touted as “the finest steak available in the Western Hemisphere”. With a description like that you just have to try it even if it does mean eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a week.

Typical of hibachi style steakhouses our meals came with Japanese onion soup which was flavorful with bits of mushroom and onion and a house salad with a creamy onion dressing both of which were served promptly. The presentation of the food was great fun to watch and if you have never been to a teppanyaki style restaurant I highly recommend doing it at least once. The chef comes to your table and cooks your food on a flat griddle built into your table. The knife skills these chefs possess are simply amazing and watching them slice and dice your food is one of the main attractions. Onion volcanoes, fireball displays, flying shrimp tails and twirling acrobatic eggs are just some of the things you can witness here.

Once the food started hitting the plate it was go time. The shrimp appetizer came first followed by the vegetables which included mushrooms, zucchini, squash and onion. Normally dipping sauces are included at these type of restaurants and Kobè was no exception. Trying each item as they arrived on my plate in each sauce I found that I liked the seafood and vegetables more in the ginger style sauce and the meat items more in the creamy onion sauce. As we consumed our vegetables the other items started to arrive including my lobster, scallops, Wagyu Kobè steak, which I had been anxiously awaiting, and a final topping of grilled bean sprouts complemented the meal. The lobster was well cooked but not overdone and the scallops were absolutely wonderful being soft and not chewy.

When my steak, which I had prepared medium rare, hit the plate I was all over it. I first tried it naked with no dipping sauces applied and the texture was absolutely velvety. It was almost creamy and texture wise it was probably one of the best steaks I have tried. The taste however was marred by the cooking sauces which I believe included soy and others. At $8/oz I want to taste steak and I just didn’t get that. It was even more apparent to me when I tried my wife’s normal fillet mignon ($30 cheaper) and couldn’t tell a taste difference between the two. While there was a huge texture difference and mine was definitely a superior cut of beef I just can’t justify the price difference for the same taste. Perhaps if the Wagyu Kobè steak was grilled in the backyard the superior marbling and texture would show its worth.

At an average of $30-$35 a plate with the top end hitting $65 Kobè is probably not some place you are going to eat every night, once a week, or even once a month but if you are celebrating an event or just want to splurge on a night on the town Kobè may be your place.

About Rogue

I am a computer geek by nature and trade. Some say I was born with a keyboard in my hand and this is before keyboards were even invented.

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