Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kobe Cuisine :: Sobameishi, Kobe and Coffee

Kobe is awesome. Most people know Kobe because of their famous beef. If I were going to be reincarnated in my next life, I wouldn't mind coming back as a cow in Kobe. Of course, while we were in town, we had some steak - at a place called STEAK LAND. I mean, if you're going to name your restaurant Steak Land, I'm obviously going to eat there. It was good and we had the obligatory Kobe beef set but the true highlight of our trip to Kobe was trying Sobameishi, a mix of fried rice and yakisoba that is a specialty of Kobe.

Sobameishi is really filling and cheap so it is really popular with young people in Kobe. We got a recommendation from the hotel to try a small shop called KAZAMATSURI. The shop is run by a very nice family and they serve yakisoba, sobameishi and okonomiyaki. Sobameishi tastes a lot like yakisoba because of the sauce, but the texture is stick to your ribs good, especially since Kobe is pretty cold in January. We woke up the next morning jonesing for more, so we went back for another meal at lunch.

Kobe has a lot of cute cafes with a very European feel. It was one of the first cities in Japan to open up to westerners. I think another reason for the strong cafe culture is because one of Japan's largest coffee manufacturers is based in Kobe, Ueshima Coffee Company, or UCC. UCC introduced the now ubiquitous canned coffee to Japan. There is not better 3pm pick me up than a piping hot canned coffee out of a vending machine.

Our final great find in Kobe is actually a shop that is based in Nara but since we discovered it in Kobe, I'm giving them full credit. Floresta Donuts (awful name -- doesn't it sound like a sleep medication?!) are made with all natural and local ingredients. The wife and husband owners wanted to make donuts that they could give their kids and feel good about it. I'm not actually so worried about the nutritional value of my donuts, but these suckers are REALLY GOOD. They sold me on the free sample of the plain donut -- they have a great texture and inventive flavors. Thankfully, there is a Floresta shop in Setagaya in Tokyo. (And yes, those are my feet holding up my can of UCC Coffee in the background)

Oh yeah, and then there was this thing which I don't have much to say about other than that it was really yummy and we found it at a nondescript bakery under the train station. 

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