Today I discovered a new place to be added to my list of favourite restaurants. I discovered the newest entry in my Top 5 Japanese restaurants in Lebanon. Passing through Pasteur street, down the same road as Emm Nazih and The Gathering, a huge wooden facade attracts your attention.
I have been intrigued for quite some time to learn what lies behind these impressive doors. I have heard from several people that Kobe is a unique and tasty Japanese restaurant. Although it has a reputation for being expensive, believe me, after today's experience, it is worth every penny. I often pass by the street that now hosts a number of restaurants, but I was always in doubt whether Kobe opens for lunch or not. Today, I decided to stop by and check everything out for myself. I walked in happily surprised and left positively amazed.
Do you want to know more about the name Kobe:
Kobe beef refers to cuts of beef from the black Tajima-ushi strain of Wagy? cattle, raised according to strict tradition in Hy?go Prefecture, Japan. The meat is considered to be a delicacy, renowned for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. Kobe beef can be prepared as steak, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, sashimi, teppanyaki, and more.
Let me take you behind the doors...
Behind the huge wood facade is a delicate fine dining room filled with endless details where your eyes are forced to wander and absorb everything. The first impression captivates your full attention. You enter a dimmed lit open space where a bar occupies the right and a hibachi bar stands on the left, where you can enjoy a creative live teppanyki cooking. Large grey sofas surround a couple of square wooden tables, all set on real wood parquet that add a touch of warmth and class. Before indulging with our order, the unique experience starts with two small shrimp bites, which I would describe as the amuse-bouche served in fine-dining French restaurants. We then moved on to dishes including sushi rolls, salads and meat that are all mouthwatering.
The details I loved:
- Two wood chopsticks are offered to every guest, elegantly wrapped in a cloth napkin
- Fine porcelain plates on a metallic place mat
- A red wooden box introduce the rich wine list
- Light and normal soy sauces are offered
- I love the big water and wine glasses that are thin and light
- The best table is the round one next to the glass facade or maybe the other high one on the other side
- I like the menu: Fresh, professional and pleasant to browse, supported with images on the iPad
- Dish images are professional and appetizing
- The place is so elegant. You won't see chefs rolling Japanese pieces or smell any frying. I appreciate that a lot.
The menu sections:
- Dim Sum
- Main Course
- Featured Kobe Roll
- Inside Out Roll Sushi
- Crispy Kobe Roll Host Maki
- Hand Formed Sushi
- Battleship Sushi
- Seafood Salad on Ice
- Original Hibachi
- Featured Hobi Hibachi
- Side Dishes
- Crab Timebale: (Jumbo lump crabmeat tossed in remoulade, stacked with mango and avocado) It starts with a mixing ritual of the fresh crab, mango and avocado cubes mixed with light lemon seasoning. A heavenly preparation
- Rainbow Sea Tartar (Tuna, togarashi, sesame oil. Salmon, cucumber, enoki mushrooms, cilantro, jalapeno dressing. Scallops, shiso, scallions, yuzu juice) is unique, presented in three different squares, each offering a unique taste
- Crazy Kobe salad is fresh and tasty. A combination of chilled soba noodles, crabsticks, bean sprouts, tossed with Jersey dressing.
- Golden Encrusted Shrimp Salad:"Uffff". Simply awesome! Warm pieces of non oily fried shrimps on a bed of lettuce, asparagus, and fresh button mushrooms with chilli mayo seasoning.
- Shrimp Gyoza, Dim Sum: Pay attention it's very hot and spicy. Soft pieces generously filled with adequately cooked shrimps, fresh ginger, Chinese cabbage and scallions.
- Salmon Shrimp, Roll Inside Out: Breaded shrimp, avocado, scallions, togarashi, flying fish roe, wrapped in teriyaki glazed salmon.
- Golden Squid, feature Kobe roll: Grilled on the plate. This is my favorite dish today. You would have to visit Kobe to taste this heavenly creation. Fresh coated squid, flying fish roe, scallions, complimented with king crab and boiled in Tuan sauce. This is really out of this world! The best ever Maki roll you can imagine tasting. My sincere congrats.
- Smoking Lady: King crab, shiso leaves, asparagus, togarashi, wrapped in smoked salmon cream cheese.
- Atlantic Roll, Kobe Specialty Roll
- Wabi Sabi: Cooked live with hot teriyaki sauce. Have you ever seen something like this before? Rolls of meat maki cooked live in their serving plate on alcohol orange fire. Just imagine the taste. Indescribable.
- Marinated Salmon On Ice: As good as expected.
- Kobe Beef Tenderloin, Original Hibachi: The meat is one of the most tender meats I have ever had in my life. Soft as an asparagus, melts between your teeth so easily you can't but say yummy after every bite. The spinach wraps on the side are very nice.
To accompany this feast, Cold and Hot Saké were served in small special shots and preserved at the adequate temperature in porcelain jars.
- Two chopsticks: maybe one for picking from the plates and the other for eating? Or one for the main course and the other for dessert. Take it like you want
- The chairs, or even the sofas are so relaxing and very pleasant to spend long hours on. We started lunch at 1pm, and left at 3:30
- Thank you for using Evian glass bottles and not the cheap plastic ones
- Lucy, our waiter is so professional, perfectly dressed, smiling and welcoming. Thank you for your kind attention today
- Three little pieces of fresh leaf shaped wasabi are placed in the middle of the table
- Table napkins add a fine dining touch to the experience
- The Kobe meat is a monumental sin
- The restaurant opens everyday for lunch and dinner
- I liked the printed napkins
I would change:
- Create something from the outside to show that the place is open. It always looks closed with no activity inside
- Tables are sticky and need a new paint job
- The white ginger is not my favorite. It has a very sharp taste and chews a bit. It is special indeed but not what we are used to having in Lebanon
We ate more than anyone can handle forgetting to keep a space for dessert. Although I couldn't resist the mouthwatering pictures, especially the Fried Ice Cream Vanilla: Warm bread rolls filled with cold ice cream and decorated with dark chocolate lines and powder sugar on the side. It's fulfilling to the eyes even before you try it. Mouthwatering is the least I can say. Two thumbs up.
Phenomenal service. A one-of-a-kind dining experience, right in the heart of Beirut. A nice surprise indeed, even though the price is not too accessible for daily visits but believe me when I say: With what you get, the details taken care off, the tasty food prepared and the fine service you experience, Kobe is a must try... The soonest you can - drop by.