April 13th, 2015 - Kyoto, Japan - Day 242

Big Pete's POV

Today it rained ALL day without any breaks.  We all had a bunch of stuff to catch up on, so we sat in our little house around our little kitchen table and worked from first thing in the morning until about 5:30 at night.  It was one of those days where you don't get out of your PJ's and by the end of the day you feel like you need fresh air more than anything else in the world.  Fortunately we had a good reason to get out of the house for the evening - steak!

We have not had many fancy dinners on the trip, but we knew we had to go to a Japanese steak house to try some of their world famous steak.  We had made a reservation for Hafuu Honten a couple of days prior and we were all excited about the meal.  They serve Wagyu beef at Hafuu.  Now a little about Wagyu and Kobe.    All Kobe is Wagyu, however, not all Wagyu is Kobe.  Kobe is a region in Japan and it is the most famous of all the beef growing regions.  Steaks from this region regularly cost $200 a piece in the U.S.  Wagyu broken down means Japanese Cow - Wa = Japanese or Japanese Style and Gyu is Cow.  So to say we were eating Kobe would not be correct (we are not crazy), we were just going to eat some great Wagyu.  This restaurant is well known for the quality of its beef and is ranked as the #3 restaurant out of 7606 in Kyoto so we had high expectations.

We decided we would walk to the restaurant to at least get a little exercise and fresh air.  I am proud to say that the only Taxi we have taken in Japan is the one from the train station to our house in Kyoto - other than that we have been on foot and trains.  It was still raining when we left, but we all just grabbed umbrellas and hit the road.  

Soon after we left we spotted a real life Geisha walking just ahead of us.  She was not in full regalia yet, but had her face painted and was on her way somewhere.  

Geisha on her way to work

This was our first sighting of a real Geisha, which was pretty exciting given that there are only 250 of them in Kyoto, which has the most Geisha anywhere in Japan. 

We were able to snap a quick photo of her back, but she was moving quick and ducked down an ally. 

On the way to dinner we wandered through the covered market area and stopped in a couple of shops to kill a little time.  

We made it to the restaurant just after 6:30 and were seated at the bar overlooking the kitchen.  Being seated at the bar was not optimal because it was hard to have a conversation with all four of us, but we wanted to see the chefs in action so we had decided when making the reservation to specify bar seating.  

We settled in and ordered relatively quickly.  Stacie went for the filet, while the rest of us went for sirloin.  We all ordered salads.  The first thing that came out was a little amuse bouche which was a scallop with a couple of pieces of lettuce - it was delicious.  This was quickly followed by our salads, which were beautiful:

Since we have been in Japan we have not been eating many salads, so this was a welcome treat.  The salad was amazing!  We were all getting excited because we saw the chefs put our steaks on the grill in front of us and if the first two courses were any indication of what was coming we were in for a real treat.  

We finished our salads quickly and without much of a break between courses our steaks were placed in front of us.  

Peter's steak served Medium - mine was medium rare 

After one bite we all knew we were ruined.  There is a good chance none of us will ever have a steak this good again in our lives.  It literally changed my perception of what good meat is and how it should be prepared.  I can't even describe how good this steak was, and it wasn't just me - we all said it was one of the, if not the, best thing we have ever eaten.  It literally melted in your mouth and you barely had to chew.  Peter declared he is not going to eat anything but Wagyu beef -ever. 

We all slowed down and tried not to finish our meals because we did not want the experience to be over, but in all good things must come to an end and this did as well.

So sad!

When we were done we sat back and relished the experience we just had.  

I would highly recommend people come to Kyoto just to have this meal.  

Walking home Stacie noticed a different restaurant that seemed to have a little buzz going on.  She mentioned that on the way to our meal she had seen a few nice cars outside and thought something might be happening and then on the way back we decided to investigate a bit.  She ducked into the entryway and found a bunch of dress shoes neatly lined up.

Then a few seconds later a real Geisha came out in full regalia.  It was dark and she was only in the street for a second, but Stacie was able to get a paparazzi photo of her.  

So what seemed to be a very dull day turned out to be an exciting evening full of incredible food, laughter and a celebrity sighting!