Stopped by Yonezawa, just for the meat. Yes. Because Yonezawa beef is one of the three great wagyu’s of Japan. I’ve had Kobe and Matsuzaka beef before, as steak and sukiyaki, respectively, so I wanted to round out my experience with the last of the three and discover which one I liked best.
Hands down Yonezawa beef.
I had the mouth-watering meat at Bekoya, near Yonezawa Station. Bekoya is a huge restaurant, styled as a traditional Japanese house. Rooms have their own yakiniku area, and they serve shabu-shabu, beef sushi, steak, yakiniku – many iterations of Yonezawa beef. They are also considered one of the best at their trade.
I went in with a few friends for lunch, ordering the Shabu-Shabu Nigiri Sushi (because who ever heard of beef on sushi?!) and the lunch special boxed Yonezawa Beef Steak (米沢牛ステーキ重). As a lunch special, it came with a drink and dessert.
The Shabu shabu no nigiri came out first. Two pieces of succulent beef on perfectly seasoned sushi rice. Or so it seemed. The beef was not seasoned and had barely any flavor and really required sauce to make it edible. The texture, however, was thin and tender, and the combination with the rice was actually quite yum. Not my favorite thing ever, but certainly something interesting to try.
The steak took a little longer to come out. But when it did–
The steak-and-rice is presented in a cute lacquer box, closed. But when I opened it – oh my goodness did the steak look juicy. It was definitely hard to restrain myself from eating it until after I took pictures. But it was absolutely divine. The beef is SO melt-in-your-mouth. It requires almost no chewing, and your teeth cut through it like butter. It has a definitive meat taste, but is subtler than say, a rib-eye. It screams meat, but sophisticated, bold, and umami meat. And the fatty juices from the steak soaked into the rice, making the whole dish luxurious. Nothing as good as meat-soaked rice…
Four sides come with it – the ever present and traditional miso soup, a salad, a tiny scoop of potato salad and pickles, and a ‘kaori no mono’ or fragrant dish. The miso was interesting, as it contained slimey nameko mushrooms – surprisingly tasty despite the off-putting texture. The salad had a delicious basil french dressing, and the kaori no mono contained mushrooms and konnyaku in a sweet sauce.
I was actually surprised when the dessert came out – an apple sorbet. Tiny, but delicious.
The bill was….more than I would normally spend on a meal, but hey – super HIGHLY recommended. Even if you just want the beef, you should go to Yonezawa. For the beef. As I did.
For the thrifty spender, I recommend going to Bekoya during lunch for their cheaper, but still delicious, lunch specials.