After wandering the underground food court at the Osaka Takashimaya at Namba Station, past all those meat purveyors with ridiculous displays of perfectly marbled meat, we couldn’t leave the city without squeezing in a round of Japanese beef. So much so that we skipped on a dinner at Honkogetsu, a two-Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant, and spent the night avoiding thinking about our transgression.
Fukujukan, on the ninth floor of Takashimaya’s upstairs food court (a collection of restaurants, really), specialized in beef, either grilled or in shabushabu. In particular, Fukujukan had Matsusaka beef, one of the triumvirate of well-known Japanese beef types (Kobe and Yonezawa being the other two), which come from a black-haired cow. The meat is distinguished by an intense level of marbling and, partially resulting from this, a buttery tenderness. I mean, just look at this (the frontmost piece is the highest-quality. There is a five-point scale to rate Matsusaka beef).And this.And the obligatory plate of vegetable skewers.The kicker was that the grill, a beautiful slab of perforated stone, was greased with piece of beef fat melted over its surface. I think I just watched this process with my mouth wide open. Shock and awe.In addition to the typical massage treatments and beer-feeding, the cows eat a variety of fodder, including tofu lees and ground wheat (so says the Mie Prefecture tourism guide. Matsusaka is a region in Mie.) By comparison, the kyushu beef I had in Tsumago was fed in part with apples, and there was a lot less marbling and a lot more sweetness (let’s just forget whether there is any scientific rationale or causation behind this). By comparison, the Matsusaka was milder and creamier.They also provided a trio of dipping sauces, but I didn’t much need or want them. I just wanted to feel the beef melt in mouth piece by piece, no adulteration.
There are certainly a lot of food options in the Kansai region, and I would never discourage you from trying a particular thing or to prioritize one thing over another, but even after all the hype I’d absorbed about the superlative nature of this niche of Japanese beef, the real thing was quite something to behold.
A plate of fruit to finish things off:Fukujukan / 福寿館
Namba dining maison 9F, 5-1-18, Nanba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, 542-0076