If there’s anything you need to try when you’re visiting Japan, it’s their incredibly delicious wagyu. What I find most amazing also is that each region has its own specialty. Kobe Beef is well-known worldwide for its impressive fats marbling and can cost anything from USD80-100 per kg or even more. There’s also Hida Beef which you can find in the Gifu region, especially in Takayama, a little city known for its interesting folk museums and ancient merchant houses dating back to the Edo period.
But today, we’re going to talk about Omi Beef, lesser-known than its Kobe counterpart but so tender and literally melt-in-your-mouth that if I were living in Japan, I would literally travel between cities during the weekend just to have it. Omi Beef dates back to 400 years and amongst its contenders, it’s got the longest history.
So I was staying in the outskirts of Kyoto around the Lake Biwako area during my trip in the earlier half to the year and was looking for some good old wagyu in the area to try. I came across this joint called Matsukiya and googled for more about this establishment. Apparently it’s got its beginnings from the Meiji period, and that just brings to mind shoguns and samurais. I’m a particular sucker for old-school stuff, so I knew this was going to be good!
Matsukiya apparently has 2 outlets, and I happened to be nearer to the original shop in Otsu. If you’re taking the train, get off at the Karahashi-Mae stop and walk across the road. It’s literally a minute’s walk from the station. The shop is quite nondescript in appearance, but just look out for the Kanji words “松喜屋”.
If you don’t already know, one of the tricks to eat expensive wagyu at cheaper prices is to go during lunch. After much deliberation, I decided to order the set lunch Gyunabazen Special Deluxe Rib (3500JPY = SGD42) which was a beef sukiyaki meal instead of their steaks.
AND BOY WAS I BLOWN AWAY.
The taste of the perfectly-cooked beef was tender, savoury, juicy yet flavourful, and it was like literally eating butter. If you were to ask me to do a comparison between Kobe and Hida beef which I’ve also tried on separate occasions, this is truly the best amongst the lot.
Here are the directions to Matsukiya.