I first ate Kobe beef in Tokyo nearly 10 years ago. A client treated me to dinner at a picturesque Ryotei restaurant serving kaiseki cuisine, the most formal of all Japanese dining experiences. The highlight of our meal was a serving of the highly prized marbled beef about the size of a deck of cards. We shared it; the tab for the meal was equivalent to my weekly grocery bill.
My second time was last week — with a hot dog. A frankfurter billed as “the ultimate haute dog.” I picked up a pound of American-Style Kobe Beef frankfurters as part of a grand opening promotion of Metropolitan Market (a dreamy grocery store with lofty prices off-set by value-priced teasers like fancy hot dogs). The marketing ploy worked. I felt compelled to tee up our hot dog dinner with a certain flair:
“These hot dogs are made with a special style of beef called Kobe Beef.”
“But isn’t Kobe Beef in Japan,” Son #1 asked.
“Yes, but this is American-style. And they’re using it in foods like hog dogs.”
“That’s weird,” Son #1 noted.
And not all that different from any “premium” hot dog, from what I could tell. But the Kobe effect did inspire me to take the sides up a notch beyond the usual baked beans and coleslaw. This time we opted for Trader Joe’s Cuban black beans over rice plus diced mango. It worked. Clean plates all around.