Western Japan resides in the uncanny ability to embrace the unique. A sharp contrast from the elements of Kanto, the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe march to the beat of their own drum. From entertainment to cuisine, Western Japan takes pride in being different, carving out a reality that seeks to whet the appetite of those who don’t shy away from a little change. This particular snippet focuses on the city of Kobe, a city that relishes in the mystical. Overlooking the Seto Inland Sea, this city offers an array of different odds and ends to keep the most adverse of travelers interested in walking its streets.
One of the best aspects of following the path less traveled is uncovering hidden gems along your journey. One of those gems is called Kukai; a quiet establishment tucked away in an alley near Ikuta Shrine.
A glimpse inside the establishmentAs you enter the restaurant, soft lighting and smiling faces greet you, as earthy tones and enchanting music enrapture your senses with a feeling of comfort. Sharing the name with a famous priest of the Heian period, the ambiance of Kukai seems to embody the tenets of spiritual thought and tranquility. Often, you can see the chef working tirelessly in the front of the eatery, ensuring that customers are thanked for their culinary curiosity. Although you have an array of choices on the menu, most patrons come for one thing and one thing only; the Kobe beef okonomiyaki. Blending elements of Kansai cuisine with the delicate tastes of Kobe make this particular dish satiate your taste buds in an unforgettable manner. Looking at the menu, you have the option of ordering the signature fare with a choice of several toppings, enhancing the flavor of your meal.
In the beginning...Prepare to be amazed as the chef begins to prepare the cuisine across from you. The okonomiyaki starts off as a lump of ingredients, as egg, shredded cabbage, and toppings of your choice harmonize into delectable goodness. The combination of scents and sensations create a lasting appeal that has you coming back for more. After the cooking process, swirls of mayonnaise atop the pancake complete the dish, balancing the savory flavors of the Kobe beef with a slightly sweet tang of okonomiyaki sauce. It is moments like these that help to showcase the power of combining various elements of seasonings and vegetables to produce a beacon of culinary delight.
The finished product!As this restaurant is off the beaten path, do not expect much tourist traffic. Therefore, basic language ability may be a requirement to ensure you order the toppings of your choice. If all else fails, a “point and shoot” approach may work in your favor, as the menu is packed with large enough photos to get the job done. Still, it is advisable to enjoy the comforts of this establishment with friends well versed in the language.
The sign for KukaiIf you’re looking to enjoy a rich, homelike environment with excellent cuts of Kobe beef and okonomiyaki, then Kukai may be the place for you. As you take your first bite into the luxurious and diverse flavors of the cuisine, remember to pat yourself on the back for choosing to take a road less traveled. It is an experience you won’t forget.
- 2-1-4 Shimoyamatedori Chuo-ku Kobe Hyogo
- 兵庫県 神戸市中央区 下山手通 2-1-4 KWビル 1F