… I just assume diners know that real Kobe is back in America after a hiatus. But Meg recently linked this rather fluffy piece in the Post so I figured I would offer my experience with it here. I became aware of the embargo’s end shortly before I had what I assumed was real Kobe on my second L’Atelier visit. I didn’t ask so I can’t swear it was authentic, what I can say is it was exponentially better than all the other meat I have been served around town that was branded as Kobe or Waygu (don’t know if you have been to Old Homestead but little in New York food is as pathetic as their offerings).
When I had this discussion with my friend Mark, the Chef De Cuisine at Morimoto, he explained that to truly appreciate the finest Kobe it should be prepared Shabu Shabu. In a nutshell, you quickly swish very thinly sliced Kobe through a hot, flavored liquid and pair it to differing vegetables and dipping sauces. Absolutely convinced that Mark had gone insane from too much Japanese exposure and that meat with that kind of fat content could not be better boiled than seared, I accepted his challenge, leading to my first ever full meal at Morimoto not at the Omakase bar.
The meal left me feeling three things: that Mark is a very good chef producing very cool food from the Morimoto kitchen, that I am a bad friend for confining my dining at his restaurant to the Omakase bar with which he is not involved, and that I was totally wrong – Shabu Shabu is indeed the superior manner for Kobe preparation.
Grilled/seared/roasted and all other high heat methods scorch the predominant and flavorful fats, while with Shabu Shabu the flavored broth heated by an incredibly hot rock releases and encourages them to bloom, offering more of a slightly melted silky texture. Words like rich, buttery, and unctuous describe fast high heat preparations of Kobe and they are indeed special. However, I have no words to describe the sensation of this dish. I will tell you it ended a headache that I had in my temples and I spent most of the rest of the evening with the aromas running through my head in rather blissful contemplation.
There are many reasons to be into trying Kobe and it is an amazing ingredient. If your inspiration is that you are into flavor contemplation and you have an opportunity to try it as Shabu Shabu I think it is well worth taking.
Not sure why I never posted a report on the meal; maybe because I didn’t keep good enough notes, or didn’t want to concede my wrongness to Mark. Either way it was an exceptional meal. I did shoot it, though. Here are the pics of the Kobe Shabu Shabu course: