Singapore Top Travel, Beauty, Food, Lifestyle Blog

Friday, October 28, 2016

Japan! Osaka: Our $230 Dinner at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M

Matsusaka Yakiniku M - DX Platter
As you know, Japan is FAMOUS for their beef. Wagyu beef (the generic name for all Japanese-bred beef), Kobe beef, Hida beef.. There are so many names to the cows in Japan that it's downright confusing. So here's one more that you might have heard about - Matsusaka Beef, considered as one of the top three brands of beef in Japan!

My initial plan was to make a day trip to Kobe for their famed Kobe Beef, but as time didn't permit, we had to scrap that idea. Still intent on tasting the best beef that Japan has to offer (after having a small taste of kobe/wagyu at Ichiba Kuromon Market previously), I came upon reviews for a highly-raved yakiniku restaurant, Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M and managed to make a booking for dinner on a Sunday night!

Some interesting information about Matsusaka (or Matsuzaka - seems to be used interchangeably) Beef below:

Matsuzaka beef has some of the most expensive cuts and is considered by many enthusiasts to be the best kind of beef in Japan. Female cows raised in the quiet and serene area around Matsuzaka in Mie Prefecture are slaughtered before being bred, and this virgin meat is said to be the tenderest in the world. 

Known for its high fat content and characteristic marbling patterns that border on fine art, Matsuzaka beef has a rich, meaty flavor and begins to melt as soon as it enters your mouth. A standard Matsuzaka will go for around $10,000 while the most expensive one was sold for $392,000 in 1989…holy cow!

Wikipedia even mentions that Matsusaka cows are fed sake and given massages to stimulate their appetite... WHaaaaat?

In Japan, besides eating affordably and cheaply without breaking the bank, you can also enjoy quality Japanese dining at a reasonable (but still expensive) price that's value-for-money and hard to find anywhere else in the world! We decided that this would be our expensive worth-while splurge for the trip - What's a holiday without some sort of indulgence, right?

Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M, Hozenji Yokocho




1-1-19 Nanba, Chuo Ward,
Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0076, Japan

Make a reservation / Book online on Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M's website

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Heading to Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M!
We picked Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M at Hozenji Yokocho because it was the closest branch to our Airbnb apartment: There are a few branches around Dotonbori and you can check out the entire list of restaurants on Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M's website here.

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Along the way to Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M Hozenji Yokocho
Tip: Please make your booking at least two or three days in advance, because they are always fully booked out, that's how popular Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M is. We called on Thursday night, intending to book for Saturday, but it was full! Thankfully, they had a free slot on Sunday evening, so we ended up booking for Sunday instead. 

Also, remember to arrive promptly at the restaurant because once your grace period of 15 minutes is up, your reservation will be given away.

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Entrance of Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M - Hozenji Yokocho
It's a tiny restaurant in a small side alley leading from the main shopping arcade and we might have missed it if not for the help of Google Maps! Look for their iconic "M" logo, and you'll know that you're at the right place.

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Settled down at a grill table
After checking for our reservation, we were ushered into the small and posh-looking restaurant and brought to a tiny booth that fit two of us, one at either side of a grill set into the middle of the table. 

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Thankfully, the menu came in English and our waiter turned out to be a Taiwanese lady, so we didn't have any issues with communication. I had initially set my mind on ordering the Premium Course set (that comes with salad, sushi, rice, and dessert) but after some recommendations by our waitress, we ended up with the Matsusaka Beef DX Platter instead.

Matsusaka Beef DX Platter

With the platter, you get six different parts of Matsusaka beef with grilled vegetables at 13,800 yen for 2 pax (before tax). If you're carnivorous and want the best value-for-money in terms of more meat, the DX Platter is your best bet.

If you prefer a more balanced meal with appetizers, sushi, salad, rice, and dessert but with less meat, the Special Course or Premium Course might be up your alley instead.


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Our DX platter arrived and boy, it looked SO good! Full marks for presentation, and we also appreciated the English translations printed out for us.

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Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M - DX Platter
In our DX Platter, we got the following parts:
-Today's Special (I forgot what it was)
-Ranichi
-Lean Shoulder
-Sirloin Steak
-M Ribeye
-Ohtoro Karubi

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Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M - DX Platter
Quite a generous portion of such extremely well-marbled beef parts. We were salivating at the sight of the meat and raring to start!

Yuzu cider

We also ordered a yuzu cider to go with the grilled meat, which was a good choice!

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The garlic fried rice came highly-recommended, and the very first mouthful had us both smitten! This has got to be the best fried rice I've ever had, fragrant, salty (I like salty food) and simply exploding with flavor. The staff will mix the rice up for you such that every fluffy grain of rice is coated in delicious fat and other magic ingredients. I have no idea how they made this taste so good, but it was pure decadence.

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The grilling needs to be done by yourself, which I was just a tad worried about because I really didn't want to end up paying so much money and then spoiling my own dinner by my inept cooking skills.

It wasn't too difficult, thankfully. YZ did most of the cooking and our meat turned out fine!

You just need to oil the grill sufficiently with the beef fat provided, and watch the grill and cook the meat by leaving it on for a couple of minutes before turning it over to cook the other side. The waitress advised us to start with the leaner cuts like the Ranichi and Lean Shoulder before moving on to the prime cuts for a better dining experience, which we obediently followed.

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Verdict?

Apart from the very lean parts of meat which I found to be too tough for my liking, the Matsusaka beef was indeed exquisite! Salt, soy sauce and some other fancy sauce were provided, but I liked my grilled meat simply with a bit of salt to enhance the already mind-blowing flavor. The fat marbling provided a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture and the simple method of grilling brought out the juiciness and tenderness of the Matsusaka Beef. Every bite was pure bliss!

The Ohtoro Karubi was the richest of all and was practically dripping with fat the second we put it on the grill. Tip: Fattier cuts are best eaten with some rice, to balance out the richness of the meat.  I've never seen such well-marbled beef in my life, and it was astounding how much oil the meat produced!

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We rounded up our dinner with brown sugar warabi mochi and yuzu sorbet. The warabi mochi was soft and chewy, but it was hard to stomach more than a couple of pieces with the sweet brown sugar sauce. However, I really enjoyed the yuzu sorbet which was tart and refreshing, helping to wash down the rich grilled meat that we had.

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A good end to a very satisfying dinner, our total bill came up to 17,290 yen, roughly SGD230.

Considering that we paid around SGD110 per person for a decent amount of premium high-quality Matsusaka beef, I thought it was worth the splurge and dining experience! Especially in comparison to any premium steakhouse in Singapore where forking out over SGD150 per pax is standard fare.

That being said, those with more voracious appetites will definitely not be full on this meal; I know YZ got hungry a couple hours after our dinner! Manage your expectations by knowing what you're paying for, and you'll definitely enjoy this meal at Matsusaka Yakiniku M.

If I ever visit again, I would probably go for the parts I enjoyed the most (Like the M Ribeye and Sirloin Steak) and fill up with the other non-Matsusaka meats available, such as regular wagyu beef, pork or even seafood for a satisfying and affordable meal!

Now, I know what a virgin black-haired cow tastes like, and it was delicious. #offthebucketlist


PS. All photos in this blog post were taken with the Olympus E-PL8 or iPhone 7 plus.




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