Thursday, March 30, 2017

Feb-ulous Kyoto: Omi Beef Lunch

Shiga Prefecture is famous for its Omi beef (近江牛). This premium breed, named after the ancient name of Shiga, is known as the top 3 wagyu breeds in Japan along with Matsusaka beef from Mie and Kobe beef from Hyogo. So of course we wouldn't want to miss the opportunity of getting a taste of the beef while spending our time in Shiga as part of our weekend getaway.

We already had our Omi Beef shabu-shabu while spending the night at Ogoto-onsen and the next day, after checking out from the ryokan, we headed one station away to the town of Katada and have lunch at a local restaurant called Daikichi, about 10 minutes away from the train station on foot.

The restaurant specializes in beef, especially Omi beef coming from their own ranch. On the ground floor was their retail shop, having a good range of beef for sale in the refrigerated unit, from the regular wagyu to the prized omi beef in various cuts. And upstairs was their restaurant, with tables for yakiniku where you cook your own meat on the table-top grill, or the teppanyaki counter where the chef will in front of you. That plus private room available for functions.

They serve a wide variety of dishes for lunch - one can choose different cuts of beef in different size for shabu-shabu or yakiniku at the table, or one of the beef rice set which was prepared at the kitchen. We went for yakiniku this time and ordered the marbled meat set plus one platter with rare cuts.

Our food arrived in 5 minutes, along with bowl of rice, pickles, soup and condiments for the grilled meat, all included in our sets. Well, I don't have a palate fine enough to tell a big difference between Omi Beef with other breeds of Japanese-raised Wagyu, but we definitely got great value for money with the beef we got here. The thick slices of beef has great flavor and balanced texture, almost melted in my mouth without leaving a fatty after-taste like when you swallow a slab of butter, which was sometimes the case for wagyu beef I have tasted.

The platter of rare cuts was clearly marked with their names, but we didn't get to know the details until we went home and checked on the dictionary of where each cut came from. But my favorite was the one called "Misuji" (ミスジ) which was marbled, delicate yet with rich meaty flavor, coming from the shoulder area - similar to what we referred to as "不見天", I suppose (?). It's considered one of the rarer cuts and only a small amount is available from each cow butchered. All it took was briefly grilled on the hot plate and I didn't even need any additional seasoning for the piece.

We were one of the earlier customers to arrive but by the time we left, we realized the restaurant was packed, so guess that's a good sign of its reputation and quality of food, especially considered the restaurant is a bit out of the way and Katata is a only small countryside town. The restaurant is actually a place we only randomly stumbled across when we searched for beef restaurant in Shiga (well, having an easy-to-remember website address certainly helped) But we certainly don't mind making this detour for a good beef lunch again - and when we do so, we probably would try their Teppanyaki meal at their special counter which is available only on weekends and required advanced booking.

When? February 20 2017
Where? Daikichi Restaurant Katada, 2-25-11, Imakatata, Otsu-shi, Shiga Prefecture, Japan
農家レストランだいきち堅田店 滋賀県大津市今堅田2丁目25-11
Menu Highlights? Yakiniku Platter of Five Kinds in Rare Cuts

(Feb-ulous Kyoto Part 10 - check out the whole series here!)

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