Diner in disguise / “Is Kobe here today?”
“Kobe beef” refers to cuts of beef from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, raised according to strict tradition. The meat is generally considered to be a delicacy, renowned for its flavor, tenderness and fatty, well-marbled texture.
The last couple of years has seen this type of beef skyrocket in popularity. The cattle are pampered with a steady diet of premium grass and, believe it or not, beer. According to the owner of the wonderfully appointed Kobe Sushi & Grill in Cameron Park, the cattle are given daily “full body massages.”
I’ve always wanted to taste first hand what all this fuss is about and I figured the best way to do that would be in the form of a hamburger. It’s a familiar form to compare apples to apples. If this Kobe beef is so superior in texture and flavor I’d be able to recognize it right away.
It’s a full half-pound of beef on a very fluffy Chiabatta roll with a minimum of fixin’s, mustard being the primary condiment. In other words, a blank slate that lets the beef be the star attraction. The burger was hot, juicy and flavorful. I detected a nice hint of cracked pepper and the texture seemed to be smoother than burgers made with regular beef. Tasty, tasty, tasty!
Rook ordered the “Bento Box #1”, which consisted of generous portions of beef teriyaki, California rolls, tempura vegetables, a side salad, seasoned cucumbers and steamed rice.
Linda had the “Johnny Rock & Roll” from the Maki Sushi end of the menu. It comes served on a large, rectangular plate and consists of shrimp, crab meat and spicy tuna rolled and topped with a sauce entitled “onion torch,”which the server said was a little bit spicy. Linda cut off a small portion for me to try and while I really enjoyed it I didn’t find the sauce to be all that spicy.
Susie decided on the lettuce wraps, listed on the menu as a starter course but definitely ample enough to satisfy her appetite. It’s an appealing combination of chicken breast, pine nuts, mushrooms, water chestnuts, celery and carrots all tossed in a sweet chili sauce, and served with crisp “lettuce cups.”
Kobe Sushi & Grill’s menu is extremely varied and offers a number of creative choices like the Mushroom Boms (a large mushroom top with salmon and tofu marinade that’s deep fried and baked to crisply perfection), the Bulgogi taco (marinated beef rib-eye with fresh salso and a warm corn tortilla) and a seared albacore steak salad with garlic Ponzu dressing.
Of course they also offer a wide array of sushi specialties, and for more adventurous eaters they have their “Unagi Don — charbroiled fresh water eel over rice!
Prices are reasonable, $6 (chicken teriyaki) to $14 (the Flaming Dragon Maki sushi).
Kobe Sushi & Grill is located in the Burke Junction shopping center in Cameron Park and specializes in Kobe beef products (naturally!), Korean barbecue and sushi dishes. For more information call (530) 672-9210 or visit www.kobesushiandgrill.com.