If Kobe keef is king, then Matsuzaka beef is the supreme king with its finest quality. The general impression of people outside of Japan is that Kobe beef is the best meat from cattle. Matsuzaka beef is not exported out of Japan and thus becoming a well kept gem unbeknownst to many. People outside of Japan also very probably have not heard of Matsuzaka beef and hence, Kobe beef instead becomes the center of talk among people wanting to consume fine beef. The Matsuzaka cattle are gently massaged and beer-fed during its life. They are reared to live a longer than other breeds in order to develop a fuller texture and flavor.
"Have you heard of Matsuzaka beef?", our server asks us proudly. "Well, you know Kobe beef? Matsuzaka beef is a grade higher and better." T and I are seated in a small private room (though it is more accurately an alcove) that comfortably seats 2 people. The menu comprises of dinner seats and ala carte. We decide on the latter option in order to try other non meat-ish items as well. In the menu, there are 4 categories of meat according to the levels of leanness and marbling. Within each category are 4 types of cuts.
A cube of beef fat is provided to oil the grill before cooking the meat ourselves. A side of seasoned salt, sweet sauce, and wasabi with soy sauce are provided for dipping. The ohtoro karubi which is described as the best quality for Kalbi beef (rib) has the most marbling in the rib area. At each bite, this texture is tender and smooth like butter thanks to the rich marbling. It melts in the mouth. Due to its high quality, the ohtoro doesn't leave you with a heavy feeling. The maboroshi no misuji cut is from the shoulder area and has a rich flavor to it. A little leaner than the ohtoro, the maboroshi is also well marbled and very tender with a beefier flavor.
Other not quite meat-ish items offered include horumon (intestines) and gyutan (beef tongue). The beef gristles soup is an interesting offering that is prepared with collagen. For those not keen on collagen, the seaweed soup is a pleaser as well.
Note: Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku has 2 locations about a 3-min walk a apart. This location along Hozenji Yokocho has private rooms only; the other location is a dining room.