Enjoy exclusive and exquisite Iga Beef at one of Mie’s most popular sukiyaki restaurants

Enjoy exclusive and exquisite Iga Beef at one of Mie’s most popular sukiyaki restaurants

Mie Prefecture is famous in Japan for producing delicious beef under strict conditions. The most well known is Matsusaka Beef, which can be found around the country in upscale restaurants and meat shops. The other famous locally raised beef is Iga Beef, which has actually been around longer than Matsusaka Beef and is considered by many to be equally delicious. Another thing that makes Iga Beef special is that it is only available in the area around Iga due to the small amount that is produced each year. This has caused some people to refer to the exclusive meat as “the phantom beef”. To try this local delicacy, I visited one of the most popular Iga Beef restaurants, Moritsuji, which raises cattle on its own ranch resulting in a true farm-to-table experience for beef lovers.

Written by Nathan Raymond
About the Author:

I live in Gifu with my family, and enjoy any opportunity to share my experiences in Japan with others so they can learn more about this amazing country. I believe that Japanese culture has something to offer visitors from anywhere in the world.

When I visited Iga and heard that Iga Beef is considered by some to be equal to Matsusaka Beef in quality, I knew I had to try it for myself. Japanese beef is very different from the beef that is usually eaten in America and the high fat content creates a melt in your mouth richness and texture that has to be experienced if you are a meat lover like I am.

I chose to go for my Iga Beef meal at Moritsuji, one of the most popular restaurants in Iga. When I arrived at Moritsuji for my meal, I was amazed by the elegant interior of the restaurant. It was designed with a traditional Japanese aesthetic, which created a sense of fine dining. The atmosphere inside was peaceful and there were beautiful accent pieces on display throughout the restaurant. The friendly and professional staff welcomed me warmly and showed me to my table.

Caption: The restaurant was beautifully designed in a traditional Japanese style.

Caption: The art on display and the warm colors of the wood created a serene atmosphere.

Moritsuji is very unique in that they produce Iga Beef on Moritsuji Farm, which is their own cattle ranch. This was something that I thought was amazing and I was sure that their reputation as one of the best places to eat Iga Beef was well deserved. In addition to being a farm-to-table restaurant, they also have a butcher shop where you can buy their beef directly or order it online to be shipped anywhere in Japan.

Caption: My Japanese style private room was comfortable and refined.

In many traditional Japanese restaurants, patrons sit on the floor with their legs underneath them or crossed in front. In the private rooms at Moritsuji, I was pleased to find out that the table had a sunken leg space under the table allowing me to sit comfortably for my meal.

The simple and elegant design of the restaurant continued into the private dining rooms. Every element of Moritsuji contributes to the dining experience and the service was impeccable. My anticipation of my first taste of Iga Beef started to grow as I ordered my meal and drink from the server. 

Caption: My non-alcoholic beer was a perfect flavor accent to the beef.

I was driving, so I couldn’t have a regular beer with my meal. Of course, a crisp beer is the perfect companion to a meal featuring marbled beef, so I ordered a non-alcoholic beer that did the trick. When my order arrived, the staff set up everything at my table and I was ready to see my meal cook right in front of me. 

The slices of beef looked incredible and they went into the pot first. I could see all of marbled fat in the meat, which meant I was in for a real treat. It is the high fat content that gives Japanese beef its world-renowned richness of flavor. The fact that I was about to eat an exclusive kind of beef that can only be found in Iga made me appreciate the experience even more.
There was an array of other fresh ingredients to add as the dish continued to cook and the smell of the beef was starting to fill the cozy room and make my mouth water.

Caption: When the pot was ready, the Iga Beef slices were added and started sizzling.

The next step was to add the fresh ingredients such as mushrooms, tofu and greens to the pot. These would expand the range of flavors in the dish and help to round out the meal into a well-balanced experience of texture and taste.

Caption: The vegetables helped create a healthy and well-balanced dish.

To add even more flavor, some stock mixed with soy sauce, sweet sake and sugar was added to the dish. Once the sukiyaki stock went in, the aromas coming from the bubbling pot were truly incredible and it looked absolutely stunning. I was so excited to eat my meal and the process of cooking it at my table was the kind of food experience that makes traveling around Japan so much fun. 

Caption: The sukiyaki stock pushed the flavors through the roof.

It was finally time for me to taste the famous Iga Beef. I reminded myself that the beef I was about to eat had been raised on a farm owned by the restaurant and felt so blessed to have this great food experience. The beef practically melted in my mouth when I took the first bite and the flavor was unbelievable. It was easily the best tasting beef I had ever tried.

Caption: The Iga Beef was the most delicious I had ever eaten.

The richness of the beef combined with the flavors from the vegetables and stock was a delectable combination. I forced myself to take it slow and savor every bite of the beef. Since moving to Japan, I have learned to take my time and appreciate a great meal when I get to have one.

Caption: I enjoyed every part of my incredible meal at Moritsuji.

In addition to the Iga Beef, my set meal came with rice, miso soup and other small side dishes. I made sure to try each element of my meal in turn to appreciate the range of flavors and textures of my awesome meal. Everything had been perfect and the atmosphere, service, cooking process and delicious fresh ingredients had come together to create one of the most amazing food experiences of my life.

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