What To Eat in Kobe: Kobe Beef, Gyoza, Sushi and More

By Lucy Baker
Updated: October 30, 2023

At the base of Mt. Rokko, the port city of Kobe is only a 30-minute train ride from downtown Osaka. Far more subdued than its rambunctious no-rules neighbor, Kobe is a quaint, multicultural town best explored on foot.

Once serving as a major port for Kansai, Kobe had a lot of contact with other cultures. The city is home to one of Japan’s three biggest Chinatowns, Nankinmachi, founded by the Chinese merchants who settled there.

Kobe instantly brings to mind one thing: Kobe beef. While Kobe beef is, of course, world-class and undeniably delicious, the city of Kobe has much more to offer than simply just meat.

Not sure what to eat in Kobe other than their famous beef? Sandwiched between the mountains and the sea, the food in Kobe sees a lot of influence from these elements, as well as culinary input from the greater Hyogo Prefecture and the neighboring Kansai region.

What Are the Must-Try Dishes in Kobe?

Here are some of the top foods to eat in Kobe:

  1. Kobe Beef
  2. Chuka Ryori (Japanese-Chinese Cuisine)
  3. Akashiyaki
  4. Korokke (Croquette)
  5. Gyoza
  6. Sushi
  7. Cheesecake Soft Cream
  8. Japanese Sake

1. Kobe Beef

Kobe beef from Japan

Besides the coincidental association with basketball, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Kobe is probably Kobe beef, a type of wagyu beef. Marbled and succulent, Kobe beef is up there alongside Matsusaka, Omi, and Hida beef as one of the most famous wagyu brands in Japan.

Kobe beef comes from purebred black Japanese cattle of the Tajima breed, and has to pass a number of strict requirements to officially be bestowed with the label of Kobe beef, like having been raised in Hyogo Prefecture. You've probably heard stories of Kobe cattle being pampered with massages, beers and classical music. While this luxurious lifestyle can be neither confirmed nor denied, Kobe beef is worth eating. The only catch is that it comes with a hefty price tag.

Full of flavor and tender when cooked, there are many ways to have Kobe beef. Though it's popularly enjoyed as steak or grilled on a teppanyaki hot plate, Kobe beef is also used in nabe hot pots and fried dishes.

2. Chuka Ryori (Japanese-Chinese Cuisine)

Chinese food from Chinatown in Japan

Kobe served as an essential port to the Kansai area once Japan opened up foreign trade, gaining access to foods of the world. Chuka ryori (or Japanese-Chinese cuisine) in Kobe has since had a long legacy once Chinese merchants settled within the city, leaving Kobe now with one of the three biggest Chinatowns in Japan, Nankinmachi. Full of wondrous street food and restaurants, Peking duck, fried dumplings and pork buns are just some of the many Chinese foods you must eat while in Kobe.

Check out our Kobe Chinatown street food guide to read about the must-try chuka ryori spots in Nankinmachi.

3. Akashiyaki

Hailing from Hyogo Prefecture, akashiyaki is the long-lost cousin of takoyaki, the famous octopus balls from Osaka and the greater Kansai area. Both are dumplings made from a loose batter containing pieces of octopus. The difference is that akashiyaki's batter is eggier and the dumplings come with a dashi broth for dipping.

4. Korokke (Croquette)

Many croquettes in Japan

Korokke is a simple yet delicious fried food and a type of Western-style food (yoshoku). It consists of a meat or vegetable mixture formed into patties, panko-crumbed and deep-fried. Sure, they're a common snack around Japan, typically with fillings mixed with mashed potato, but they're particularly delicious in Kobe. There are many famous croquette shops throughout Kobe; some even feature the famous Kobe beef, making it an especially indulging snack.

5. Gyoza

Gyoza plate

We briefly touched on dumplings in the chuka ryori section, but gyoza in Kobe must get their own mention. Of course, gyoza were introduced from China, but the presence of Nankinmachi Chinatown has assured a strong Chinese influence and, hence, an enduring love of dumplings in Kobe. Gyoza are especially delicious in Kobe due to the high-quality meats used in the area.

6. Sushi

Sushi made from Japanese beef

The portside location of Kobe means that there is amazing access to seafood in the city. It's only natural that Kobe sushi is exceptionally fresh and tasty, with a wide variety of fish and flavors available year-round. While it's not strictly seafood, you can get pieces of nigiri "sushi" topped with slices of Kobe beef for a delicious sushi fusion.

7. Cheesecake Soft Cream

Kazamitori honpo's ice cream

Now, what to eat in Kobe for dessert? The Kobe's Kitaro-cho area is a quaint place to explore for an afternoon, full of well-preserved houses built by foreign residents in the wake of World War II. Here, you'll find Kazamidori Honpo, where you can get the best dessert in Kobe: cheesecake soft serve ice cream!

Complete with chunks of cheesecake, this Kobe specialty soft serve ice cream is an essential dessert to try on a trip to Kobe. Although, if you're not a cheese fan, they also have other interesting flavors on offer. Kazamidori is one of Kobe's most popular souvenir shops, where you can also get cheesecake soufflés, baked cheese tarts and more.

8. Japanese Sake

Women serving Japanese sake

Aside from Kobe beef, Kobe has a claim to fame in the Japanese sake game, with the Nada district being one of the top sake-producing areas in the country. Kobe's Nada district ranks in the top 3 best sake-producing areas beside Fushimi in Kyoto and Saijo in Hiroshima, making some serious sake.

Sake from the Nada district is made from "brewer's rice," which is grown from the soil of Mt. Rokko. Rich in minerals from the fertile soil, the rice is of exceptional quality, resulting in sake that is exceptionally delicious. The portside location of Kobe also meant that distribution of this long-standing high-quality sake was easy.

Now you know what to eat in Kobe, from splurging on Kobe beef to indulging in a Chinatown street food feast. With a few hundred yen and a short train ride from Osaka, you can easily make a day trip to Kobe to try its delicacies. 

Stomach growling? Browse food experiences in Hyogo Prefecture.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
Click clap if you like this post
Lucy Baker
Never not hungry, Lucy is an artist and foodie from Australia. You can find her hunting for the next delicious deal, documenting her food, or brunching. She lives firmly by the philosophy that food friends are the best of friends.
Stay in the Loop!
Be the first to know about the latest foodie trends.
Sign up for insider tips & sneak peeks into the diverse world of dining in Japan