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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

GAWA Day #7: Miyazaki Wagyu Beef--THE BEST STEAK IN THE WORLD!

As I'm in the middle of my Japan Rail Pass Shinkansen adventure, I can report that the bullet train will finally get to Hokkaido on March 26 next year.  The terminus will be Hakodate, but it will take until 2030 for the extension to Sapporo.

The train ride yesterday was a pleasant ordeal.  Seat in a slightly reclined position, fall asleep, eat and drink something, shishi...repeat...with minor moments of tension in Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo, when I had to transfer trains and find new edibles and imibibles.  Miyazaki is 700 miles from Tokyo.  It took me more than 12 hours from the Tokyo Westin to the Sheraton Grand Ocean Resort in Miyazaki.

It was more than six years ago that Pearl and I spent a few days here.  My review was mostly positive, but:

I regret if I'm making this all sound so doomsdayish for the facility because the whole Seagaia experience is wonderful and relaxing. We most definitely will want to someday return, so let me begin my crusade to draw some positive attention. After all, the G8 Nations met here in 2000. Next, perhaps the G20, with the advantage being that no one will be able to find this site to protest.

When I got here yesterday, I received another silver shock.  THE BEST Miyazaki wagyu restaurant in the world, located in this hotel, is Miyachiku (there is another one in Ginza).  I could not get a reservation because the hotel is filled to capacity.  I came all the way here just for this beef.  Drats, Silver Week.

I did my persuasive best, but in the outposts of Japan, they do not speak English very well, and my persuasive powers just did not work.  The staff was supremely polite and pathologically nice, and they succeeded in diverting my request, such that I ended up agreeing to a teppan yaki lunch and Miyazaki Japanese restaurant dinner, both guaranteed to serve Miyazaki beef if you paid enough.  Okay, not so terrible, and maybe, cheaper.


What is so great about Miyazaki wagyu beef, anyway?  Well, the best beef in Japan, which means World, is said to come from here:

Miyazaki Wagyu has won various awards from the industry, including the most honoured "National Wagyu Award" by the Wagyu Registry Association in Japan. The award, also known as the "Wagyu's Academy Award", is given to the best cattle once every five years. Each time, more than 400 wagyu from some 30 places of origin would compete in the event which is attended by imperial family members. The beef are judged by their colour, fat distribution, meat fibres and taste. The National Wagyu Award has now gone to Miyazaki Wagyu two consecutive times meaning it has held the reigns for ten years! With its outstanding meat quality and breeding ability, the Miyazaki Wagyu won the "Prime Minister Award" in 2007. They also beat the beef from Kobe and Matsuzaka and became the overall winner - winning seven out of the nine contests - at the event. Miyazaki Wagyu has been called "Japan's Number One Beef" ever since.

This is the beef that is sold every so often at Marukai in Honolulu.  The sirloin there first sold for less than $60/pound, but went up to $90/pound two days later.  I'm still waiting for the rib eye, and, interestingly enough, in the two restaurants experienced below, the best they had was filet.  Here is a web site where you can purchase Miyazaki wagyu beef.  Expect to pay more than $100/pound.

I will definitely gain weight today, for this was my breakfast:


I noticed three gorgeous aqua vases in the lobby:


On the grounds, the largest hibiscus I've ever seen:


That's a 1000 yen bill, which is larger than a dollar.  Then a beautiful black butterfly:


So, anyway, for lunch today, I went to Fukami, a teppanyaki.  However, this is not like Benihana, for each new customer, whether one or ten in the group, gets his own chef.  I ordered the filet, and with a small bottle of sake, paid around $100:


The steak was terrific, service efficient and food excellent.  I was out of there in a little more than half an hour.  There were 40 seats, most were filled, and the average age was half mine.  I think I just might be the oldest person staying there.

(I will spend a whole posting tomorrow on Toyotama, and the title will be:  My Best Japanese Dinner for less than $100.)

I should finally add that the Sheraton Grand Ocean Resort is not only Miyazaki beef.  This is a very large hotel with nearly 750 rooms, now in business for 22 years.  My room is huge, with four picture windows.  I love my bathroom.  There is a whole range of onsens here, free for me.  For few events a year you can't find a room here, but for 90% of the time, the occupancy is very, very low.  My room has a panoramic view, with a golf course designed by Tom Watson:


If I were to play today, the cost would have been in the range of $160, with cart and rental clubs.  As busy as this hotel is, I hardly see anyone actually golfing.  They even have night golf here:


Across the street is Florante Miyazaki, a well-manicured botanical park.

The Tokyo Westin and Sheraton Grand Ocean Resort are around the same age.  The Westin is stale, while there is new vitality to this Sheraton.  That seemingly tiny building I'm in has 43 floors.  I'll need to come back once more, at least to experience Miyachiku, although Toyotama will be an absolute must meal.

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Oh, oh, a new storm just popped up in the West Pacific, and current projections show a strengthening into at least to a Category 3, and a path towards Japan:


I leave Japan Sunday.

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