What is Bungo Beef?
Today I’m going to introduce one of Japan’s premium wagyu dishes, Bungo Beef! I’m sure you’ve heard of Kobe Beef and wagyu before…. so how does Bungo Beef fit into the mix?
Simply put, wagyu (和牛) means Japanese cow. (和 is pronounced ‘wa‘ and means Japanese, while 牛 is pronounced ‘gyuu‘ and means cow. Look, my Japanese classes are paying off!)
There are four breeds of native Japanese cow, and only these are considered true wagyu beef in Japan. (The standards for classifying wagyu beef are different between the US and Japan). Kobe Beef and (lesser known but still delicious) Bungo Beef are types of wagyu.
Bungo beef is raised in Oita prefecture, a region two hours away from central Fukuoka. I came across this delicacy during my planning research and knew it was something I had to try!
(If you haven’t read my Kobe Beef post, check it out too!)
Bungo Beef in Yufuin, Oita: Yufu Mabushi Shin
To taste this premium dish, I visited Yufu Mabushi Shin in Yufuin, Oita. This restaurant is known for their Bungo Beef set (complete with a hot pot of rice and meat, an appetizer platter, and soup). Since this location is cash-only, be sure to come prepared!
The signature dish is called Bungo Beef Mabushi and costs ¥2,700 without tax. In addition to the set, I decided to also get a yuzu drink to refresh and cool off.
First out came an appetizer platter filled with a variety of delectables. A plum based morsel, okra slices, curried potatoes, fish cake, egg roll, yam chips, and more.
Next came a plate of tsukemono (pickled vegetables), a shitake miso soup, and a tray full of sauces and spices.
The main course comprised of a beautiful ceramic bowl filled with rice and topped with the Bungo Beef. A brown glaze was drizzled on top.
The meat was cut into thin slices that glowed a rosy medium-rare pink. The rice at the bottom of the bowl had cooked and browned to a crisp just like in Korean bibimbap. (Is your mouth starting to water yet?)
Eating Bungo Beef
Reminiscent of my experience at Kappo Yoshida (where I had delicious sea bream ochazuke), there were three different stages to eat and enjoy the main course.
The first way was to eat the beef as it came or in bites paired with the pickled veggies. From the first taste, my senses were in heaven. The beef’s succulent marbling melted in my mouth – a sensation that was highlighted with the contrasting crisp and tang of the vegetables.
Next, you could further enhance the flavor of the meat with added sauces and seasonings. Everything from soy sauce, Bungo Beef sauce, yuzu pepper paste, wasabi, and sanshou– a numbing herb, were avaliable for experimenting.
My favorite combination was to drizzle the meat with a bit more sauce, then add a smear of yuzu pepper paste on top for a spicy kick.
Finally, with a little bit of meat and rice left, the last step was to pour a light broth over top and enjoy it all in a new soupy form.
After finishing my meal, I was full and happily satisfied. With different ways to enjoy the beef, I was reminded just how much I love meals that involve more than simply eating.
A bit of experimenting, play, and transformation take eating to a whole new level.
For any meat eaters visiting Oita Prefecture, be sure to give Bungo Beef a try!
In Oita Prefecture? Read about these top things to do in the area!
- Herbal Steam Bath– Oita | A relaxing detox steam bath and onsen experience!
Hungry For More? Check out some of the other favorite restaurants I’ve visited in Japan!