Winter in Japan can be a difficult time with the sky going dark in the late afternoon. Evenings don’t have to be so drab in Kobe, from December 6th until December 15th the city lights up for the Kobe Luminaire, a jaw-dropping showcase of illuminations resembling Christmas lights. The Kobe Luminaire started as a commemoration for the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, now it is a festive celebration in the days leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. While you’re in town, be sure to check out these restaurants for enjoying sweets or indulging in the local Kobe beef - before or after the illuminations.
Kobe is a port town and one of the first cities in Japan to be influenced by western countries. The city is still filled with European touches, in both architecture and cuisine. La Resonance is a classy French restaurant serving elegant fare. The ¥3,600 lunch course is recommended, it comes with three appetizers, a main dish (either fish or meat), dessert and an after-meal coffee. Each dish has delicate flavors that reflect each season. Best of all, each dish is elegantly plated, making for a great Instagram shot. La Resonance is perfect for an affordable French lunch, whether you’re celebrating a big event of if you just want to lightly splurge in the daytime.
The lunch course starts from ¥3,600 from 12pm to 3pm (last order 1:30pm) and the dinner course starts from 5,500 JPY from 6pm to 11pm (last order 9:30pm)
Craving French but looking for a cheaper and more casual option? Bistrot Cafe de Paris’ lunch courses start from just ¥1,800 and come with a main dish of your choice, soup and salad. The interior of the bistro has a distinctly bohemian atmosphere with black and white checkered floors and a patio for dining al fresco. Not hungry for lunch? Indulge in a cake set with a cup of coffee for a twist on afternoon tea. Bistrot Cafe de Paris is next to Kitano-cho, a neighborhood where wealthy foreign traders lived in the Meiji period. The neighborhood is a distinct blend of European and Japanese aesthetics, blending right in with the restaurant.
Cake sets start from ¥600 and lunch sets start from ¥1,800. Open from 11am to 10pm.
No trip to Kobe is complete without a Kobe beef dinner. Steak Aoyama is one of the top restaurants to indulge in tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef, born and raised in Kobe. The courses range from ¥2,700 to ¥12,000 for dinner and the indulgence is worth it. The restaurant is small and intimate and the chef and staff are happy to chat. The chef showcases the delicate, raw meat before cooking to your liking, be sure to get a counter seat to see the chef in action. The course comes with an appetizer, soup, salad with some raw beef - don’t worry, it’s not supposed to be cooked - and of course, the main course. Stay hungry before coming to Steak Aoyama, you’ll want to fully enjoy the tender, marbled beef.
Lunch is from 12pm to 2:30pm and dinner is from 5pm to 9pm. Closed Wednesdays.
Propeller is small and intimate, it looks like entering a cozy cottage with warm lighting and a fireplace. It’s the perfect place to warm up after checking out the Kobe Luminarie, the restaurant is within walking distance. Propeller serves customizable Kobe beef, choose from the menu for your favorite type and quality of steak. Dinner starts from ¥3,300 and comes with your choice of Kobe wagyu, appetizers, dessert and an after-meal drink. An evening walk through the illuminations and a Kobe beef dinner might make for the perfect date but lunch is a steal at ¥1,500 with 50 grams of Wagyu steak and an assortment of appetizers and side dishes
Lunch is from 11am to 3pm and Dinner is from 5pm to 9:30pm.
Located in the classy Oriental Hotel, Main Dining by the House of the Pacific is one elegant spot to indulge. Try the seasonal dinner course, starting from 6,500 JPY. The seasonal dinner course changes every few months and features fresh seafood and Italian fare in three main courses. Go all out with the Kobe beef course for 18,000 JPY, which comes with foie gras, lobster, duck and pufferfish pasta. Sounds indulgent? The restaurant is on the seventeenth floor of the hotel, boasting city views and if you’re lucky, a peek at the Kobe Luminaire. If you’re itching to be a part of the grand hotel but don’t want to spend big bucks on dinner, try and get a spot for the much more affordable lunch.
Lunch is from 11:30am to 4:30pm (last order 3pm) and starts from 1,600 JPY, Dinner is from 5:30pm to 10:30 pm (lat order 10pm) and starts from 3,900 JPY.