Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse is a unique restaurant that offers traditional Japanese teppanyaki cooking with a show.
When we say “with a show” we don’t mean like in dinner theatre. Rather, the dining experience is entertaining because the food is cooked in front of guests by chefs who cook with flare (plus occasionally toss their knives and set things on fire).
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, indoor dining at restaurants was prohibited starting on March 29th. As a result of this temporary ban, Kobe closed it’s doors until late May.
As of May 25th, provincial restrictions have loosened. Indoor dining is permitted for groups of six or fewer people. For the most up-to-date information regarding the status of the restaurant, visit the Kobe Japanese Steakhouse website.
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse
Kobe is a fancy Japanese steakhouse in downtown Vancouver. The restaurant is known for its teppanyaki hibachi-style cooking. Kobe is also unique in that all food is prepared fresh right in front of diners on the grill.
The restaurant has been a staple in Vancouver since 1968. When it opened, it was one of Canada’s first Japanese steakhouses.
Location and Hours
Found at 1042 Alberni Street, Kobe Steakhouse has a central location in the core of downtown Vancouver. The place is just a short walk from Pacific Centre Mall, the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel and the Robson Street shopping district.
Kobe is open every day for dinner. Seating times are usually from 5:00 until 8:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 9:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 4:30 to 8:00 pm on Sundays. The restaurant closes 2 hours after the last seating time.
About Kobe Steakhouse
Teppanyaki, also referred to as hibachi, refers to a style of cooking where the food is grilled on a hot metal plate. Kobe serves a variety of Japanese-style surf-and-turf dishes. All dishes are prepared on the grill and served fresh.
Up to 8 guests can sit at a table at Kobe. Unlike most other restaurants in the Lower Mainland, more than one party sits together at each table (unless one party already has 8 people).
Tables at the restaurant are arranged in a U-shape around a grill. The U-shape ensures that all diners at the table are able to see the show put on by their chef. Expect to see fancy knife work, flipping food and maybe even fire!
Due to COVID-19, as of 2020, there are now plexiglass barriers separating sections of the table for different groups of diners. In addition, only a limited number of diners are allowed in the restaurant at a time.
To get an idea of what the food and experience is like, imagine a really fancy Edo Japan (which is a fast-food restaurant at shopping malls where they do the cooking in front of you). The style of cooking is similar, but with Kobe you get to sit down, the cooking involves more entertainment and the experience is most enjoyable.
About Teppanyaki Cooking
Teppanyaki and hibachi are authentic styles of Japanese cooking that originated in the post WWII era. In Japanese “teppan” is the name of the metal grill or plate that the food is cooked on. “Yaki,” meanwhile, means fried or grilled.
Restaurants exactly like Kobe are not actually that common in Japan. They exist, yes, but they aren’t everywhere in the country.
We lived in Japan for 5 years, and we ate out a lot, but never actually at a restaurant quite like Kobe. That being said, it’s common for cooks in Japan to work in areas that are visible to customers. Cooking on teppan hot plates, like those at Kobe, are also common (especially for noodles like yakisoba or cabbage pancake-style dishes like okonomiyaki).
More common in Japan than having chefs cook meat dishes at your table as they do at Kobe are restaurants where you cook the food in front of yourself (either on a grill, a barbecue or in a pot of soup). Restaurants in Japan with a set-up, menu and style all like Kobe tend to be expensive and not places you would eat at every day. Historically they have also tended to be more popular with tourists.
What we especially like about Kobe in Vancouver is the entertainment element of the cooking. It’s a wonderful experience. Although we never ate at a restaurant exactly like Kobe in Japan, doing so reminds us very much of Japan, its culture and Japanese restaurants. If you’ve never been, and you like Japanese food, you should check out this place. It’s highly recommended!
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions to help you get the most out of your Japanese dining experience.
TIP #1: If you want a dining experience that’s both wonderfully tasty and entertaining, then definitely try Kobe. It’s one of our favourite restaurants.
TIP #2: The beef, chicken and seafood dinners are all delicious. Because everything is cooked on the same grill, and because it’s a steakhouse, however, Kobe might not be the best place to go if you’re a strict vegetarian. They have vegetarian options, but the place is famous for its meats.
TIP #3: Kobe isn’t inexpensive (which is understandable given the style of the place and the cooking). To save money, get an Entertainment Coupon Book if you don’t already have one. Kobe usually has a 2-for-1 coupon in the book, which makes eating out there a fabulous deal. (Note: There is a limit of one coupon per party per visit.)
TIP #4: We love Japanese food and are fans of a number of places in Vancouver. Kobe is perhaps our favourite because of the entertainment aspect of the cooking. The food is also really good. Another great place is Gyu-Kyaku which is located at 888 Nelson (so just a 10-minute walk away). At Gyu-Kyaku you cook your own food at your own private table (which is a style of restaurant we ate at frequently in Japan).
TIP #5: Whether eating at Kobe or Gyu-Kyaku, because of the cooking in-front-of-you element, these restaurants are especially fun places to take friends. (Just don’t do that though until COVID-19 is better under control and health authorities say it’s okay to eat with people other than folk from within your own household.)
For more details about this establishment visit the official Kobe Steakhouse website.
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