This time we will recommend some of the best restaurants to enjoy one of Aso’s main delicacies, namely “Akaushi beef”.
Among the many specialties of Aso, the Akaushi beef is one that any carnivore shouldn’t miss for the world. Lately, it is frequently featured on TV and the popularity is growing increasingly!
So, “Akaushi”? Let’s take it from the beginning and find out more about this popular cow.
When you travel around Aso, you will be sure to notice brownish cows that leisurely enjoy life on the open wide grasslands. These cows are called “Japanese brown” in English but the Japanese name literally translates to “red cow”.
For more information···
“Japanese brown varieties are divided into Kumamoto and Kochi, both of which are said to be Korean beef.
The current “Kumamoto Aka beef” is an endemic species improved by the crossing of native species and Simmental species that were kept in Aso, Yabe and Kuma districts. In 1944 Akaushi was registered as “Wagyu”, putting it on the same level as the famous “Kobe beef”.
The Akaushi cow has excellent cold and heat resistance, is suitable for grazing, and is known to have a calm personality making it easy to breed.
The meat has a lot of red meat, contains moderate fat, and combines umami, softness, and healthiness. (From the homepage of Kumamoto Prefectural Livestock Agricultural Cooperative Federation)
The Akaushi moves freely around the vast grass plains of Aso consuming about 40 – 50 kilos of grass every day. A single cow left grazing is said to be able to maintain about 2 hectares of grassland. This equals to the size of about 2 football fields!
One of the reasons that these stunning grasslands can be maintained is in large thanks to the presence of the Akaushi and their healthy appetite.
By the way, the consumption rate of Akaushi beef actually only covers about 0.36% of the total beef consumption in Japan making it very rare (pun intended)!
To ensure that the symbolic meadows of Aso that have been maintained for over a thousand years remain for future generations, the number of Akaushi cows needs to increase as well.
And for the Akaushi cows to increase, we need to help out by eating the flavorful Akaushi beef. A burden I can happily shoulder!
With the basics out of the way, let’s check out some of our recommended restaurants!
This restaurant is located inside one of the most well-established ryokans of Kurokawa onsen, O-yado Kurokawa.
And their local specialty is…
Kiwami no Akaushi bowl (1680 yen)!
This dish utilizes their home-made sauce perfected through trial and error as well as a miso paste made by the famous miso craftsman Nagata Tomihiro. The rich umami flavors envelop the soft meat of the Akaushi beef to create a deeply satisfying experience!
They also have a deluxe version (2100 yen) featuring extra everything for the particularly hungry travelers!
Sometimes they offer special deals that include a visit to the onsen as well so it might be worth it to check out in advance!
Ufufu (O-yado Kurokawa)
Address: 6606 Manganji, Minamioguni, Aso District, Kumamoto 869-2402
Open hours: 11:30 – 14:30, 18:30 – 19:30
Fixed holiday: Thursdays
URL: http://oyadokurokawa.com/(Partly English)
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/2HtFjhMRohVx8jM59
Akaushi Specialist shop, Yamayasu (Takamori town)
Along the national highway route 265 that connects Aso city and Takamori town, you can find Yamayasu. There is a large sign along the road so it shouldn’t be too hard to spot!
This restaurant is so popular that if you visit on the weekend you will be guaranteed to wait for at least an hour.
So, what is on the menu that makes people line up for so long?
Aka beef bowl (1500 yen)!
By the way, the picture shows the Mega Aka beef bowl (1900 yen)!
This one features two soft-boiled eggs and extra rice and beef.
What makes this restaurant special is that they carefully select the cut of the meat to be used depending on the condition of the goods every day. This means that you can order the same dish and get a different experience every time which probably is why there are so many repeat customers.
The spicy miso sauce and finely cut perilla leaf blend perfectly making it impossible to stop eating.
Thanks to the soft meat even the mega-sized version go down easily. Even though you feel completely satisfied, the dish doesn’t leave you feeling heavy in the tummy.
Furthermore, Their Sirloin steak (180 g, 2700 yen) is another of the must-try dishes that makes Yamayasu loved by the customers.
This restaurant is guaranteed to have a line of people waiting outside and it’s literally impossible to make a reservation so we recommend aiming for weekdays or arriving just as the restaurant opens!
Akaushi Specialist shop, Yamayasu
Address: 3191 Takamori, Takamori, Aso District, Kumamoto 869-1602
Phone number: 0967-62-0888
Opening hours: 11:00 – 15:00
Fixed holiday: Wednesday
URL: http://www.hanakougen.jp/ (only in Japanese)
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/1jx4WyzFVFqKayje9
Akaushi no Yakata (Minamiaso-mura)
Inside Minamiaso-mura’s Michi-no-Eki, roadside station, you can find this restaurant specializing in Akaushi yakiniku. In other words, BBQ!
The huge(!) windows let you rest your eyes at the spectacular landscapes outside, feeling the nature as you grill and enjoy your Akaushi beef.
Enjoy comparing and trying out different cuts of the Akaushi beef. This set here combines ribs, sirloin and round at the price of 6580 yen for 2 people. Which for the record is a great deal if you want to try out Akaushi BBQ!
The set also includes salad, kimuchi, soup, rice, and dessert.
Here you can truly enjoy the Akaushi beef in its purest form! Each different cut has its special characteristics but each of them is soft and flavorful top-quality Japanese beef!
I know, I know… It might be hard to bring back home if you’re a visitor from abroad, but they even have a shop where you can buy Akaushi beef! Bring it to your hotel for a midnight snack?
Akaushi no Yakata
Address: 2815 Hisaishi, Minamiaso, Aso District, Kumamoto 869-1412
Open hours: 11:00 – 17:00
Fixed holidays: none
URL: https://www.aso-kugino.jp/akaushi.html (Only in Japanese)
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/bM2VPEjZ6yaSaTuZA
The number one specialty of Aso, Akaushi beef. For all you foodies out there, don’t miss this premium opportunity for a true food experience!
And also remember and inform others that eating Akaushi beef isn’t only delicious, it also supports and protects the grasslands of Aso that has existed for over 1000 years.