Matsusaka beef in Dotonburi

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Kobe beef is the best beef in the world, but in Japan they’ll tell you that Matsusaka beef is king. Naturally I had to pay my dues to this king of steak.

Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M

I was in Osaka, the second biggest city in Japan. I had made a reservation at “Yakiniku M” in Dotonburi, the impressive and bustling centre of Osaka and was there to try the famed Matsusaka beef.

An image of the Dotonburi district in Osaka
Dotonburi in Osaka

The M in Yakiniku M is short for Matsusaka. Yakinuki M buys their Matsusaka cows whole and use every part of it. They even claim that their cows were “fed beer to encourage a healthy appetite” and “given massages with Japanese Liquor to increase marbling”. I love the idea of this, but didn’t take this too seriously as it’s not an official requirement for grading (more on this below).

Yakiniku means grilled meat and is style of cooking where the restaurant prepares thin strips of meat and you cook it yourself over grill inset in the middle of your table. It’s a social and fun way to eat out. You have a little button on your table to summon staff to take orders or give you more beef or beer. Each table is a semi private area with its own grill and the staff give you a little primer on how to cook.

An image of a restaurant table with Yakiniku styled grill
A grill in the centre of the table at Yakiniku M

The menu is complex. It’s full of multiple platters, set courses and individual steak slices as well as seafood and a large section of sides. After a lot of deliberation, I ordered the ordered the DX Platter which contained six different cuts of Matsusaka beef. I also ordered vegetables, beef sushi (nigiri style), edamame, Matusaka beef Miso soup and a house salad. A feast.

What is Matsusaka Beef?

Matsusaka beef is a brand of Wagyu or Japanese beef that comes from Matsusaka and the wider region of Mie, of which Matsusaka is the capital.

All Matsusaka beef comes from Japanese black breed heifers that have been raised from at least the age of 12 months in Mie Prefecture on a special diet. This dramatically increases the animal’s weight (and the marbling in the meat).  The cows are then slaughtered and the meat graded according to strict criteria. You can read our articles on Matsusaka beef, Kobe beef and Wagyu beef if you want to know more.

Eating Matsusaka beef

The Matsusaka DX platter arrived and, like everything in Japan, was artistically presented. Each cut was labelled. I marvelled at the marbling in the ‘lean steak’. It was more marbled that any rib steak I had ever seen anywhere else in the world. The style of beef is so different in Japan, it’s made to be as fatty and tender as possible. Even cuts like fillet have ridiculous levels of marbling.

An image of the Matsusaka DX Platter at Yakiniku M
The Matsusaka DX Platter at Yakiniku M

I picked up the steak and started grilling it. The grill was gas-powered and the steaks cooked fast. The lean steaks, like the flank had a slight chew but also a fatty explosion of taste. The sirloin was melt-in-the-mouth tender, but the rib steaks combined melt in the mouth tenderness with a flood of divine succulence. All the cuts were similar in their intense marbling, serving size and burst of taste. However, there was no scent of the beefiness you’ll find in European steak, but the buttery succulence was a decent substitute.

Grilling Matsusaka beef
Grilling Matsusaka beef

We washed the steak down with a local craft beer from Minoh. The beef miso soup was pretty decent but I don’t recommend the beef sushi. Beef just doesn’t work the way seafood does. It’s often seared and when it’s partnered with rice as Nigiri, the texture just doesn’t work.


There’s no doubt that Matsusaka beef is delicious. It’s delicious buttery texture melts in your mouth (although it leaves an oily aftermath). The service at the restaurant is great and the sides are decent too.

There is room for improvement. In my first jet lagged hours in Tokyo I came across a small yakiniku restaurant  near Nakono broadway in Tokyo that used charcoal grills with unbranded Wagyu beef. The charcoal added a depth of taste.  It tasted good, maybe even better because of that amazing smokiness. I can’t help but think that the steak would’ve been on another level if Yakiniku-M used charcoal grills instead of gas.

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