What can you say about a local restaurant that in its 37th year still averages between 450 and 600 dinners on Friday and Saturday nights in season? The only word I can think of is “Wow!” Add to these astonishing numbers the fact that 70% of its staff has been there for 20 years or more and you start to get the picture that this is a very special place indeed. People like Head Grill Chef Hata, Lounge and Bar Manager Steve Woo, and his wife, server Eileen Woo were on site when the place opened its doors on Restaurant Row in Rancho Mirage back in 1978. And they never left! Which is the feeling I get the minute I walk in, each and every time. Just the aroma alone makes me want to stay forever.
For those who have never experienced Kobe, the restaurant—which greets you with its red footbridge and golden koi pond outside, and its kimono-clad servers and traditional décor inside—is a replica of a Japanese country inn. As far as seating choices are concerned, in addition to the main dining room, there is the walk-in Sushi Bar (excellent!), the more intimate Tea Room and Terrace Room, and the Atrium. Not to mention the lounge, which boasts a happy hour menu every night from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. and from 8:00 p.m. to close, but where guests may also order off the regular dining room menu.
My personal favorite is the main dining room, which is laid out with four large tables each capable of accommodating up to 16 guests who will be attended by a pair of grill chefs who have perfected the art of teppanyaki (iron plate cooking). These seasoned gentlemen are the ones who will dramatically wield their knives to serve up some of the freshest and tastiest beef, poultry, and seafood in the desert.
On my last visit—with 7 friends tagging along—our group overtook a full side of one of the dining room tables. After our server Wilma brought us cocktails and glasses of wine, she delivered the Tuna Poke and California Roll appetizers we’d ordered. Then we enjoyed the delicious miso soup which is included in the price of every dinner. In time, Chef Phat from Vietnam made his entrance, charming us with his easy wit and sharp culinary skills as he put on his show. Oiling his hot plate, he minced garlic, grilled onion, and fried eggs as he prepared both our fried rice side dish and our shrimp first course. Then came the vegetables, so fresh and mouthwatering most of us clamored for second helpings. Finally, it was time for protein. Between our octet, we sampled—and shared—sirloin, filet mignon, chicken teriyaki, shrimp, and prawns (some of which were ordered off the early-bird menu, which delivers smaller portions priced accordingly). Each was more delicious than the next. We finished our communal experience with a superbly creamy and refreshing green tea ice cream.
If you’re looking for an eatery that’s perfect for a larger group—or if you like making new friends across the dining room table—head on over to Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. And tell them Potter Palma sent you!