Eating out / Jazzed-up hamburg steak a big hit at Sendai bar

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Kabo’s hamburg steak

By Kenta Nakajo / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterSENDAI — At the entrance to Kabo, a jazz bar in the Toichi Market in Aoba Ward, Sendai, I was welcomed by massive panels depicting two jazz saxophone legends, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

Kabo commemorated its 50th anniversary in March and is believed to be the oldest jazz bar operating in Sendai.

Hostess Sachiko Endo, 67, and manager Yuzo Endo, 80, opened Kabo as a cafe that played jazz records in a building on Hirose-dori avenue in 1968, when jazz was quite popular among young people. The husband-and-wife team has built up a collection of records and CDs now exceeding 3,400 discs.

Kabo was relocated in 1990 to the current location and reopened as a bar that holds about 20 live performances a month, attracting musicians from Tokyo or even overseas.

Jazz sessions performed in a space that seats only 19 are gripping, as the customers and the musicians are so close that the audience can hear performers breathing.

What’s popular at Kabo other than jazz is a hamburg steak (¥780) cooked using the recipe of a chef who worked at Kabo at the time of its relocation. Since then, the dish has remained a popular menu item for over 20 years.

The sauce is made with onions that are simmered in wine for hours. The meat is so rich and fatty that it is fried as a patty with no need to add oil to the pan. Oil is used only to stir-fry the onion.

The dish comes with rice, soup and coffee.

“Many of our customers say, ‘This is what I want,’” Endo said. “I want to preserve this taste.”

Many regulars go to Kabo for the hamburg steak for lunch.

“People often say jazz is difficult, but they will find that’s not true when they listen to it,” Endo said.

It may be a good idea to use the hamburg steak as a gateway to the world of jazz.


Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Closed: Irregularly

Address: In the Toichi Market, 4-5-17 Ichibancho, Aoba Ward, Sendai

Phone: (022) 261-3792

Slide 1 of 1

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Sachiko Endo is a popular figure on the Sendai jazz scene.

Credit cards not accepted

To find out more about Japan’s attractions, visit


Click to play


+ -

Generating speech. Please wait...

Become a Premium Member to use this service.

Become a Premium Member to use this service.

Offline error: please try again.