Is Wagyu Beef Worth It? Absolutely.
Wagyu beef, specifically Japanese A5 Wagyu, is a whole-body experience. The texture is so buttery, your steak knife will remain neglected beside your plate. The flavour is so rich, it could afford its own private island. But be warned: once your taste buds have experienced this extraordinary beef, they will never forget it.
But what IS Wagyu Beef?
Wagyu translates to “Japanese beef”. But, confusingly, not all beef from Japan is considered Wagyu. Only meat from specific Japanese cow breeds (or mixes of these breeds) can be classified as Wagyu: Japanese Black, Japanese Polled, Japanese Brown, and Japanese Shorthorn.
These cows are bred and raised in a highly particular way, to produce the copious marbling that Wagyu is known for. It is these delicate patterns of pure white intramuscular fat that creates the silky, unbelievable tender texture.
“But I’ve seen North American Wagyu! Is that not “real” Wagyu?”
At the risk of sounding too lawyerly – yes, and no.
There are North American Wagyu producers who raise these Japanese breeds, so you may see Wagyu beef from North America. North American farmers may incorporate other breeds into their herds, to keep some of the flavour and texture of true Japanese Wagyu, at a more affordable price point.
True Wagyu comes directly from Japan.
Is Kobe beef different from Wagyu?
Again – yes, and no.
Kobe beef is Wagyu from a particular Prefecture of Japan (Hyogo Prefecture, specifically).
In the same way, Matsusaka beef and Omi beef are also types of Wagyu beef, from different regions.
How is Wagyu ranked and why does that matter?
Japanese Wagyu is ranked on a duel number/letter system.
The Letters: A-C
The letter indicates the yield. Meat ranked as A indicates that more could be obtained from the cow than meat ranked as C. This speaks to how the cow was raised.
The Numbers: 5-1
The number is determined by the colour of the meat, firmness and delicacy, and the colour of the fat. Each of these factors is independently ranked on a scale of 1-5, and then put together for a final rating. A higher number indicates an excellent rating.
The rating of Wagyu beef is extraordinarily precise – there is nothing arbitrary about it!
For beef to obtain a rating of A5, every single element must be as close to perfection as possible.
So, is Wagyu really worth all the hype?
Oh, yes. A thousand times yes.
The taste and texture of Japanese A5 Wagyu is unlike anything else you will ever experience. It is something that absolutely must be experienced (preferably many, many times).
Grab some fabulous wagyu tenderloins, and never look back.