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Where's the Kobe Beef?


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not true...  Kobe beef, REAL Kobe beef is far superior to what passes as Wagyu/Kobe here.  The beef produced here is a great product, but pales in comparison.  By a mile.

Well okay, but would you care to comment on this link, please? The article's author seems pretty knowledgeable.

I'm not concerned whether authentic Japanese Kobe beef is better than non-Kobe Wagyu beef -- I'm just curious if American bred Wagyu was/is shipped to Japan. The article was written in '98, and things have changed since then -- you can get Wagyu beef here now. The author, Tanith Tyrr, finally managed to find a small, independent producer who sold her an entire steer, after having banged her head on a wall, speaking to a number of Wagyu farmers who were pretty evasive about the fact that they shipped their stuff to Japan.

I think the point that sdelgato was trying to make is that the Wagyu/"Kobe" beef served in most restaurants in this country is not nearly as good as what is in Japan. From numerous personal experiences I can 100% vouch for this fact. Wagyu beef in Japan is unlike most anything in this country and is, as stated in the above article, closer to that of high quality toro or a meaty foie gras. It seems to me that anything even remotely close to the Wagyu lineage is automatically branded as "Kobe beef" in this country. That is entirely untrue, and it's a shame that many in this country have been misled into thinking that they're consuming legitimate Kobe beef.

yes, that is in fact the point I was trying to make... domestically produced waygu is certainly a fine product, but Kobe beef it aint. I will read that article, but I am sure the Japanese ban on American beef in fact included both live and not.

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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that's great info torakris. of course, as i recall, what is called wagyu in japan is based the mixing of traditional carriage beef bloodlines with imported food beef as well. it was formalized as a recognized breed in the early part of this century. see this excellent article.

history of japanese beef

from this article:

The four modern Japanese breeds are the result of a substantial infusion of European blood during the Meiji Era, together with a government-sponsored selection programme initiated in 1919. For several decades prior to 1910, there was a great interest in importing European breeds to cross with native cattle. The basic aim was to improve the native strains for draught purposes, but better meat production was also a consideration. Exotic breeds were extremely popular and the price of pure-bred and cross-bred exotic animals often reached unreasonable levels, until the bubble burst in 1910.

So while the wagyu were created by considerable cross breeding initially, for the past 50 to 100 years the breed has been perfected for meat production and now only full bloods with a verifiable family registry can be called wagyu.

Grub asked:

You say almost every cattle raised outside Japan is F1 or F2, do you know of any instances; where real, full-bloodline wagyu has been raised outside Japan?

All of the wagyu raised outside of Japan are direct descendants of full blood wagyu from Japan. Also from the site above (you will find this on any American wagyu info page):

In order to protect its domestic beef industry, the Japanese government imposed strict laws that prohibited the export of any living Japanese Wagyu cattle. However, in 1976, four Wagyu animals were imported into the U.S.: two Tottori Black Wagyu and two Kumamoto Red Wagyu bulls. Then in 1993, two male and three female Tajima cattle were imported, and 35 male and female cattle (consisting of both red and black Wagyu) were imported in 1994.

Considering that cattle have a gestation period similar to humans and only produce about 6 to 8 progeny in a lifetime, it could take generations to produce a full blood wagyu herd out of Japan. Wagyu also require a longer feeding period than other cattle and considering how much money a crossbreed can fetch (especially when labeled as Kobe beef in the US) I wonder if anyone is really trying to create a full blood herd?

Since the ban on US beef, Japan imports most of its beef from Australia much of it being a wagyu crossbreed.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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the whole subject i find really fascinating. i think it's pretty generally acknowledged that the best australian product is the closest you can get to the japanese beef (in the us, it's only available at four restaurants--french laundry and per se, montage down here and craftsteak in vegas).

but the other stuff we get is really good, too. and a whole lot cheaper. what are kobe prices in japan like now torakris? still over $100 a pound? at my neighborhood japanese market, american wagyu ribeye is about $30.

this says something pretty interesting about the two cultures, i think: in america, we'll always go for a pretty good product at a (relatively) good price. in japan (and some other countries), damn the price, they would rather have a small amount of the very best (or what they consider the very best ... sometimes two different things).

the point about feeding time is critical, too. in addition to having good bloodlines, great wagyu comes from the slow accumulation of fat. that's why it's marbled through the muscle rather than wrapped around the outside. this can take a year or more beyond the normal us slaughter age. that's a real commitment from the grower.

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what are kobe prices in japan like now torakris? still over $100 a pound? at my neighborhood japanese market, american wagyu ribeye is about $30.

The prices are all over the place, it depends on the part of the cow, the type of cut and where you buy it. It is quite rare to see the premium beefs like Kobe etc in your local supermarket, they tend to be sold at meat counters of pricey department stores. At the prices are easily over $100 a pound. Cheaper places can be found online though, here is one example.

This page shows steaks, they have two kinds a rump cut with very little marbling and a sirloin with beautiful marbling (the last set for sale is a mixture of the two types).

To get the best price you need to buy 7 steaks or more, if doing this the rump steak comes out to about $55 a pound and the sirloin will go for closer to $90 a pound.

For $30 a pound in Japan you can get a pretty nice supermarket beef....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
the whole subject i find really fascinating. i think it's pretty generally acknowledged that the best australian product is the closest you can get to the japanese beef (in the us, it's only available at four restaurants--french laundry and per se, montage down here and craftsteak in vegas).

What happened with Lobel's butcher shop in NYC carrying the best Australian wagyu steaks? Just went on their website to check, & they're now carrying US wagyu(replacing the Australian wagyu). I suspect, they would bring in Japanese Kobe now, with the ban lifted. BTW, there's also Canadian wagyu beef. Anyone here tried Canadian wagyu(I've tried it once & found it very very good, but I haven't tried any other wagyu/kobe beef to compare)?

-Steve

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the whole subject i find really fascinating. i think it's pretty generally acknowledged that the best australian product is the closest you can get to the japanese beef (in the us, it's only available at four restaurants--french laundry and per se, montage down here and craftsteak in vegas).

russ, I had Christmas dinner at the Pacific Dining Car. On their menu, they had Wagyu "Kobe" beef. They also used the phrase "authentic Kobe beef". I was skeptical at first. The steak I had was very flavorful & tender. Afterwards, I was talking with the hostess and she said that only four restaurants in the US serve Kobe beef and Pacific Dining Car was one of those restaurants. Could you verify that please?

BTW, who/what/where is "montage?" I'm not familiar with that name.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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pdc is a pretty reputable place, but wait staff are not always well-informed as to the ins and outs of arcane food details. i had not heard that anyone was serving japanese beef in la and i do think i might have heard about it. furthermore, unless you paid well over $100 for the steak, i'd be highly skeptical. i'm pretty sure that it was american kobe. which is very good meat, by the way. i had an american kobe ... wagyu ... whatever ... prime rib for christmas dinner last night (ordered online from uptown meats) and it was very, very good.

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the whole subject i find really fascinating. i think it's pretty generally acknowledged that the best australian product is the closest you can get to the japanese beef (in the us, it's only available at four restaurants--french laundry and per se, montage down here and craftsteak in vegas).

I was under the impression that TFL and Per Se use Snake River Farms.

http://www.snakeriverfarms.com/

We have been ordering Australian Wagyu for the last few months and this has been our experience. The #5 level is not equal to US prime, we ordered #5 NY Strip at about $23-25 a pound. We feel to experience the decadence that we are all looking for that you need at least #8.

gallery_30892_2289_122909.jpg

gallery_30892_2289_758024.jpg

This is my Father's day present to my Dad, NY #11 absolutely luxurious. The marbling melts away while cooking and after proper resting and then slicing, the slices glisten. These were cut thick so my Dad butterflied one. The number # 11 NY Strip was about $53- $55 dollars a pound-wholesale. We first ordered the # 6 ribeye and it was very good maybe the best steak that I had eaten at that point. Then we ordered the #9, #8, NY #11 and our latest find is the flat iron #11 at $14 lbs., but you lose almost half to the trim, because of the piece of sinew that runs down the middle of it. So the cost goes up to $26-28 lbs., but next to the NY #11, it is the best steak that I have ever eaten. I will take a picture of one raw the next time that I make it, but here is a photo of a cooked one served at Binkley's Restaurant in Arizona.

gallery_35305_1628_61701.jpg

I would love to go to Japan and eat the real thing. My friend that is from there told me that there is actually better meat than Kobe, but I forgot the name. I think that it starts with a "m". Maybe Tokakris knows what I am talking about.

Good Eating,

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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I was under the impression that TFL and Per Se use Snake River Farms.

http://www.snakeriverfarms.com/

awesome pictures. what great beef. for the record, tfl and per se use snake river ranch, which is the australian branch of snake river farms. where do you get your wagyu? i ordered a prime rib from uptown meats, it was snake river farms, it was great, but the marbling was not close to what you have pictured (or, to be honest, what i have seen on some of their other meat). i don't know whether that's a function of that particular muscle, or if it was just not as good.

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i ordered a prime rib from uptown meats, it was snake river farms, it was great, but the marbling was not close to what you have pictured (or, to be honest, what i have seen on some of their other meat). i don't know whether that's a function of that particular muscle, or if it was just not as good.

Russ,

I bought that from James at Jetfresh, but European Import carries Australian Wagyu. You need to set up an account with them and be specific as to what number of the Kobe that you want. The prime rib that you ordered should have been very marbled. We ordered # 11 skirt and it was not the right blend of marbling to meat, instead of being dispersed throughout the meat it was big globs so skip it.

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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From what I recall there are two Snake River Farm ranches one of which produces uber-wagyu (TFL, etc...) and then one produceing regular Wagyu I can not find the link but I know I PMd this info to someone in AU. a while back.

Edited by M.X.Hassett (log)
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From what I recall there are two Snake River Farm ranches one of which produces uber-wagyu (TFL, etc...) and then one produceing regular Wagyu I can not find the link but I know I PMd this info to someone in AU. a while back.

actually, the australian one is called snake river ranch, the american one snake river farms. they are related corporate-ly, but actually don't have that much to do with each other. when i was reporting the piece and trying to get the difference, i talked to several people at srf that didn't know the other existed.

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Legal Protection for Wagyu Cattle Eyed

The government is considering protecting Japanese breeds of cattle under the Intellectual Property Basic Law, in an effort to give domestic breeders an edge over imported hybrid calves.

The imported cattle, with their competitive prices, pose a threat to domestic stock breeders.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry has also expressed concern that the increase of hybrid cattle nationwide could result in a decline of the four official Wagyu breeds. No international or domestic law provides a basis for regulating the import of calves

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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