You have probably heard of Wagyu, this transcendently tender and sensuously marbled Japanese beef with a distinctive buttery taste.
Since it is so prestigious, Wagyu beef prices can easily reach up to triple-digits per pound. It’s usually so expensive that it’s only eaten on special occasions, and most people who enjoy Wagyu don’t even eat it very often.
With its buttery taste and melt-in-your-mouth texture, Wagyu has become what many consider THE premier steak to serve.
But there is a lot of misinformation about Wagyu out there, so we thought it was high time to set the record straight.
So, what exactly is Wagyu beef, and how did it become so popular?
We’re here to give you the low-down.
What is wagyu beef
Called ‘wagyu,’ which means ‘Japanese cow’ in Japanese, Wagyu cattle are renowned for their tenderness and flavor. The amount of intramuscular fat determines the quality of a cut. Wagyu cattle are known for their abundant quantities of so-called ‘marbling.’ This is the fat that runs through all muscles, giving them a marble-like appearance when cut thinly.
What makes it different from most other beef on the market? The first thing you have to understand about Wagyu beef is what it isn’t. It isn’t genetically modified, nor is it a new breed of cow created by scientists in laboratories. Instead, good quality Wagyu beef comes from a select class of cattle that have been bred and raised under strict nutritional guidelines for at least 100 years.
But what makes a good cut of wagyu so special? It’s all about the intramuscular fat, or ‘marbling’ as it’s known. Wagyu cattle have significantly more marbling than any other breed of cow, which means that their meat is incredibly tender and flavorful.
But why do they have so much fat? This high level of intramuscular fat also comes from their diet. They’re fed an all-natural grain. This marbling gives Wagyu beef not just a richer flavor but also a much more tender texture that’s full of mouth-watering juiciness.
There are four breeds endemic to Japan. One of these breeds is genetically unique. These unique genes are what account for the unique flavor and texture of the beef.
The difference between American and Japanese Wagyu
The most significant difference between Japanese and American Wagyu is that the American Wagyu is a crossbreed, while the Japanese are purebred.
Japanese Wagyu is purebred, meaning they have not been crossbred with other cattle types, so their taste is the same as their ancestors.
The American Wagyu taste will be different due to the crossbreeding between Angus and Japanese cattle in America.
Another significant difference between Japanese Wagyu and American Wagyu is that the price for a pound of meat.
American Wagyu has a considerably lower percentage of fat compared to Japanese Wagyu.
Japanese Wagyu have such a high percentage of fat and is considered to be the best quality meat in the market because of their way of life. Normally Japanese cattle are raised in a small pen and spend their entire lifetime eating grass and drinking water.
Now we should say that the American Wagyu also tastes great and you can eat lots of it. Because the Japanese wagyu is so marbled and rich in fat, most people find it overwhelming and can rarely eat more than a few bites at a time.
If you are searching for that beefy taste, the Japanese Wagyu won’t be the best choice. It has this umami flavor that other types of beef cannot replicate, so please give it a try. This umami taste is one of the five basic tastes in Japan, and it’s the key describe the taste of Wagyu beef.
The one truth here is that the most delicious food is what you like to eat. So, if you have the opportunity, try different types of wagyu beef, and I’m sure you will find your personal favorite. If you don’t like juicy and marbled meat, Japanese Wagyu is not for you. But if you are looking for something rich and good, it will make taste buds tingles, then please try! 🙂
Where to Buy Wagyu Online
Back in time, the only way of getting Wagyu beef was in the finest slaughterhouses or Michelin-starred restaurants. Of course, you can also go to Japan and enjoy some truly amazing Wagyu.
Nowadays, you can buy Wagyu in the United States and other countries. But what about the real deal? How to get high-quality Japanese Wagyu without going all the way to Japan? They are importers who have found success in Japan. They connected directly with the Japanese farmers, and they bring the beef directly to the US. Sounds great, right?
Before you take a trip to Japan, check out these online stores that can supply you with Wagyu beef.
Buy wagyu online from these great companies that import directly from Japan, and you will get guaranteed high-quality meat that’s easy to cook and delicious.
Nowadays, it’s relatively easy to find Wagyu beef in America, but if you want real premium quality meat, buy your meat online.
Holy Grail Steak Co. is the best place that you can find to buy Wagyu beef online. It’s the top importer in America, and it works with a great number of farms and slaughterhouses. The quality of their products is superior, so you will get what you pay for. There you can find different cuts of beef that are perfect for grilling and different types of Wagyu cut. If you want the highest quality meat, you have to get into Holy Grail Steak Co. This is the best place to find real Japanese A5 Wagyu online.
If you’re worried that your delivery will take too long, don’t be because they ship out your products the same day you order them.
Originally this company started with the idea of crowdsourcing beef. This means that a group of buyers joins together and purchase a premium head of cattle on the internet. They then decide which individual cuts they want, and the Crowd Cow buys that beef from the farmer. The farmers can get a better price for their cattle, and you get high-quality Wagyu at an affordable price.
Nowadays, Crowd Cow offers high-quality 100% pure premium A5 Japanese Wagyu beef. They come in different cuts such as ribeye, strip steak, skirt steak, and more. . Crowd Cow is also a great place to find Kobe beef, which has been making its way into western cuisine in recent years.
The company works directly with farmers and slaughterhouses, so it means that everything is done ethically. It’s probably the best site for quality affordable Wagyu in the US.
Meat N’ Bone is a brand that sells 100% pure Japanese Wagyu beef. It’s a great online store to get some high-quality brisket, ribeye steaks, or even burgers off. Meat N’ Bone offers their meat in different sizes and qualities.
While other online shops offer thin cuts of Wagyu and have limited supplies, Meat N’ Bone brings high-quality boneless prime rib. The weight varies from 3 lbs for a quarter piece to 11 lbs for the whole prime rib.
If you want a high-quality, 100% pure A5 Wagyu beef, contact Meat N’ Bone, and they will offer you the best solution.
For more than 35 years, D’Artagnan has been in the food business. The company works with restaurants and butcher shops to bring high-quality meat. It turned D’Artagnan into the premier purveyor of gourmet ingredients.
D’Artagnan is the top online shop to find high-quality Wagyu beef. The company works directly with farmers and slaughterhouses in Japan, offering great A5 prices for everyone.
This company is dedicated to the outstanding crossbred American wagyu. Their cattle have the Kuroge Washu bloodline. Even this is is not as marbled as a premier A5, this is a better solution for grilling than the mega-fatty Japanese Wagyu.
Mishima offers a great variety of beef cuts, plus ground Wagyu – the supreme option for some awesome burgers.
The rise of Australian Wagyu
It may surprise you, but the greatest population of Wagyu cattle outside of Japan can be found in the middle of Australia. Like the American Wagyu, the Australian isn’t that super-fatty A5 type. It’s a type of Japanese Wagyu that has been crossbred to survive the harsh Australian climate.
While the American cattle are crossbred with Angus, the Australian cattle are crossed with Holsteins. That’s why the Australian cattle have meat that is tenderer and less beefy in flavor compared to their American relatives.
Even the Australian Wagyu is mild-mannered and produces some of the best beef in the world; it’s not Japanese Wagyu.
Australian cattle breeding has nothing to do with this in Japan. All Australian cattle are grass-fed, not grain-finished, like these in Japan. Grass-feeding makes the beef meat a lot leaner, but due to the Japanese Wagyu genes, the meat is rich in marbling and umami.
How do Wagyu cows get raised, and why are those conditions important?
The statement that the cows’ movement is limited and they are force-fed grain is false and leads to the entire misconception of raising Wagyu.
Wagyu cattle are raised according to a special method, known as “Tsukiyomi.” It literally means “to massage” in Japanese and refers to the tender loving care that must be given from birth until they are harvested. The idea is that Kobe beef embodies all the love, freshness, and tenderness of the cow’s motherly love.
The most important principle of raising Wagyu cattle is managing a zero-stress environment. The cow is protected from cold and hot weather and all the stress of transportation and handling. This is why Kobe beef has so much marbling.
Japanese farmers have the important task of keeping the cattle from doing anything stressful. The noise levels are controlled. The cattle are free to roam around in grassy, open spaces with constantly maintained freshwater.
Long-term stress damages the quality of Kobe beef, as it causes fat cells to burst inside the muscles, leading to less tender meat with a tough texture.
Stress creates cortisol, one of the hormones that break down fat cells and expels them from the body. Long-term stress damages the quality of Kobe beef, as it causes fat cells to burst inside the muscles, leading to less tender meat with a tough texture. Therefore, it is important that the cattle never feel any stress at all.
In the United States, cows that produce Wagyu beef are raised differently. American cattle are raised in vast open spaces, which are often thousands of acres or more. Sometimes the cowboys haven’t seen their herds for a whole week. This means that controlling the stress level is hard since they are so spread out. It’s harder to control the noise level and keep clean water available to them. Still, many ranchers do everything within their power to provide a stress-free environment for their animals. This includes providing shade trees and lots of grass.
Wagyu vs. Kobe Beef
We have often heard Kobe instead of Wagyu beef. But what is the difference between Kobe and Wagyu beef? Kobe is nothing but a brand of Wagyu beef. So actually, Kobe beef is Wagyu Beef. The term Wagyu had been registered as a trademark in Japan long before the term Kobe was even invented. In other words, Kobe is a brand of Wagyu, just like Dodge is a brand of vehicle.
The only way a cut of beef to be labeled as Kobe beef is to come from Wagyu cattle born, raised, and slaughtered in Kobe, Japan. Afterward, all the companies involved in getting this exceptional piece of meat to you should be registered by the Kobe Beef Association.
Lastly, for a piece of beef to be called Kobe, it should be A4 or A5 rank. A3 rank cannot be called Kobe, even if all the previous steps are true.
We want to bring to your attention the “American Kobe” word combination. Since the Kobe beef could only originate from Kobe, Japan, and the fact that American Wagyu cattle are raised in America, labeling this Wagyu beef as “American Kobe” is clearly misleading to the public.
Only real Japanese Kabes can be labeled as such. The rest is just Wagyu beef.
What is the Wagyu rating system?
Now about the rating system.
1) A5 (highest level): The ultimate grade reserved for only the best of Wagyu beef. It is juicy, tender, and rich flavor. Its marbling is dense and tight, creating a melt-in-your-mouth sensation when eaten.
2) A4: Marbling is medium and interspersed with lean meat. The texture is soft, and it has some chewiness to it.
3) A3: Marbling is fine but not as dense or tight as in A4 grade. The texture is tender, though chewy at times, especially when sliced thinly.
The difference between A’s and B’s is the yield. A and B rating is directed to the purveyor, not the customer. You see, every cattle will have a different yield, and the A’s are given to the cattle which have the highest yield. The B’s are given to the scrawnier cattle with less meat. This means that A5 and B5 are basically the same. The marbling and the taste will be the same. A or B rank depends on how much meat you get from one cattle.
Now back to the 4 or 5 in the ranking system. To explain these numbers, we need to introduce to you the Beef Marbling Standard (BMS). This scale of one to twelve is used to measure the quality and the amount of marbling and the meat. The higher the number, the better! All this means that the BMS rating of 12 is the highest, and 1 is the lowest meat quality.
For a Wagyu to be rated as A5 it BMS rating should be between 8 and 12. To be A4, the Wagyu BMS rating, therefore, should be between 6 and 8.
Covering the Wagyu rating systems, we can conclude that the best wagyu cut is A5 12. This cut is the most marbling and umami.
A disappointing fact is that this supreme cut of beef is almost impossible to leave Japan. This is because most of the A5 12 are sold in Japanese restaurants or steakhouses. And if somehow a cut of A5 12 reaches the USA, it won’t pass the USDA regulations on the bone.
An interesting fact about the Wagyu rating system is that it is deeply studied in Japan. To become a Wagyu rater, you need three years of practice. Each cattle is rated by three independent raters, and each evaluation is checked by another, and the result of their rating system is very accurate.
With this in mind, we can conclude that the Japanese have developed the best beef in the world, and they have come very close.
We can often see or hear that the American Wagyu is A5 or A4 with BMS of 8 or 10, but since we haven’t studied this rating system for three years, we can’t give any concrete facts. This seems more like a marketing statement rather than a fact. However, the American Wagyu is tasty and healthy, and you should try it for yourself!