Want to know more about Kobe Beef? It’s a type of beef from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle, and it’s one of the world’s most expensive meats.
The cattle are raised in the Hyōgo Prefecture and follow a strict set of rules in order to become quality Kobe beef. It’s considered a delicacy and the beef is particularly known for its tenderness, flavor, and texture.
Every time I travel to Japan I make sure to get some delicious Kobe Beef, although it’s expensive, it’s simply the best meat I’ve ever eaten, and one of the best Japanese foods out there.
In this article, I will share my experience of what it tastes like, what to look out for, where to find good places to eat Kobe beef and more information about the famous meat from Japan!
What is Kobe Beef?
Kobe Beef is a type of Japanese Wagyu from the Tajima-gyu cattle, and it’s one of the most expensive meats you could eat in the world with a kilo price of $500.
The traditional way of raising the cattle includes massage and feeding it with beer during the summer months.
The massage is done in order to work the layers of fat into the muscle tissues, and the beer is given to stimulate their appetite. The revered Wagyu grew in popularity in the ’80s and 1990s and since then it has held a special place in the foodie world.
The taste and what it’s like to eat Kobe Beef
This is one of those experiences that words aren’t enough to describe, but I will do my best. I mean, just the fact that you’ll see the meat be cooked to perfection right in front of you is a good start.
You’ll have it served with salt and soy, but I recommend to just put some salt on it at first so you get the full flavor in your mouth. What will happen next is a journey to heaven for your tastebuds, and you’ll feel how the meat is melting in your mouth.
If you’re eating real Kobe Beef, it will be so tender that you almost don’t have to chew it. The flavors will fill your soul and send your mind into a euphoric state, and you will lack words and become amazed by how something can taste this good.
The chef will cook it to perfection, and it’s only seared for a short while. I like to dip it a bit in soy, but in my opinion, it’s best to just sprinkle some salt and eat it.
You can choose the portion yourself, and you can buy everything from 50 gram to 250 gram or even 1 kilo if you’re a larger group sharing.
If you only want to taste, and don’t want to spend 15,000 Yen on 250 grams of meat, then I recommend finding a good place that offers 50 or 90 gram.
Where to eat Kobe Beef in Japan?
The obvious answer to this question is to visit the port city of Kobe, but you need to do research before choosing a place because there are many restaurants that charge overprices and trick tourists by selling regular wagyu and advertise it as Kobe beef.
Many restaurants will offer cheap prices and serve the meats with less quality, which means you won’t get the real experience.
As a tourist without experience, it can be hard to distinguish the quality of meats. That’s why you need to visit a well-reputed place and be ready to cash out if you want to taste the best quality.
If you’re not visiting Kobe but will travel to Osaka, then I recommend visiting the Kuromon Ichiba Market because they have a stand serving the real Kobe Beef to affordable prices.
Restaurants serving authentic Kobe beef in Kobe
- Kokubu (make a reservation, seats are limited)
- Steak Aoyama
- Mouriya (offers aged meat)
- Kobe Beef Steak Ishida Kitanozaka
What is the difference between Kobe Beef and Wagyu?
Wagyu is simply the Japanese word for beef and could refer to any type of cattle raised in Japan. Kobe Beef is a specific type of Wagyu, which comes from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black Cattle, also known as Tajima-gyu.
These cattle are raised following certain strict regulations in the Hyogo prefecture where Kobe is the capital city, hence the name, Kobe Beef. After the slaughter, the meat will be ranked by the Wagyu criteria, where A5 is the highest ranking.
The grading system
The quality grading for Japanese beef goes from 1 to 5 where 1 is poor quality and 5 is the highest quality. It grades all kinds of Wagyu beef from Japan.
The Wagyu is graded by the following criteria:
- Meat color and brightness
- Firmness and texture of meat
- Color, luster, and quality of fat.
The highest quality of meat will have the highest ranking in all four categories to earn the status of A5 quality Wagyu.
Frequently asked questions
This type of Wagyu beef has been renowned for a long time but it’s the most internationally famous type of Japanese wagyu beef. It’s primarily known for its tenderness and high amount of intramuscular fat, giving that marbled appearance.
It has made the headlines as the most expensive beef in the world.
Yes, but chances are that you won’t because of loose labeling outside Japan, especially in the United States. There are only 5000 Cattle in Japan that meet the strict criteria and only 10% of the annual production is exported overseas.
Your best bet is to visit a very reputable restaurant and pay the premium price, or simply travel to Japan and get the real deal for a much lower price.
The breeders need to take extra care when raising the cattle, and follow uncompromised regulations in order to get the meat qualified as Kobe Beef. This is time consuming and requires delicate handling of the cattle, which is reflected by the high price.
The cattle is fed with beer in the summer months, and receive regular massage sessions. The massage is performed to ensure that the fat works its way into the muscle tissues, which results in the marbled appearance.
The Tajima-gyu cattle must also be born, bred and slaughtered in the Hyogo prefecture to be considered real Kobe beef.
The A5 is the highest ranking of wagyu and it basically means that it fulfills the four criterias to be ranked as the best quality meat. It’s also the most expensive type of Kobe Beef, but it’s well worth the cost if you’re looking for the ultimate dining experience.
There are only 21 restaurants in the whole United States that actually do serve authentic Kobe beef, so most of the times you won’t get the real deal.
Unless it’s from Japan it can’t actually be authentic due to the regulations from the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association that states that the Japanese Black Cattle must be born, bred, and slaughtered in Kobe, Nishinomiya, Sanda, Kakogawa, or Himeji in the Hyōgo Prefecture.
Do you have more questions about Kobe Beef? Leave a comment below!