There Ain’t No KOBE- Do You Feel Like Wagyu?

Peter Frampton circa 1975, right? If Frampton owned a steak house circa 2007 his tune would have been titled such. Kobe beef is showing up on more and more American menus but the fact of the matter is there is no Kobe beef in this country. WHAT?! Ok, Ok calm down now- there is ‘Kobe style’ beef in this country but even the Japanese stuff that comes over here is not from the Kobe region, in fact the Japanese themselves do not consider beef from the Kobe region as being the top beef but Kobe is so easy for us to pronounce that we have made it synonymous with the best of the best when it comes to succulent tender marbled beef. Now I’ve been talking Kobe but in the title I mentioned the word Wagyu. I will explain so we don’t have a beef, or perhaps so we do…

Kobe style bavette tournedos

Kobe style bavette tournedos

I will define now the basic breeding that gets us this style of beef.


What is Wagyu beef? What is KOBE beef?

The truth is there is much confusion as to what Kobe beef actually is. Simply put, it is a style of beef. There is no Kobe breed of cattle; Kobe is a city in Japan or a basketball player- not an animal (that might be debated if you ever saw Kobe take it to the hoop– but that’s a different story!). The style of beef made popular in the Kobe region involved the feeding of Wagyu cattle following a specific method to take advantage of is marbling capabilities. Wagyu means “Japanese cattle”. Many cattle that receive prolonged feeding will stop marbling and put on back fat, Wagyu just keeps marbling and the marbling is higher in unsaturated fat compared to other cattle breeds. Keep in mind the Wagyu breeds are not beef animals, they are draft animals so they need to be fed longer to get the marbling qualities desired. The main quality breed used is a black bovine called Tajima, and so with the feeding program here in the USA Tajima is crossed with another premium black bovine breed called Angus, which is a beef cattle- it matures early and marbles nicely at a younger age so you get the best qualities of both types of cattle and Voila!- we have American Style Wagyu beef. When the feeding process takes the beef to higher marbling levels it’s known as American Kobe. Even at prime levels of marbling Wagyu beef is exceptional due to finer muscle fibers and a succulent tenderness unmatched! A company that produce perhaps the best style of of this beef is in America is Mishima Ranch .

So in the words of Frampton as a rancher – ‘do you feel like Wagyu? Oh that’s true…’






One response to this post.

  1. Posted by voncook on September 21, 2008 at 2:41 AM

    Agree with your explanation so far, but there’s a slight misconception to where newbies are not very acquainted with the word Wagyu.

    That’s why we separate these terms, and most importantly, a brief explanation of dishes right before the customers chow on them.

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