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Kobe and Wagyu Beef: Japan’s Most Famous Fillets
Kobe and wagyu beef are the sources of some of the world’s most well-loved, well-marbled steaks. Get the truth about these super-melty meats with Groupon’s guide.
Although its incomparable marbling, delicate muscle fiber, and melt-in-your-mouth texture have made it the stuff of butcher-shop legend, Kobe beef is nearly impossible to find in North America. The cattle that produce it are only raised in Japan, and their meat is only exported in vanishingly small quantities. Even in Japan, the only cattle that qualify as Kobe are virgin, rather small Tajima cows and gelded bulls born, raised, and slaughtered in Hyogo Prefecture—about 3,000 a year. Contrary to the whispers of excited carnivores, they are not treated to sake, beer, classical music, or massage, unless they sneak off to a nearby spa. Even without such royal treatment, cuts of Kobe fetch a high price, with a single steak running up to several hundred dollars.
Stateside steak lovers still have plenty of cause for celebration, however. Some American ranches do raise cattle that are 100% wagyu, a blanket term covering four Japanese breeds known for superior marbling. And often, wagyu and Angus cattle are crossbred to create a beef slightly redder and bolder than Kobe. Forbes travel writer Larry Olmsted calls this domestic Kobe “Faux-be” beef, but the cuts offered by American ranchers are still some of the finest around. Much of it gets the USDA Prime grade (the best of the best), and many consider it to be of an even higher quality. Since the terms wagyu and Kobe carry no legal weight in the United States, however, diners should take menu descriptions with a grain of salt and recognize that they may be describing the style and quality of a cut of beef rather than its provenance.
Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ is an authentic yakiniku restaurant, meaning there's a personal charcoal grill at the center of every table. The staff supplies the best-selling 21-day aged Harami miso skirt steak, garlic shrimp, sides, and drinks, but the diners get to cook the meat themselves. When the restaurant first opened, it won a Hot Concept award for turning going out to eat into an experience.