Japanese Kobe Beef: The Queen of Wagyu?

When looking to buy the most exquisite beefs the world has to offer, one could potentially become lost in translation. In all honesty, the abundance of exotic names can make it quite confusing from time to time!

In a previous article, we already covered the differences between Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Hokkaido Wagyu. Be sure to read it here. Within this article, we take things a little further with Japanese Kobe Beef. We will cover everything you need to know about this prestigious beef that is extremely hard to find.

Picture of Japanese Kobe Ribeye steaks next to each other

What is Wagyu Beef?

As mentioned in our previous article, Wagyu beef is used as a collective term for different Wagyu beef types. This includes (among others) Wagyu Kagoshima beef, Wagyu Hokkaido beef, Wagyu Miyazaki beef and... Kobe beef! Yes, you read that right. Kobe beef is always considered to be Wagyu beef, but not the other way around.

Picture of different Japanese Kobe Beef cuts

What is the Wagyu Grading system?

Before we dive deeper into Kobe, it is important to cover the basics of the Japanese meat grading system first. The Japanese grading system separates the highest quality of Wagyu beef from inferior Wagyu beef.

The Japan Meat Grading Association is the official Japanese governmental instance that sanctions this matter. They give points to each carcass that is being sold as Japanese Wagyu. This way, they ensure that the consumer is always well informed about the quality of the Wagyu purchased.

The grading system covers both the yield grade as well as the quality of the beef. Several factors are taken into account when scoring Wagyu. The letters A to C cover the yield grade, while the numbers 1 to 5 cover the marbling, fat quality, fat distribution, meat texture and meat color.

Rest assured that the score of your Wagyu matters. It is something that substantially translates into taste, tenderness and overall tasting experience. Please don’t be fooled when your local restaurant serves Wagyu, but doesn’t clarify the grading. It usually means that you will be served Wagyu of inferior quality. While it may be delicious nonetheless, it is still far away from the real deal: Japanese Wagyu A5, the heaven of steaks!

Close up of Japanese Kobe Beef marbling

What is Kobe beef?

Let’s dive deeper into the star of the show! Kobe beef is the most prestigious (and expensive) brand among all Japanese Wagyu beef, bound by strict rules in terms of breed, region, gross weight, grading and marking. All of these regulations are sanctioned by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association, ensuring fair trade and protection of the region-specific trademark. If compared to sparkling wines, Kobe beef would be the most exclusive Champagne.

Picture of Japanese Kobe Beef whole ribeye

What does Kobe Beef taste like?

While some may assume that the acquired prestige comes solely from marketing, we would certainly beg to differ. Japanese Kobe Beef is deliciously distinctive from regular Japanese Wagyu. The flavor palate translates itself into an even creamier taste and buttery sensation. While Japanese A5 Wagyu is already the queen of steaks, Kobe Beef is the queen of Japanese Wagyu.

Pictures of multiple Japanese Kobe beef ribeye steaks

Where is Kobe Beef produced?

Kobe is always processed from ‘Tajima cattle’, which are Japanese Black cattle that spend their entire life cycle within the boundaries of the prestigious Hyogo prefecture in Japan. Furthermore, one individual Tajima cow must not exceed 499.9 kilograms of beef production. Meat quality must be scored 4 or 5, with a marbling score of A or B.

Japanese Kobe Beef with Kobe Trophy

Final note

As it is considered as the queen of Japanese Wagyu, authentic Japanese Kobe beef is worth the experience for the lucky few. The explosion of creaminess induces a whole new spectrum of flavors that will even stun the most seasoned Wagyu connoisseur! Be sure to buy your piece of authentic Japanese Kobe Beef here.

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