Tender, fatty, umami-rich steaks of Wagyu are heaven. We often receive the question on which brand of Wagyu is the absolute best of the best. While the short answer might be: “all brands that produce Japanese A5 Wagyu are amazing!”, we do want to elaborate ourselves a bit more. Within this article, we will point out the differences between the two top brands of Japanese Wagyu: Kobe Beef and Ozaki Beef. We will put these two Wagyu heavyweights on the scale and see how they weigh up against regular Japanese A5 Wagyu. Let’s dive into it!
What is regular Japanese A5 Wagyu?
As one might predict, the word Wagyu literally means ‘Japanese Cow’. However, not every cow from Japan produces prestigious Wagyu Beef. The registered trademark ‘wagyū’ refers to a strict selection of cattle breeds hailing from Japan. The special kind of luxury that Wagyu is refers to a special breed of Japanese cattle that possess special genetic features. In addition, special breeding conditions and a unique diet gives Wagyu that characteristic marbling that is so known for.
Before entering the market, Wagyu beef must go through strict inspection and grading procedures. These procedures are sanctioned by the Japanese government. Grading is decided based on meat color, marbling, brightness, firmness, texture of meat, quality of fat. A5 is the highest grade that Wagyu can achieve. In general talks, Japanese Wagyu is considered the best beef ever produced.
For those who haven’t had the privilege to try it out, regular Japanese A5 Wagyu is nothing short of mesmerizing. The flavor palate covers all facets of an ultimate tasting experience, while still maintaining a balanced umami flavor outcome. Beef is best described as being ultra-beefy, buttery and simply delicious. Putting the overall experience into words is as hard as comparing it to your average Black Angus steak. We know it sounds cliché, but you should try it yourself to discover why it is so coveted!
When talking about Kobe Beef and Ozaki Beef, we are always talking about Japanese Wagyu. However, that statement doesn’t go vice versa. Kobe Beef and Ozaki Beef are two prestigious types of Japanese Wagyu, but Japanese Wagyu carries much more brands than the latter two, such as Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Hokkaido Wagyu.
What is Kobe Beef?
General facts about Kobe Beef
Considered the queen of Wagyu steaks, Kobe Beef is 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. The cattle are fed to a minimum of 26 months and must meet strict grading requirements. Be sure to keep an eye out, as you will always be able to recognize genuine Kobe Beef by spotting the Japanese Chrysanthemum logo on the packaging and branding.
Tasting and texture notes of Kobe Beef
When talking about the exterior, Kobe Beef is known to display extensively wide veins of intermuscular fat. While Kobe Beef has that typical melt-in-the-mouth texture like regular Japanese A5 Wagyu, it does have a deliciously different flavor palate. More precisely, Kobe Beef has a creamier taste and feel in the mouth compared to regular Japanese A5 Wagyu. In our opinion, Kobe Beef takes the term ‘Japanese Wagyu’ to an even higher level.
What is Ozaki Beef?
General facts about Ozaki Beef
Ozaki Beef is produced from Japanese Black Cattle (Kuroge Washu) on one single farm situated in the Miyazaki prefecture, run by Mr. Muhenaru Ozaki. He is the only farmer in Japan that is allowed to use his own name to market his beef.
The secret behind ‘the phantom of Wagyu’ lies in the diet of the cattle, which was perfected over almost two decades by Mr. Ozaki himself. The production process of the cattle feed takes place on a daily basis and takes 2 hours to create. The feed contains up to 15 different ingredients, free of preservatives or antibiotics. To top it off, a mixture of seaweed and algae is included to stimulate blood circulation. Apart from the diet, cattle are matured at least 4 weeks longer than regular Japanese Wagyu cattle. To cut things short, it is safe to say that Ozaki Beef is not your typical Japanese A5 Wagyu beef.
Tasting and texture notes of Ozaki Beef
Apart from the mind-blowing science, the proof of the pudding always lies in the eating. Speaking of which, the flavor palate of Ozaki Beef reveals savory and complex tasting notes, while maintaining that perfect umami flavor that Japanese Wagyu is known for. The distinctiveness really comes into play during the aftertaste, where you will discover subtle hints of sweetness as flavors evolve in your mouth. It is however no overpowering sweetness, rather just a gentle touch that provides that extra kick to an already beautiful tasting palate.
In terms of texture, expect an exploding, melt-in-your-mouth sensation just like regular Japanese A5 Wagyu. If you haven’t tried it before, it is already overwhelming in its own right.
Our final verdict: which is the best Wagyu?
To summarize regular Japanese A5 Wagyu, it reveals extremely beefy, buttery sensations in the mouth while maintaining a perfectly balanced umami flavor. It is extremely tender and juicy, and it is simply not up for comparison with any regular Black Angus steak.
To summarize Kobe Beef, it shows similarities with regular Japanese A5 Wagyu, yet it reveals an even creamier taste than regular Japanese A5 Wagyu which takes the overall flavor experience to a completely new level.
To summarize Ozaki Beef, it shows quite some similarities with regular Japanese A5 Wagyu, yet it reveals ultra-savory and complex tasting notes and a gentle, sweet aftertaste that distinguishes this beef from any regular type of Japanese A5 Wagyu.
Choosing the winner between these beefs generally depends on your personal tasting preferences. The rule of thumb that should always be remembered is that you can never go wrong with the regular Japanese A5 Wagyu experience. If you wish to ramp up your overall tasting experience even more, Kobe Beef as well as Ozaki Beef are perfect weapons of choice. To wrap it all up: it doesn’t get any better than this!
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