Are you confused? What is Wagyu beef, anyway? Let’s take a moment to clear it up. Wagyu literally means “Japanese (wa) cow (gyu).” Wagyu beef cattle originate from Japan, whether they were born there or abroad. There are American Wagyu, and those cattle trace their lineage back to Japanese cows that were imported in the 1970s.
So, what is Kobe beef? Kobe is a type of Wagyu only raised in Japan. To understand this, you might think about the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine. You can have a delicious, high-quality sparkling wine from anywhere in the world, but only the wine made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. Similarly, Kobe beef can only come from cattle from a particular Wagyu breed, born in the Tajima province of Japan, in the Hyogo region of that province. Does that seem pretty specific? It only gets more specific from there! These cattle have to be raised in a very careful way, slaughtered in an appointed slaughterhouse. Then the meat is graded on a very strict scale, with only the best meat designated as Kobe. This helps to explain the exorbitant Kobe beef price you’ll have to pay to try it- if you can find it.
Until recently, it was illegal to import Kobe beef into the United States. A ban was placed on importing Japanese meats because of the threat of mad cow disease. The restrictions were lifted in 2012, but even while they were in place, you could still get American Wagyu beef. So, now that you can get Kobe again, there’s once again the option of Kobe beef vs Wagyu. Which one should you choose?
Honestly, there’s no wrong answer. Order an authentic Kobe or Wagyu steak and you’ll get the same creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery flavor that makes these meats so special. A Kobe cow or a Wagyu cow will both have increased intramuscular fat, which gives them the beautiful marbling that’s so highly prized by beef connoisseurs. It’s easier to obtain Wagyu beef, though, because Kobe beef must be imported from Japan, while Wagyu cattle can be raised on American soil. If you plan to order Kobe at a restaurant, check the Kobe-Niku registry: only a few restaurants in the United States actually serve authentic Kobe beef.
For top-quality American Wagyu Beef, you can trust Triple T Ranch. Located in south Alabama, our small, family-owned-and-operated ranch is a place where practicing proven husbandry techniques ensures the health and prosperity of the herd. Our cattle are well cared for and registered through the American Wagyu Association. Call (251)732-5160 or contact us through our website for more information.