Quick Cut: What's The Deal with Wagyu?
“Wagyu” translates to “Japanese cow” and refers to beef from four historically Japanese breeds of cattle. What sets Wagyu beef apart is the fat, which is evenly dispersed throughout the meat. Most raw steaks are red and white, with bands or clumps of white fat running through the red muscle. In contrast, Wagyu steaks are uniformly pink, because the fat is evenly dispersed throughout the muscle.
Wagyu beef is also higher in unsaturated fatty acids (also known as “good fats”) when compared to conventional U.S. beef. This gives Wagyu meat a distinctive flavor. Also, since unsaturated fats have a melting point below human body temperature, a Wagyu steak will literally melt in your mouth.
Kobe beef is a specific variety of Wagyu beef. It must be produced from a certain breed of cattle (the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle) and be raised in Japan’s Hygogo Prefecture (a prefecture is similar to a U.S. state). Kobe beef is very, very rare and is only available at nine high-end restaurants in the entire United States. Kobe beef is not sold at retail.
American-style Kobe beef is more readily available to consumers—it’s produced from Japanese breeds of cattle raised on U.S. farms. The meat has marbling and flavor that’s similar to Wagyu beef, and it is also higher in good fats than conventional U.S. beef. American-style Kobe beef may also be referred to as “Domestic Wagyu” and is often considered to have a better flavor and texture than conventional U.S. beef.