Category Archives: Education

Prime vs Choice at the Grocery Store

I am a big proponent of getting prime cuts when it makes sense. Generally speaking, the difference in quality is outstanding. However, you have to be careful. Don’t buy blind at the grocery store. Look at the photo below. Choice is $14.99/lb and prime is $21.99/lb. The up-charge is primarily for more and better marbling. But look with your own eyes. Does that boneless prime rib eye on top look any more marbled or better than the bone-in choice rib eye? In this case, I might buy the choice cut, even though the prime cut has a bigger Spinalis / fat cap.


Beef Charts

Ever wonder what other products are made from beef?

Interactive Beef Infographic from Gourmet Society

From BLT Prime
From BLT Prime
Kosher beef diagram
Kosher beef diagram

X-Ways-to-eat-steak-around-the-world-DV6 smaller

The Great Noodle Chase

Lately I’ve been on a Japanese ramen binge, but I should also mention my decade-long hankering for Vietnamese pho as well. My wife is Vietnamese, so real-deal, authentic pho is more common in my belly than good ramen. But after having it a few times lately, I felt the need to whip up a post about the two dishes, with pics of course.

First, pho (pronounced like you are saying the word FUN but without the N, and with a tone as if you are asking a question):

For those who may not know, I’ve give a quick rundown of what this awesome shit is. Pho is a very aromatic and highly flavorful beef soup (pho bo) made with LOTS of different parts of the animal: oxtail, marrow, tripe, brisket, eye-round, processed beef balls, etc. The meats are stewed to tender perfection and then served in an almost clear consomme broth that simmered for hours with all the meats and spices like star anise, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and other warm, comforting flavors. The rice noodles used are long and flat, almost like a linguini. It’s topped with cilantro, chilies (optional, of course), bean sprouts, scallions, thinly sliced onion, and a wedge of lime. It’s usually accompanied with plum sauce (hoisin) and chili paste (sri racha) on the side for you to add to taste. The result is something so delicious that you will crave it every day of your life. It’s light, yet hearty. You’ll never find a broth so clear and thin with so much flavor packed in it. Most Vietnamese joints will offer it with chicken too (pho ga), but come on… really? If you are getting it, get a big bowl of the mixed beef. Although, I must say, sometimes I like to order with just the thin-sliced eye-round meat, or that and beef meatballs.

By far the most delicious bowl we ever had was in Vietnam, up in the mountains of Sapa at a resort. It should be noted that pho in Vietnam is different than here in the states. First: there’s a more robust flavor. Second: the sri racha is non-existent as it is not needed. They just utilize their abundance of fresh chili peppers. They DO have a chili paste in Vietnam, but it’s creamier and sweeter than sri racha, and probably better for dipping with fried items than mixing into soup.

Vietnam 02 192

Clearly not everyone can just up and leave to the mountains of Vietnam for a bowl of soup. So if you can’t, try this bowl, from Thai Son restaurant on Baxter Street in NYC. Yes: it’s a Vietnamese food restaurant, not Thai. Definitely not as good as the one above, but at around $6 a bowl you really can’t go wrong:

thai son

Okay now for Japanese ramen:

First, check out this little film to get a sense of what real ramen is. I’m not talking about the little fucking soup packets for $0.33 each in the supermarket, which contain so much fucking sodium that they can be used to salt the highways of a major city in a snowstorm.

The few places I’ve been to in NYC have a variety of flavors and broth bases, ranging from the more traditional pork, to chicken, to miso, to veggie. They vary based on noodle type too – wavy or straight, etc., and also toppings. Some places will serve a basic bowl with a few things in it, and charge a nominal amount for extra toppings like extra pork belly or lean pork, a boiled egg, spicy paste, extra noodles, etc. I tend to lean more toward the pork broth (tonkotsu), although I’ve had some really good chicken based and even curry based broths.

Note: there are lots of people who make it their mission to hunt down the great ramen places all over town, especially in Japan. I can’t compete with those guys… yet… My experience is very limited, but I WILL share a few of my favorite bowls so far, along with location:

Mega Ramen at Totto II in Hell’s Kitchen (51st & 10th) – no need for ordering extras on this. It’s a chicken based broth (REALLY good, by the way – not your average bullshit chicken stock). So hearty and fatty, and topped with tons of different kinds of pork meat. I refer to this one as the pork pool party. $15.

totto ii mega ramen

Tondaku Green Curry Ramen at Bassanova in Chinatown (Mott Street). Different, but really good. More greenery than you would normally expect but it really works. $15. Egg was extra.

bassanova curry

Tondaku Ramen, also at Bassanova. Traditional tonkotsu pork ramen made with Berkshire pork. $13.

bassanova regular

That’s all I’ve got for you assholes right now, other than the fact that the guy from the video is the guy who opened Bassanova.

Do yourselves a favor and go for a swim in a pork pool party – your gullet will thank you. In the meantime, if anyone knows of a beef or rib eye ramen, I’d love to try it. Does it exist? If not, maybe it’s time…

UPDATE 3/15/14 – Real deal beef ramen DOES exist. I heard about some late night ramen joint in the west village called Takashi that serves up an all-beef broth ramen on Friday and Saturday nights only, from 12:00am to 2:00am. It was tough, but I ended up getting a seat for my wife and I to slurp up some of this delicious shit. We started with some beer and took in the surroundings:

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As I mentioned, it’s a beef broth, but it contains crispy beef intestines, FUCKING BRAISED KOBE BEEF BELLY!!!, a soft boiled egg, and alkaline ramen noodles. The little blob of red you see in the middle is the spicy paste that my wife got with her bowl. I prefer no spicy paste, as it masks the beef flavor too much for my liking (though I DO love very spicy foods):

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If you’re in town overnight on a weekend and are up for something bold and adventurous, give this bowl a try. The only problem is that you will need to try for a reservation on the Monday prior at 5pm. That’s when they start taking reservations. I emailed on Tuesday afternoon for my rez and they were already booked solid. They asked if I wanted to be on a waiting list in case someone cancels: I said yes. I found out on Friday at about 4:00pm that they had an opening for me and my wife at midnight. SWEET!

Restaurant Review Website

Hey Meat Minions:

A good buddy of mine has endeavored to start a really cool and much needed Long Island based restaurant review website. It’s fully searchable by cuisine, neighborhood, and type of place (is it good for bar action, date night, etc.). Check it out, and dig the fuck in!

Meat 102: Cuts, Anatomy & Preparation


For those new to the world of steak, or for morons who are just not well-versed in steak lingo, this section should serve as a jumping-off point for all there is to know.  The sections that follow trace the grades and quality, the origins, anatomy and cuts, the cooking styles, and the flavors of meat.  Stop drooling and read on… ONWARD TO THE STEAK!

There are several common cuts of steak on a typical steakhouse menu.  If a steakhouse doesn’t have some of the main choices, then it needs new management, or perhaps it is not a real steakhouse.  These essential cuts are described and pictured below:

The Ribeye:
In most circles this is the true steak eaters steak; this is the real flavor of meat.  A man’s steak, possibly only rivaled by the porterhouse in testosteronic manliness.  As a connoisseur of meat eatery I will almost always go to the rib chop to really test the mettle of a steakhouse to its very bones.  It is cut from the rib of the animal, and has a circular shaped chunk of meat encased in a thin layer of gristle just off the bone.  In the center of the circle of carnivorous delight, there is ideally some good quality, melt-away marbled fat dispersed throughout.  Don’t be alarmed at this.  Good preparation of quality ribeye steaks will render the fat into a liquid – meaning the fat melt into the meat and add flavor to it.  My favorite part of the cut, however, is the outer ridge, outside the gristle and away from the bone.  This section is often several times more tender and juicy than the center of the chop, and it absorbs flavor like a sponge, so savor every bite.  Some restaurants will call the ribeye a “tomahawk steak” if the entire rib bone is left on and french cut by the butcher, since it then looks like a small hatchet.  It is common for butchers to cut the bone down a bit, however, for packaging purposes.  In its unbutchered form, it is a tear-drop shaped slab of beef containing several steaks along each rib.  French cutting exposes the bone neatly, trims away the excess and portions the ribs out into individual steaks.  The ideal way to eat a good ribeye is simply grilled or broiled with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  A favorite for home cooking is to treat it beforehand with some olive oil and garlic if the quality is not prime (standard grocery store cuts), and then cook on a high-heat gas grill or BBQ for a few minutes on each side.  Sizes and portions range from anywhere between 14oz to 36oz, most often hovering around the 20oz mark in restaurants.  Often times it is seen served boneless, bone-in but with a shortened bone, or roasted whole and sliced as “prime rib” with some juices.


The Filet Mignon:
The Filet Mignon, meaning cute or dainty filet, is essentially a tube of “tenderloin” meat that runs along the spine of a steer.  There isn’t much of it per animal, so it is coveted by meat enthusiasts, and therefore often expensive.  It is possibly the most lean, tender part of the animal, so it makes for a great steak.  This is the meat of aristocrats.  Carnivore connoisseurs will argue tirelessly over which is the most flavorful cut – the ribeye or the filet.  My personal opinion is that the ribeye offers the most flavor, but the filet consistently offers the best quality cut of beef.  Cooking a filet at home can present a challenge in avoiding uneven distribution of color, since, to get a large enough portion size, the meat often has to be cut thick.  The outside can be overdone and the inside underdone.  Masterful meat mongers and manipulators know how to get the job done, however, so have no fear.  Sizes range from 6-8oz petit filets (sometimes served alongside lobster for a “surf & turf” meal) to 10oz-12oz standard filets.  The term filet actually means boneless, but there is a trend lately to leave a portion of a nearby bone attached to the filet to impart a more rich flavor to the meat.  Hence the self-defeating, paradoxical “Bone-in Filet” verbiage you may see on a menu.  Common modes of preparation are roasted with a sauce (sometimes whole, banquet style after the tough “silver skin” is removed, as done with chateau briand), grilled, or broiled.  More recently masterful chefs have surmounted the problem of uneven cooking and temperature distribution by using the sous vide cooking method.  Raw preparations include tartar (finely chopped) and carpaccio (thinly sliced and pounded/tenderized), usually served chilled and drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with fresh herbs and garnished with micro greens and shaved hard cheese (such as parmigiano).  The raw preparations are my favorite, and often times show up as an appetizer on steakhouse menus.  Nothing better than getting ready to eat a grilled steak by… eating some raw steak!


The Strip Steak:
The strip steak is most often called the NY Strip, and often times called the Kansas City strip.  But screw that city.  New York is king.  It may also be seen as a “shell steak” but that term is often associated with lower quality cuts  The strip is cut from the short loin, from a muscle that does little work, like the filet.  It contains fat in levels that are somewhat in between the tenderloin (virtually none) and the ribeye (plenty of good, melty fat), and has flavors and textures that are more uniform throughout, unlike the ribeye which has varying textures.  For me, the Strip is best at medium or medium rare, to preserve the tenderness, and at a really great quality, something prime+.  Generally I will try the strip at a steakhouse only after I have tried the ribeye.  You will often see it marinated or rubbed with spices, to impart additional flavors, but grilling and broiling in the traditional style is fantastic as well.  It can be served bone in or boneless.  Leaving the bone in will impart more flavor and help with the cooking process, since the bone conveys heat into the center of the meat while locking in juices.  At home, marinade this puppy in something like soy sauce and garlic, and slap it on the BBQ for a few minutes on each side and you will have the perfect home-cooked steak.


The Porterhouse:
Quite simply, the porterhouse is two steaks in one, a strip on one side, and a filet on the other, separated by a bone – the vertibrae.  This is why you will often see it served “for two” – meaning two people – because they can be quite large (anywhere from 24oz to 48oz for a single portion, to more for multiple people).  But screw that – eat it all yourself and be a man.  Sharing is for assholes and pussies anyway.  The porterhouse for two is often served on a steaming hot plate right out of the broiler, pre-sliced while it is still on the rare side, and then allowed to cook the rest of the way on the hot plate as you shove slice after delicious slice into your mouth and down your esophagus after dipping your meat in its own juices and masticating.


Want more info on those four cuts of beef? Check out Meat 201.

Below are some other cuts less commonly seen on steakhouse menus, though some are becoming more popular lately.  If a steakhouse doesn’t have all these items, they don’t need to close up shop.  However, I feel that every chop house should have at least the four main cuts above and perhaps Something from below: one or two preparations maybe, just to have some other options.

The T-bone:
After a certain stretch of vertibrae, the size of the tenderloin part of the Porterhouse gets smaller, and the strip side gets a little tougher, so the cuts are no longer considered top quality porterhouse, but, instead, standard T-bone steaks.  They are often cut thin and flash fried or grilled.  You don’t see them on steakhouse menus often, since they are not top quality, but they still have a lot of flavor and can be creatively prepared.


The Flank:
The flank is cut from the abdominal muscles. It is broad, long and flat with heavy striations or grain in the meat. As such it is much tougher than the other beef cuts, and therefore moist cooking methods such as braising are often used.  It can also be quickly seared in a hot pan and eaten on the rare side to maintain tenderness. Flank steak is best when it has a bright red color. Because it comes from a well-exercised part of the animal, it is best prepared and eaten when cut across the bias or grain in the meat. Most stir-fried beef dishes and fajitas are prepared with this cut of beef (cut into small pieces and tenderized heavily). Other preparations include marinating or service with a chimichurri sauce.

The Skirt:
Skirt steak is not vagina.  It is a long, flat, striated cut loved for its bold flavor. The outside skirt steak is the trimmed, boneless portion of the diaphragm muscle. This is covered in a tough membrane that should be removed before cooking. The inside skirt steak is a boneless portion of the flank trimmed free of fat and membranes. Skirt steak is also used for making fajitas, stir-fry dishes, and Bolognese Sauce. To minimize their toughness, skirt steaks are either grilled or pan-seared very quickly with high heat or cooked very slowly on low heat, typically braised, like the Flank. Similarly, because of their strong graining, skirt steak is sliced across the grain for maximum tenderness. To aid in tenderness and flavor, they are also often marinated. The skirt steak is sometimes called Roumanian steak. It is commonly grilled or barbecued whole, sometimes served with a chimichurri sauce.


Located near the flank and the skirt is also the Bavette cut.

The Hanger:
Sometimes known as “butcher’s steak” because butchers would often keep it for themselves rather than offer it for sale, the hanger is derived from the diaphragm. Hanger steak resembles flank steak in texture and flavor. It is a vaguely V-shaped pair of muscles with a long, inedible membrane down the middle. The hanger steak is best marinated and cooked quickly over high heat (grilled or broiled) and served rare or medium-rare, to avoid toughness. Anatomically, the hanger steak is said to “hang” from the diaphragm of the steer. The diaphragm is one muscle, commonly cut into two separate cuts of meat: the “hanger steak” traditionally considered more flavorful, and the outer skirt steak composed of tougher muscle within the diaphragm. Occasionally seen on menus as a “bistro steak”, hanger steak is generally marinated, grilled and served with chimichurri sauce.  it can also be used for tacos or fajitas with a squeeze of lime juice, guacamole, and salsa.


The Shank:
The shank is the upper leg. Due to the constant use of this muscle by the animal it tends to be tough, so is best when cooked for a long time in moist heat, such as a braise. As it is very lean, it is widely used to prepare very low-fat ground beef.  Beef shank is a common ingredient in soups and stock.

The Sirloin:
Sirloin is a steak cut from the rear back portion of the animal, continuing off the short loin from which T-bone, porterhouse, and club steaks are cut. The sirloin is actually divided into several types of steak. The top sirloin is the most prized of these. The bottom sirloin is less tender, much larger, and is typically what is offered when one just buys sirloin steaks instead of steaks specifically marked top sirloin. When the fat cap is left on this cut, it is called picanha in many south american countries.


The Flatiron:
Flatiron steak is from the shoulder and is usually 8oz to 12oz. They usually have a significant amount of marbling and can be very tender. It has become popular at upscale restaurants to serve flatirons from Wagyu beef, as a way for chefs to offer more affordable and profitable dishes featuring Wagyu or Kobe beef. It is also commonly referred to as a top blade steak, or an oyster blade steak (sometimes cut across the grain instead of along the seam of connective tissue that runs through the middle).

Photo credit @thefullerone on Instagram.
Photo credit @thefullerone on Instagram.

Directly beneath this cut is where you will find your Teres Major, or shoulder tender steak. You can also find the Denver Cut within the chuck shoulder as well.


Beef Short Ribs:
Beef short ribs are chunks of meat from along the ribs that are highly marbled with fat.  Improper cooking can lead to tough texture.  Often you will see “braised beef rib” on a menu.  This is basically cooked in liquid, slow and low, until the thicker fat melts away, leaving you with extremely tender and soft, flavor infused meat.  Some grocery stores, and asian markets in particular, have short ribs that are cut thin (a quarter to a half inch thick), sometimes with two or three cross sections of rib bones embedded within.  The best way to prepare these thin cuts is to soak them in a marinade and then grill on high heat for a minute or two on each side.


Spare Ribs:
Spare ribs are the most inexpensive cut ribs. They are a long cut from the lower portion of the animal, specifically the belly and breastbone, behind the shoulder. There is a covering of meat on top of the bones as well as between them.


Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest. These muscles support about 60% of the body weight of standing/moving cattle. This requires a significant amount of connective tissue, so the resulting meat must be cooked correctly to tenderize the connective tissue. Slow and moist cooking methods are most common, utilizing spice rubs or marinades, then cooking slowly over indirect heat from charcoal or wood. This is a form of smoking the meat. Additional basting of the meat is often done during the cooking process. This normally tough cut of meat becomes extremely tender brisket, despite the fact that the cut is usually cooked well beyond what would normally be considered “well done”. The fat cap often left attached to the brisket helps to keep the meat from over-drying during the prolonged cooking necessary to break down the connective tissue in the meat. Water is necessary for the process. The finished meat is a variety of barbecue. Other methods of preparation usually include braising or boiling for long periods of time, such as pot roast or corned beef, and sometimes spicing for making pastrami.

The typical chuck steak is a rectangular cut, about 1″ thick and containing parts of the shoulder bones. This cut is usually grilled, broiled or cooked with liquid as a pot roast. The bone-in chuck steak or roast is one of the more economical cuts of beef. It is particularly popular for use as ground beef, due to its richness of flavor and balance of meat and fat. The average meat market cuts thick and thin chuck steaks from the neck and shoulder, but some markets also cut it from the center of the cross-rib portion. Short ribs are cut from the lip of the roll. The chuck contains a lot of connective tissue which partially melts during cooking. Meat from the chuck is usually used for stewing, slow cooking, braising, or pot roasting.

The Chopped Steak:
Essentially a large hamburger; it is chopped meat or ground beef.

Meat 101: Basic Terminology

Marbling: Refers to the quality and look of the intra-muscular fat that is, ideally, evenly dispersed within the meat.

Choice: High quality, widely available beef (top 54% quality).

Prime: Highest in quality and marbling, limited supply (top 3% quality).

Certified Angus Beef (CAB): A program founded by breeders in an effort to certify that Angus cattle have consistent, high-quality beef with superior taste. The terms Angus Beef or Black Angus are loosely and commonly misused or confused with CAB in the food service industry. CAB cannot be legally used by an establishment that is not licensed to do so.

Wagyu: A term used to describe 4 Japanese breeds of cattle that are genetically predisposed to intense marbling of fat. For more info on this delicious shit, see THIS POST. There’s also two grading scales WITHIN the world of Wagyu. First is a letter and number pairing: A, B, or C and 1-5 within each grade, with A5 being the most marbled and C1 being the least. Then there is the BMS (Beef Marbling Standard) scale of 1-12. The best quality you can get in the US is A5 BMS 11. When it’s on a menu, it’s pretty fucking expensive, and usually sold by the ounce.

Kobe: Basically, this is beef from drunk, fat, happy Japanese cows, or so the myth goes. Under japanese law, Kobe beef is a very specific product from a specific place, from one breed of cattle, with very strict rules. It is said that the cattle are hand-fed using high-energy feed, including beer and beer mash, to ensure tenderness and high fat content. The cattle are also hand-massaged to reduce stress. I guess its only fair to pamper them if we are going to slice them up and grill them! NOTE that REAL Kobe beef is NOT available in the USA, so if you see it on a menu, understand that it is a knock off (though probably still very good) from a place other than Japan. For more info on this delicious shit, see THIS POST.

Grass-Fed: Cattle that have been raised exclusively on forage.

Grain-Fed: Cattle raised primarily on forage, but “finished” in a feedlot with grains to fatten them. Also known as “Grain-Finished.”

Certified Organic: Beef that’s labeled as such comes from animals whose production must meet a set of USDA standards. These animals are not allowed to receive any antibiotics or growth promotants, and can only be fed organic grass or grain. Certain vitamins, minerals and vaccines are allowed to keep the livestock healthy. Organically raised cattle may be finished in feeding operations but they must have access to pasture and be fed only organic feedstuffs.

Antibiotic-Free: It is a law that producers must wait a certain amount of time after administering an antibiotic before an animal can be slaughtered for consumption, to ensure that no traces of the antibiotic remains within the beef. These “withdrawl times” are strictly monitored and vary from 0-60 days based on the substance being administered. That means you can be confident that there are no antibiotics in the flesh of the meat you buy at stores or restaurants. Despite that safety assurance, U.S. consumer concern about using antibiotics in animal feed has led to a niche market of products with specialty labels. “Never ever” means that the animal was never given an antibiotic, for example, throughout its entire lifetime. Other labels tout the fact that the animal was not given any antibiotics in the last 60 days of it’s life, or from various points of its life cycle onward.

Dry Aged: After the animal is slaughtered and cleaned, cuts will be placed in a cooler. The beef must be stored near freezing temperatures. Also, only the higher grades of meat can be dry aged, as the process requires meat with a large, evenly distributed fat content. For these reasons one seldom sees dry-aged beef outside of steak restaurants and upscale butcher shops. The key effect of dry aging is the concentration of flavor. The process changes beef by two means. First, moisture is evaporated from the muscle. This creates a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste. Second, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tenderness. The process of dry-aging usually also promotes growth of certain fungal mold species on the external surface of the meat. This doesn’t cause spoilage, but actually forms an external “crust” on the meat’s surface, which is trimmed off when the meat is prepared for cooking. These fungal species complement the natural enzymes in the beef by helping to tenderize, enhance and increase the flavor of the meat. Dry aging of beef is rare in super-markets in the United States today, due to the significant loss of weight in the aging process. Dry-aging can take 15–28 days, sometimes purposely done for longer periods of time, and will see up to a third or more of the weight lost as evaporated moisture.

Wet Aged: Wet-aged beef is beef that has typically been aged in a vacuum-sealed bag to retain its moisture. This is the dominant mode of aging beef in the United States today. Wet-aging is popular because it takes less time (typically only a few days) and none of the weight is lost in the process.

Broiled: Heat source from above, preferably an open flame.

Grilled: Heat source from below, preferably a flame heating a metal grill.

Seared: Cooked on a hot flat usually metal surface, like in a pan.

Sous Vide: Cooked in a sealed bag that is submerged in a temperature controlled bath of hot water.

Confit: Cooked slowly at low temperatures while submerged in liquified fat or oil.

Braised: Cooked slowly at low temperatures in a reducing liquid such as wine or broth.

Roasted/Rotisserie: Cooked slowly in surrounding heat, such as in an oven or over a pit, often rotated on a spit to ensure even contact with the heat source on all sides of the meat throughout the cooking process.

Fried: Cooked in hot oil or fat/lard.

Well Done: Grey throughout.

Medium Well: Slightly pink center, thick grey edges.

Medium: Pink center, grey edges.

Medium Rare: Pink throughout with slightly red center, seared edges.

Rare: Red center, pink edges with a sear on the outside.

Black & Blue: Nearly raw.

Wagyu and Kobe Beef

What exactly IS Wagyu and/or Kobe beef? You see it on menus all the time, right? And usually with insanely jacked-up prices, so high that they make your asshole pucker up tighter than a virgin’s snatch on prom night.


Well here’s a quick low-down on the delicious shit:

Wagyu: This is a term used to describe 4 Japanese breeds of cattle that are genetically predisposed to intense marbling of fat. There’s also two grading scales WITHIN the world of Wagyu. First is a letter and number pairing: A, B, or C and 1-5 within each grade, with A5 being the most marbled and C1 being the least. The second is the BMS (Beef Marbling Standard) score, which is a scale of 1-12. The best quality you can get in the US is A5 BMS 11 (not exactly sure why we can’t get A5 BMS 12). When this shit is on a menu, it’s pretty fucking expensive, and usually sold by the ounce. The four breeds of cattle are Japanese Black, Japanese Brown/Red, Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn.

Kobe: Basically, this is beef from drunk, fat, happy Japanese cows, or so the myth goes. Under Japanese law, Kobe beef is a very specific product from a specific place, from one breed of cattle, with very strict rules. It is said that the cattle are hand-fed using high-energy feed, including beer and beer mash, to ensure tenderness and high fat content. The cattle are also hand-massaged to reduce stress. I guess it’s only fair to pamper them if we’re going to slice ’em up and grill ’em! NOTE that REAL Kobe beef is typically NOT available in the USA, so if you see it on a menu, understand that it may likely be a knock off (though probably still very good) from a place other than Japan. Kobe derives from a strain of the Japanese Black breed of cattle known as Tajima.

Matsusaka: This is also a Japanese Black breed, hailing from the Matsusaka region of Mie, Japan.

Hida Beef: I’ve written a bit more extensively on this brand after attending an event. It is Japanese Black that derives from the Hida region of Gifu, Japan. Click HERE for more info.

Okay now that we have a little bit of the basics set up, you should check out this informative expose on the US beef and restaurant industry’s misuse of the terms Kobe and Wagyu. It is a four part series that dives deep, and dovetails with some similar frustrations I expressed after dining at Sparks. Bottom line: if you see Kobe or Wagyu on a menu in the USA, know that it is meaningless and likely an imitation (though still quite possibly a delicious piece of meat), because the US does not import beef from Japan. I personally have seen and ordered “Kobe style” or “Australian Wagyu” items on menus at some of these places.


BUT WAIT!!! THERE’S MORE!!! Now, just to confuse you even further, SOME Japanese beef is now allowed back in the USA. See the link below.

New Info as of 9/28/12 – some Japanese meats allowed back into the US

Mmmmmmm…. I really don’t give a fuck where it’s from. If it looks like this, I’m salivating.


Yet another good summary of the history and current state of affairs on Wagyu and Kobe beef can be found HERE.