Tag Archives: wagyu

Esora Omakase

I was recently invited to try a new Wagyu and tempura Omakase restaurant connected to J-Spec in the East Village, called Esora.

This was one of the most incredible Omakase experiences I’ve had. We started with a trio of appetizers: wagyu tartare + uni, scallop + caviar, and tofu.

All were excellent, but the wagyu tartare and uni was possibly the best bite of the night!

Next up was sashimi. More wagyu strip, as well as sea bream and blue fin tuna.

Wagyu sushi? YUP! We got a taste of both Hida and Ozaki strip here. Torched (Ozaki), and raw (Hida).

The tempura portion of the meal was so much fun, and the bites seemed to just keep coming!

Prawn heads (and bodies):

Okra:

Magochi fish:

Maitake mushroom!

Tenderloin wrapped in shiso leaf. Awesome!

Corn:

Scallop:

Squash blossom and Japanese pumpkin:

Sea Eel:

And finally, sweet potato:

We washed that down with a really tasty seafood and mushroom soup, served in a nice tea kettle with citrus (dobinmushi).

Next, we had STEAK! Wagyu strip from Hida:

…and from the Ozaki family brand:

Check this out!

I liked the Ozaki a bit better:

There was also sea bream rice with ikura:

And finally, dessert: earl grey tea panna cotta, roasted green tea, and peach compote.

I highly recommend this place. Make sure to call ahead at least 24hrs before booking. There are only seven seats at the bar with the chef, and there are a limited number of seatings each day.

ESORA OMAKASE
239 E 5th St
New York, NY 10003

Carne Mare

Carne Mare overall score: 90*

Carne Mare is a great Italian steakhouse down in the seaport. My wife and I went with another couple this past weekend, and we really dove in!

Flavor: 10

We had both the prime rib and the 45-day dry aged porterhouse for two. If I had to pick a favorite between the two, it would be the prime rib.

It was “porchetta spice” rubbed on the outside, and cooked to a perfectly tender and juicy medium rare inside. It floated in a shallow pool of veal jus. Amazing. This baby now ranks in my top 5 for sure.

The porterhouse was nicely cooked and served on a metal platter with bone marrow, herbs, a light watercress salad, and blistered cherry tomatoes. Great aged flavor, and even cook temp all over.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

I wanted to take a point here because they ran out of the duck that we wanted to try, and also because the prime rib is very limited. By 8pm on a Friday, there were only two pieces left. Go early! However, I decided to restore the point, since I wanted to try the veal over the duck anyway, and that’s what we ended up having.

Portion Size & Plating: 10

The prime rib was 16oz, and the porterhouse was 45oz. Both are robust. Other portion sizes were healthy as well, especially for the carpaccio apps, which I find are typically small.

Price: 7

This joint is definitely pricey. At $66 for the prime rib and $185 for the porterhouse, you are well over the average for NYC pricing. However, the quality is top notch, so I didn’t feel too burned over it. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t order the porterhouse again since it comes out to $92.50 per person. That’s high!

Bar: 10

The bar here is beautiful, as is the entryway into the bar room.

With views of the water, this is almost unbeatable. They have a great selection of cocktails and booze, and I definitely enjoyed the martinis they mixed for me.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

There were no real specials read to us, but I didn’t expect much from a steakhouse with such an extensive menu. We did try the veal milanese. This was good, but it could have been better. It was breaded and fried whole, without being pounded flat like a traditional milanese dish.

Because of that, it had a bit too much chew. I also expected a mix of greens to be on there as well, which is common with a milanese.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

What an awesome set of apps and desserts. First off, the octopus and veal carpaccio apps were probably the best apps I’ve had in a long time. Please make sure you get them.

On the side, we had a roasted and smoked beet (which was actually a veggie entree item), mushrooms and roasted carrots. All of them were great, but when you go, you should focus on the mushrooms (marsala style with porcini cream).

The baked spumoni is an absolute show stopper with layers of chocolate, vanilla, cherry and lemon inside. Save room for dessert!

Seafood Selection: 6

All of the seafood we tried was great, and the selection was nice as well. The main letdown of the meal was the spicy lobster spaghetti. I just sorta fit it into this category though, so don’t let this be an indication of their other seafood entrees.

It was cooked nicely, but the portion of pasta was on the small side (lobster was large though). Also, there was no real spice to it. Meh. Good pasta, but not enough of it and not spicy as advertised.

Service: 10

Our waiter was amazing, as were the hostesses, bartenders and managers. Our first table had a leak from the ceiling overhead (it had just started to pour, thunder and lightning). They swiftly moved us to a table that had an even better view, and they graciously gave us a bottle of wine that was worth nearly $200. We were blown away.

Also worth noting: they serve amazing table bread here, in the style of pull-apart bread. They will just keep bringing it out if you ask.

Ambiance: 10

This place is really nicely appointed. I can’t wait to go back and experience a meal in the bar room. High ceilings, good music, not too loud and not too quiet.

CARNE MARE
89 South St
Pier 17
New York, NY 10038

Life Rooftop

Life Rooftop took over the space formerly known as the Viceroy at the top of Le Meridien hotel, near Central Park. The views are spectacular.

The cocktails are excellent.

And the food, which is more along the bites and small portions angle, is really delicious. The seafood tower is impressive. It comes with lobster, king crab, langoustines, shrimp, clams, oysters, caviar, tuna tartare and hamachi crudo.

The lobster roll is pretty packed full of meat too.

The stars of the meal for me, though, were the deviled eggs with caviar, and the wagyu tartare.

Their dessert sundae and churros were really great too. I’d definitely eat here again.

LIFE ROOFTOP
24 W 57th St
29th Floor
New York, NY 10019

Primal Cut Grille

The menu here at Primal Cut Grille (Inside the Sapphire 39th Street strip club) is largely the same as the menu at Primal Cut (inside the Sapphire 60th Street strip club). This review is just a photo dump of the items we had there, with reference back to the original review of the 60th Street location (which is now undergoing renovations). Also check out this cool video of their baller’s steak, the Golden Tomahawk:

Wagyu Social

I recently got delivery from Wagyu Social and it was a really fun experience. Everything came nicely packaged in round boxes, no spillage, still hot and crispy, and everything neatly organized.

This place is doing some high end burgers that range from $35 for hybrid wagyu burgers to $85 for 100% A5 Japanese wagyu burgers. They even have some sushi items too.

I tried the curry burger and the high roller. The curry burger is a wagyu/angus blend that comes with a delicious sauce for dipping, and it even pairs well with the crispy shoestring fries.

I also tried the high roller, which is their 100% Japanese A5 burger that’s topped with foie gras and truffle sauce. Total decadence!

I think I liked the curry burger best. It was a totally unique burger, and the flavors worked great. Give it a shot!

WAGYU SOCIAL
238 E 53rd St 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10022

What is Wagyu Beef?

Most people usually associate the word Wagyu 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 is a compound word of sorts. Wa means Japan, and gyu means beef. Hence, beef that hails from Japan. In the beef world it’s a term used when referring to four Japanese breeds of cattle that are genetically predisposed to intense marbling in their muscles. The four breeds of cattle are Black, Brown/Red, Polled and Shorthorn.

Until recently, Japanese beef was not imported into the United States, so any time you saw Wagyu on a restaurant menu, it was either a lie or an incomplete description. It was most likely beef from either an Australian or American hybrid Wagyu cross-breed animal.

Hybrid beef isn’t something that should be frowned upon. Many of the Wagyu cross-breeding programs produce excellent, highly marbled beef that strikes a nice balance between the traditional, robustly beefy flavors of the United States and that buttery-soft, intensely marbled Japanese stuff (which eats more like foie gras or some other protein, different from what we usually think of when we eat beef).

Lots of people get their panties in a bunch when you call the cross-bred stuff Wagyu, even at levels of full blood and purebred. They tend to confuse the literal translation of the word Wagyu (Japan beef) with the breed of cattle that the word represents.

The Wagyu breed is not and should not be region specific. Just as Angus did not cease to be Angus when it was imported from Scotland to the United States in the 1800’s, Wagyu does not cease to be Wagyu when it moves abroad. Both breeds are named for the locations where they originated.

In fact, almost every major European cattle breed was named after the location where it originated. Does that mean the ones that are raised in America should be called something else? No! We don’t call a German Shepherd an American Shepherd just because the breeder operates in New York. We don’t do that even when the animal isn’t purebred! So why treat Wagyu differently? It’s stupid.

On the flip side, the Wagyu breeds should not be confused or conflated with something like Kobe beef, which has some strict parameters to its regional product branding. That’s right, it’s a brand.

 

Kobe Beef

What exactly is Kobe beef? The easiest way to think about Kobe beef is to liken it to Champagne. To be called Champagne, the bottle has to be from the Champagne region of France, otherwise it’s just “sparkling wine.” The same logic applies to Kobe beef.

Under Japanese law, Kobe beef is a very specific product from a specific place, from one breed of cattle, with very strict rules. Kobe derives from a strain of the Japanese Black breed of Wagyu cattle known as Tajima. It’s said that the cattle are hand-fed using high-energy feed, including beer and beer mash, to ensure tenderness and high fat content. Basically, they’re grain-fed. The cattle are also apparently hand-massaged to reduce stress. I guess it’s only fair to pamper these beautiful beasts if we’re going to slice them up and grill them!

Note that real Kobe beef is typically not readily or easily available in the United States, 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 the Kobe region of Japan. As of the time of this book writing, there are only about nine places on America’s east coast that sell legit Kobe beef.

Other Regions of Japan

Several other regions of Japan have also branded themselves as beef specialty production zones similar to Kobe. Miyazaki produces some excellent beef, and beef from this prefecture is more commonly seen at high-end steakhouses and Japanese restaurants here in the United States. Matsusaka in Mie, Japan and Hida in Gifu, Japan are other areas that produce similarly outstanding beef. Both of them are harvesting Japanese black breeds of Wagyu, and holding the final product to rigorous quality standards.

Even Hokkaido has set itself apart with what is called “Snow Beef.” This product from the cold region of Hokkaido is said to be a unique expression of beef with intense flavor that can only be created in this rare environment. It’s said that the mountainous climate causes extra fat to develop in the animals, and that the cold weather lowers the melting point of their fat. This supposedly creates sweetness in the meat. I’ve tasted this stuff. It’s great, but I don’t know how much of that copy I believe. The purveyors from Japan are masterful at marketing their products.

Japanese Beef Marketing

People who love Japanese beef also love to talk about how the animals are given beer. “Drunk happy cows,” they say. They’re not drunk. They’re fed beer mash, which is likely just a waste byproduct from Japan’s booming beer-making businesses. We do the same here in the United States with whiskey mash byproducts.

Some producers in Japan are incorporating olives into the feed, and it makes for some deliciously enticing marketing campaigns. This is similar to how many United States beef producers incorporate different foodstuffs into their cattle feed depending on their localized and regional agriculture markets (almonds in California, sunflower seeds in New York, etc.). The Japanese are adept at marketing these feeding programs, and we could learn a thing or two from them.

Meat lovers here in the United States would go nuts for “almond-fed beef.” They’d be drunk with excitement for “whiskey beef.” Just imagine the wine pairings that could be had with beef that was fed different crushed wine grape varietal byproducts, which would’ve otherwise been discarded as waste from a winery’s pressing operation.

In reality, the United States and Japan’s feeding programs aren’t all that different. The animals eat grass, grain and a smattering of additional fermentation, distillation and industrial byproducts. The difference is really in the animals’ genetics when it comes to how much intramuscular fat they can develop.

I really don’t give a fuck where the meat is from, to be honest. If it looks like this, I’m salivating.

That’s probably about BMS 12, aka ultra-high prime.

Johnny Prime’s Wagyu Chop Shop Alert!!!

Johnny Prime’s Chop Shop Alert!!!

I’ve got access to some really wild stuff through a Wagyu supplier that I recently became friends with. His insane prices are really hard to beat! And the quality is off the charts – especially the Japanese, Joshu and Olive Wagyu stuff! See below for ordering instructions and this month’s price list. These are NOT available in my e-shop, because we are going directly through the supplier (hence the great pricing).

INSTRUCTIONS

Email me at johnny@johnnyprimesteaks.com listing your name, address, cell phone number and your order. My supplier will be in touch soon after to process the order and take payment. Everything is shipped fresh/not frozen, via FedEx two-day (order enough and shipping is free). There are no limits or minimum order quantities for the list below. LET’S GO!!!

FEBRUARY PRICE LIST

Aussie Wagyu – Sirloin BMS 6/7 8oz – $10ea
Aussie Wagyu – Sirloin BMS 9+ 8oz – $15ea
Aussie Wagyu – Rib Eye BMS 6/7 15-16oz – $40ea
Aussie Wagyu – Rib Eye BMS 8/9 15-16oz – $65ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 6/7 15-16oz – $40ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 8/9 15-16oz – $60ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 9+ 15-16oz – $70ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 11 15-16oz – $85ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 12 15-16oz – $95ea
Aussie Wagyu – Filet BMS 8/9 8oz – $55ea
Aussie Wagyu – Whole Picanha BMS 4/5 – $19.95/lb
Aussie Wagyu – Whole Picanha BMS 6/7 – $27.95/lb
Aussie Wagyu – Whole Picanha BMS 8/9 – $32/95/lb
Aussie Wagyu – Tomahawk BMS 6/7 32oz – $80ea
Aussie Wagyu – Short Rib Tomahawk 16oz – $35ea
Aussie Wagyu – Denver BMS 8/9 8oz – $40ea
Aussie Wagyu – Brisket BMS 8/9+ Purebred – $12.95/lb
Aussie Wagyu – Teres Major Petite Tender BMS 8/9+ 14-16oz – $20ea
Aussie Wagyu – Ground Beef 1lb – $10/pack
Aussie Wagyu – Burger Patties 1lb – $10/pack

Japanese A5 – Rib Eye BMS 8/9 Kagoshima 15-16oz – $99ea
Japanese A5 – Rib Eye BMS 9/10 15-16oz – $120ea
Japanese A5 – NY Strip BMS 9/10 15-16oz – $120ea
Japanese A5 – NY Strip End Steaks 15-16oz – $80ea
Japanese A5 – Filet BMS 9/10 8oz – $125ea
Japanese A5 – Filet 16oz Portioned – $150/lb
Japanese A5 – Filet End Pieces – $100/lb
Japanese A5 – Fajita 8oz – $45ea
Japanese A5 – Picanha 14-15oz – $95ea
Japanese A5 – Top Sirloin 8oz – $45ea
Japanese A5 – Sliced Chuck Roll 8oz – $40ea
Japanese A5 – Ground Beef 1lb – $35/pack

Joshu Wagyu – Gunma Rib Eye BMS 9/10 – $130/lb
Joshu Wagyu – Gunma Rib Eye BMS 11/12 – $150/lb
Joshu Wagyu – Gunma NY Strip BMS 9/10 – $130/lb
Joshu Wagyu – Gunma NY Strip BMS 11/12 – $150/lb
Joshu Wagyu – Gunma Filet BMS 11/12 8oz – $150ea

Olive Wagyu – Western Griller 8oz – $15ea
Olive Wagyu – NY Strip 15-16oz – $130ea (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Rib Eye 15-16oz – $130ea (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Fajita 8oz – $15ea
Olive Wagyu – Denver 8oz – $65ea (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Flat Iron 8oz – $45ea (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Rib Cap Lifter/Deckle – $25/lb (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Top Sirloin Baseball 8oz – $20ea
Olive Wagyu – Flank – $25/lb
Olive Wagyu – Cheek – $25/lb (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Ground Beef 1lb – $18/pack
Olive Wagyu – Burgers 1lb – $18/pack
Olive Wagyu – Sliders 1lb – $18/pack
Olive Wagyu – Smoked Sausage 1lb – $15/pack
Olive Wagyu – Brisket – $24.95/lb (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Cooking Fat – 24oz – $20ea

Bison Short Ribs – 16-18oz – $20ea

Foie Gras – $70/lb

Wagyuman

The Wagyu Man e-shop is currently offering 10% off all orders, and a free order of chuck roll wagyu shabu shabu with each wagyu beef order!

The otoro tuna is insane, and has marbling that looks more like beef than fish.

And the beef? Well, check out these flat iron steaks. INSANE!

 

La Grande Boucherie

Boucherie just keeps the hits coming! Even in the face of a global pandemic, these guys opened up shop in spectacular fashion. While the menu is similar to their village locations, this joint offers Chef Dom’s incredible prime rib.

Nice and thick – 9/10!

We also took down their pork and veal chops, both of which were stunning and delicious – 10/10.

What really stands out to me about this place is the decor. The joint is situated on 6 1/2 Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets in midtown. The restaurant spans the entire length of the atrium, with high glass ceilings overhead.

It’s a beautiful place to eat, and much of it is technically outdoors. The Christmas season is very special here, with their massive tree in place.

The floors are heated, so you’ll actually feel warm even when sitting outside.

Like their other locations, they still have a nice meat/charcuterie area, stocked with legs of prosciutto and even dry aged steaks.

All of their classics are well represented, like escargots and absinthe cocktails.

We especially liked their seafood apps like the shellfish tower (the raw bar here is incredible – almost as big as their regular bar), the smoked salmon, and the whipped cod and potatoes.

And the broiled lobster? INSANE!

Since everything is pretty much the same aside from the prime rib and a few other menu items, I’ve decided to piggyback this review off of my reviews of their other locations in the West Village and Union Square. Definitely get over here ASAP and give it a shot.

Overall Score: 95

LA GRANDE BOUCHERIE
145 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019

NOW OPEN: My Butcher Shop

WWW.JOHNNYPRIMEMEATS.COM

The time has finally come for me to start slinging meat as opposed to just crushing it.

Over the last six years I’ve really fine-tuned my taste for high quality beef. I can almost pick out flavor notes like those freaks who test milk and wine, only I do it with beef. Blue cheese “funk” here, aroma of hazel nuts there, earthy mushrooms over yonder. You get the idea.

Writing restaurant reviews lead to writing recipes, and striving to replicate the steakhouse experience in my kitchen – even to the point of dry-aging beef at home.

My concern and respect for this amazing protein also fostered a desire to learn about the entire beef life cycle: from cow/calf operations to stockers and backgrounders; from corn farms to grazing ranches; from forage to feed; from fabrication floor to front of the case, and all the way back to the restaurant again. Start to finish. No stone left unturned. I’ve even addressed various nutritional and environmental concerns.

I’ve become an expert on steak. But photographing, eating and writing about beef was no longer satisfying me. It seemed that I hit a wall and was spinning my wheels. I wasn’t fulfilling the goals I had for this website. Or maybe my goals changed, because now I feel the need to offer these meaty experiences to you, rather than just tell you about them. I’m still going to review restaurants, highlight products and write informative articles about beef. But now there’s got to be more than just those things.

That’s why I’ve decided to open an online butcher shop. I’ve been working with an extremely high end “middle meats” company that has the resources and connections to buy out massive stocks of incredible prime, American Wagyu and even Japanese Kobe beef. They’ve got a multi-million dollar state of the art facility in the Bronx’s famous Hunt’s Point Cooperative Market with a crazy dry-aging room, a huge blast freezer and all the support they need from an incredibly skilled team of butchers.

All my steaks are cut to order, and can be fully customized. They’re individually vacuum sealed, wrapped in butcher paper and signed by a butcher before being shipped to you. Shipping, by the way, will be free and arrive at your door just 2-days after the order is cut.

I’m really excited about this. I’ve hand selected every cut that I’m offering, and I’ve even cooked up and tasted everything to verify that it’s something I’d want on my own plate. If you tend to agree with me on my steak review opinions, then you’re in good hands with anything you order from my butcher shop. You won’t be disappointed. Johnny Prime Meats will impress you.

My plan is to stock a few items that will always be available. For example, the best steak I’ve ever eaten is the American Wagyu strip.

I’ll be offering that all the time, along with a few prime dry-aged rib eye options and a prime dry-aged porterhouse.

But the bonus is that I’ll also be showcasing some rare and unique proteins that have limited supply and quantity. For example, I’ve got my hands on some really sweet dry-aged Duroc pork rib chops right now, as well as some dry-aged tenderloin tails for the grill. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll try to locate some dry-aged veal, American Wagyu hanger steaks, or lamb bacon.

And speaking of bacon, you’ll be able to add a pound of thick cut bacon to any order for just $10 at checkout. Because what steak meal at home is complete without that steakhouse style slab of thick cut bacon?

I hope you guys are interested. Check out the shop. Browse the offerings. And keep your eyes on my meat!