Wagyu beef is the most prized beef in the world because of its superior eating quality compared with other breeds of cattle. Not only does wagyu beef have higher levels of intra-muscular fat or marbling but the meat texture is finer, which results in a more aromatic culinary experience.
Wagyu, which literally translates to cow in Japanese, has hundreds of different brands, the most famous of which is Kobe. All Kobe is wagyu, but not all wagyu is Kobe. A single cow can be sold for up to $30,000. Part of the reason why it’s so expensive is due to its exclusivity and increasing demand.
But how often is a wagyu burger pushed off as something it’s not?
A 2016 Inside Edition expose allegedly caught two famed restaurants, Le Bernadin and Old Homestead selling mislabeled Kobe beef on their menus. Le Bernadin was actually selling a high-grade wagyu to customers, but it just wasn’t Kobe.
Larry Olmsted, author of Real Food Fake Food, says if you see a Kobe slider on a menu, it’s almost certainly a fake.
“So if I if I see Kobe burger, I just assume it’s total B.S. because you’re not that’s never going to be real, he said. “I took a look at some restaurant menus from reliable places that have really A5 Japanese wagyu like Nick and Sam’s in Dallas, and they’re charging $45 dollars an ounce for this meat. Right. So if you’re gonna grind it up and make a burger you’re talking $180 before you pay for the bun,” Olmstead explained.
Wagyu has two signifiers: a letter and a number. The letter relates to yield, or the quantity of edible meat as opposed to the total weight of the cow. The yield for a burger can be rated A, which just means that at least 72 percent of the weight was edible. Yield is typically important to producers, while for burger consumers, the number is more important. The numbers range from 1 to 5, and describe the fat quality, color, texture and how evenly the fat is dispersed throughout the meat.
What a CNBC taste test found when trying several high end restaurants, was that A5 wagyu burgers, while prohibitively expensive for most burger lovers at $150 a burger, were tasty, and the extra fat “created a wonderfully thick, flavorful crust.”
Ok, now I’m hungry.
Watch: Are Wagyu Burgers Worth The Money?
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