Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Japan's Kobe beef back on menus
AP ^ | December 30, 2006 | Libby Quaid

Posted on 01/03/2006 11:48:01 AM PST by billorites

MABANK — For the first time in four years, a gourmet extravagance — authentic Japanese Kobe beef — is allowed back into the United States.

The question is whether anyone will care. An American Kobe-style brand has taken its place on restaurant menus.

Wagyu cattle began arriving in the United States in the 1990s, often flown over from Japan. They are fattened longer than the average American breed; they live about eight to 14 months longer than U.S. beef cattle. U.S. ranchers often crossbreed them with Angus cattle.

The glossy black cows on Meliton Rincon's ranch in Athens are not your average American breed. These Wagyu cows are fattened longer, and the beef is known for its rich flavor because of the fat that melts when cooked. Now the high-quality beef from Japan is allowed back into the U.S. But U.S. ranchers have gotten a foothold in the market with their own version.

"We cannot meet demand," said Todd Hatoff, president of Allen Brothers, which sells high-end beef to fine restaurants.

Kobe beef bursts with flavor, and the fat melts like butter and coats your mouth with velvety richness. The best American Kobe-style steak will cost $80 or more; a Kobe-style hamburger can run $40.

It tastes good because of the fat. The meat is streaked so thickly with fat, the Japanese call it "white steak." When it's cooked, the fat melts into the meat, infusing it with flavor.

"It's very rich, very full-flavored," said Tom Schneller, assistant professor at the Culinary Institute of America. "This is the cream of the crop."

Legend has it that Japanese Kobe cattle are fed beer, massaged with sake, even soothed with soft music. Experts say beer has been used to stimulate their appetites and that sake makes for a glossy coat, on which they are graded.

But that is not how it's done in America, where ranchers believe good genetics and careful feeding are the main ingredients for quality Kobe-style beef.

"It's a great story, and we don't go out of our way to dispel the myth, but it's really not necessary," said Jay Theiler, president of Idaho-based Snake River Farms. "The two things that make Kobe-style beef are genetics and a long feeding program."

It starts with the cows. True Kobe beef comes from the region surrounding the city of Kobe. For centuries, the cattle were used not for meat, but to provide the muscle for rice cultivation. Consumption didn't really take off until after World War II.

The American version of Kobe beef comes from the same breed of cattle raised in Japan. Called Wagyu, a Japanese name that means "Japanese cattle," they began arriving in the United States in the 1990s, often aboard airplanes.

They are fattened longer than the average American breed — they live about 26 to 32 months, compared with 18 months for U.S. beef cattle. U.S. ranchers often crossbreed them with Angus cattle.

The beef they produce is considered better than prime — the highest grade given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prime is for meat that is abundantly marbled with fat. Restaurants and hotels get most of the country's prime beef; only a small amount is sold in supermarkets.

Texas cattleman Gary Yamamoto says at least 97 percent of his Kobe-style Wagyu beef is prime. Nationwide, only about 2 percent of beef earns a prime rating.

The glossy black cows and calves grazing on Yamamoto's gently rolling hills look like any other beef cows. It's hard to tell the full-blood Wagyu cattle apart from Angus cows that Yamamoto uses for crossbreeding.

He started with a small herd, 88 cows and 10 bulls, bought from a Japanese rancher. The rancher, Shogo Takeda, had flown them to the U.S. so he could sell embryos and calves more easily to Australia, another country where Kobe-style beef is flourishing.

Yamamoto wound up buying the herd in 1999; Takeda still advises him and visits his ranch, which is about 55 miles southeast of Dallas.

Yamamoto, a Japanese American, is not a typical rancher. He's a professional bass fisherman with a thriving custom lure business. He drives around his ranches with a Chihuahua nestled in his lap.

While cattlemen can be private about their operations, Yamamoto chats freely — confiding, for example, that the whole thing began because he was looking for a property tax break that comes with grazing livestock or planting trees.

"Once I got into it and learned all the aspects, the health as well as the good taste, I was hooked," Yamamoto said.

Healthy beef? Healthy fatty beef? Absolutely, Yamamoto says; he helped fund research that backs his claim.

A Texas A&M University researcher, Stephen Smith, concluded that compared with American beef, Wagyu beef is much higher in unsaturated fat. It has high levels of oleic acid, the fatty acid in olive and canola oils that has been shown to lower bad LDL cholesterol.

"The health aspect of this animal is what should be the standard for the U.S. cattle herd," Yamamoto said. "If I can put these bulls on any breed and decrease the saturated fat, that would be the standard."

Another selling point for Kobe-style beef is that it's often raised without hormones or antibiotics.

The U.S. banned Japanese beef after mad cow disease was discovered there in 2001. Officials ended the ban in December after Japan ended its own embargo on American beef, imposed because of the threat of mad cow disease.

However, the Japanese won't be sampling American Kobe-style beef because it takes longer to raise than the 21-month age limit Japan has imposed on beef it imports from the United States, also to limit the mad cow threat.

There are no such limits on imports of Japanese Kobe beef. Still, U.S. ranchers have spent four years getting a foothold on the market.

"Just as California wines have taken off, I think you have very good cattlemen here in the U.S. that know how to raise cattle," said Schneller of the Culinary Institute.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Japan; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: beef; cattle; d; food; japan; kobe; kobebeef; obama; ranchers; saturatedfat; steak
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-72 next last

1 posted on 01/03/2006 11:48:02 AM PST by billorites
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Xenalyte

Fire up the grill ping.


2 posted on 01/03/2006 11:54:46 AM PST by El Sordo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: billorites

Where's the Beef?
3 posted on 01/03/2006 11:55:28 AM PST by SC DOC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: El Sordo; Bacon Man; Hap

Mmmmmm, Kobe beef! Sounds SO good right now!


4 posted on 01/03/2006 11:57:08 AM PST by Xenalyte (Can you count, suckas? I say the future is ours . . . if you can count.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: billorites

Lunch time.


5 posted on 01/03/2006 11:57:23 AM PST by Atlas Sneezed (Your FRiendly FReeper Patent Attorney)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: billorites
It's fantastic, but it's hardly beef.
Kobe type beef tastes no more like prime beef than fine Fois Gras tastes like chicken livers. Completely different.

If you want to try it, I recomend the strip sirloin, and you won't need much, it is iincreadibly rich.

So9

6 posted on 01/03/2006 11:57:27 AM PST by Servant of the 9 (Trust Me)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: billorites

I have only had Kobe style beef; it IS first rate, cannot wait to try the real thing


7 posted on 01/03/2006 11:58:13 AM PST by SF Republican
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Toddsterpatriot

Free trade bump. (At least until the next BSE scare).


8 posted on 01/03/2006 11:58:47 AM PST by 1rudeboy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SC DOC
Whoah!!! Is there any meat in that "steak"??? I've seen bacon leaner than that.


9 posted on 01/03/2006 11:59:40 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: billorites

So, how is it in Hamburger Helper?


10 posted on 01/03/2006 12:00:38 PM PST by 11Bush
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: billorites

Kobe Beef?! Wasn't suspending him enough?


11 posted on 01/03/2006 12:00:39 PM PST by D.P.Roberts
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: billorites

Kobe beef is over-rated.

Montana makes perfectly acceptable steak (emphasis on PERFECTLY), and Alberta range-fed beef is just as nice.

For a real treat, go for a New Zealand range-fed steak. Mmmm-mmm! 1-3/4" thick, nice and lean, rare. Plenty of garlic bread on the side! Mushrooms, and peppercorn sauce, just to make it interesting. A few veggies, and of course, red wine.

Kobe beef? Well, I've had it, wasn't overly impressed. Nice enough, but nothing special.


12 posted on 01/03/2006 12:01:34 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (I am the Chieftain of my Clan. I bow to nobody. Get out of my way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SC DOC

PETA will have a fit when they get a look at that picture.


13 posted on 01/03/2006 12:03:02 PM PST by bkepley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ArrogantBustard

At $260.00/lb. for a grade 8 (grade 12 is the finest-shown in the picture)I think I will pass.


14 posted on 01/03/2006 12:04:52 PM PST by SC DOC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: 1rudeboy

Mmmm...beef. My favorite is the 16 oz filet at Gene and Georgetti's.


15 posted on 01/03/2006 12:10:05 PM PST by Toddsterpatriot (The Federal Reserve did not kill JFK. Greenspan was not on the grassy knoll.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Toddsterpatriot

> Mmmm...beef. My favorite is the 16 oz filet at Gene and Georgetti's.

You're from Chicago, right? They make a very tidy steak at Gene & Georgetti's. Most impressed!


16 posted on 01/03/2006 12:16:47 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (I am the Chieftain of my Clan. I bow to nobody. Get out of my way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: DieHard the Hunter
You're from Chicago, right?

Why yes I am! Side order of creamed spinach, yummy.

17 posted on 01/03/2006 12:18:32 PM PST by Toddsterpatriot (The Federal Reserve did not kill JFK. Greenspan was not on the grassy knoll.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: billorites

I have eaten at NOBU in NYC a few times. The kobe beef last I went was 8 dollars an ounce. That would make Chef Nobu's 128 a lb.


18 posted on 01/03/2006 12:19:05 PM PST by alisasny (BYE B YE TOOKIE)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Toddsterpatriot

Steakhouses are nice ... but if I want a steak really done right, I grill it myself.


19 posted on 01/03/2006 12:21:00 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: billorites

20 posted on 01/03/2006 12:21:20 PM PST by fishtank
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: fishtank
MMMMmmmmm .... grilled haunch of Uruk-hai. Yummy.

"Orc: It's what's for dinner!"

21 posted on 01/03/2006 12:23:14 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Toddsterpatriot
Speaking of creamed spinach, did you hear that The Berghoff is closing?
22 posted on 01/03/2006 12:24:00 PM PST by 1rudeboy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: alisasny

> I have eaten at NOBU in NYC a few times. The kobe beef last I went was 8 dollars an ounce. That would make Chef Nobu's 128 a lb.

Ouch! That's a fair snootful. Instead, come to New Zealand, try our steak (the lamb is even nicer) and enjoy our hospitality. We keep the good stuff for domestic consumption and export the rest.

Guarantee you'll enjoy it.


23 posted on 01/03/2006 12:24:20 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (I am the Chieftain of my Clan. I bow to nobody. Get out of my way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: billorites

Texas cattleman Gary Yamamoto? How hath the mighty fallen?


24 posted on 01/03/2006 12:24:37 PM PST by paddles
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 1rudeboy

> Speaking of creamed spinach, did you hear that The Berghoff is closing?

That even made the news DownUnder. Tragedy!


25 posted on 01/03/2006 12:25:24 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (I am the Chieftain of my Clan. I bow to nobody. Get out of my way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: paddles

Don't wagyu beef at me, pardner.


26 posted on 01/03/2006 12:25:53 PM PST by paddles
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: ArrogantBustard

Steakhouses are nice ... but if I want a steak really done right, I grill it myself.

From the prices they're quoting for this beef, the only way I could afford to eat one, is at home.


27 posted on 01/03/2006 12:25:58 PM PST by wolfcreek
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: 1rudeboy
That's a real drag. My grandmother used to meet her dad there for lunch. My first date with my wife was there (second date was a Cubs game).
28 posted on 01/03/2006 12:26:37 PM PST by Toddsterpatriot (The Federal Reserve did not kill JFK. Greenspan was not on the grassy knoll.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: SF Republican; Bacon Man; Hap

Bacon and Hap and I had some for New Year's Eve a few years back - we ordered it from some online steak provider - and I'm here to tell you, there is NOTHING that measures up to it. It is hands-down THE best beef I've ever eaten.


29 posted on 01/03/2006 12:29:26 PM PST by Xenalyte (Can you count, suckas? I say the future is ours . . . if you can count.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: SC DOC
some leaner cuts here...

30 posted on 01/03/2006 12:29:31 PM PST by Slicksadick (Go out on a limb........Its where the fruit is.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Slicksadick
For those that like it rare, Kobe beef sushi... Kobe Beef Sushi
31 posted on 01/03/2006 12:31:27 PM PST by Slicksadick (Go out on a limb........Its where the fruit is.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Xenalyte

I have had Kobe steaks twice in my life. Once as a 10 year old on a trip around the world with my grandparents in Kobe Japan, and once in Naha, which is the capitol of the island of Okinawa in 1967 prior to going incountry to Viet Nam.

It is an experience you should not miss if you have the opportunity (the steaks, not viet nam).


32 posted on 01/03/2006 12:31:57 PM PST by stumpy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: DieHard the Hunter

Believe me, Australia is on my list of places to travel too.



33 posted on 01/03/2006 12:46:13 PM PST by alisasny (BYE B YE TOOKIE)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: wolfcreek
At a butcher near me I pay 18.99 lb for filet mignon when I am having a small dinner party for 4 people. The steaks are awesome. Best I have found. Usually I order from Omaha Steaks and they have never disappointed me either.
34 posted on 01/03/2006 12:47:39 PM PST by alisasny (BYE B YE TOOKIE)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Xenalyte; El Sordo; Hap

There's two different types of Kobe beef? I think we need to get some of each and find out which is superior!


35 posted on 01/03/2006 12:51:59 PM PST by Bacon Man (And he says "I like the cut of your jib baby!" and I say "You better, it's the only jib I got!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: denco

Ping.

Hope you get some rain soon.


36 posted on 01/03/2006 12:51:59 PM PST by Springman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Slicksadick

The leaner the cut in Kobe grading, the more inferior the meat. Go figure.


37 posted on 01/03/2006 12:53:11 PM PST by SC DOC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: alisasny

> Believe me, Australia is on my list of places to travel too.

The Aussies make a good steak, too. Very nice indeed, all respect to our Australian cousins in that department!

En-route to Australia, have a stopover in New Zealand. 'Tis a long flight from the US, after all. Refresh yourself, enjoy our hospitality and then Go for Gold on the other side of the Tasman.

I recommend specifically 3 days and nites at Rotorua, stay at the Polynesian Spa and take in the thermal hot pools. Nothing better! Then one nite in Auckland, dine at Black Angus steak house (Albert Street) for the finest steak money can buy. You'll be all ready for Australia after that.


38 posted on 01/03/2006 12:54:28 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (I am the Chieftain of my Clan. I bow to nobody. Get out of my way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: DieHard the Hunter
For a real treat, go for a New Zealand range-fed steak.

Sounds great...

39 posted on 01/03/2006 1:02:00 PM PST by GOPJ (Bob Woodward-Ace reporter or FBI agent's hack stenographer? (Hint: Deep's stenographer))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Slicksadick

Hmmm ... that's a good bit more reasonable. The 'New York Strips" in the upper right look really good.


40 posted on 01/03/2006 1:04:40 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: billorites

I had some in Japan, and it just melted in my mouth. Really extraordinary.
Foolishly, when I came home I tried to bring some steaks back and the Customs agents seized them.


41 posted on 01/03/2006 1:05:04 PM PST by untenured (http://futureuncertain.blogspot.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DieHard the Hunter

Oh please do forgive me. I know my brain read NZ but my head said Australia. I am so sorry for the confusion on that matter.


NZ is on my travel list sheet also. I am so damn silly : )))

Have you been to NYC? If so do let me know your coming so I can hook you up with the best of FOODS!!!!!!!!


42 posted on 01/03/2006 1:06:24 PM PST by alisasny (BYE B YE TOOKIE)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: GOPJ

> Sounds great...

Tastes even better! Crikey, all this steak-talk is making me hungry. Time to spark up the barbie I reckon. Gotta nice couple of sirloins aging down in the back of the fridge, plus a good handful of shrimp: sounds like a nice summer snack.


43 posted on 01/03/2006 1:07:45 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (I am the Chieftain of my Clan. I bow to nobody. Get out of my way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: alisasny
> Have you been to NYC? If so do let me know your coming so I can hook you up with the best of FOODS!!!!!!!!

New York City is one of my favorite places on this planet. I was devastated by 9/11 -- I can't imagine the place without the WTC. New Yorkers are difficult to get to know, but the effort is worth it, definitely! Great people, great attitude, thoroughly entertaining good mates.

I have wonderful memories of NYC.
44 posted on 01/03/2006 1:13:22 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (I am the Chieftain of my Clan. I bow to nobody. Get out of my way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: DieHard the Hunter

One of my friends recently went to the TOP OF THE ROCK. She said it was better then the top of Empire and WTC combined. I must get there real soon. I never saw her say something like that. My hub works in NYC so its hard to convince him to go back in with his family but we manage to do so or I go with my gals or my kids.


45 posted on 01/03/2006 1:16:11 PM PST by alisasny (BYE B YE TOOKIE)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: billorites; maikeru; Dr. Marten; Eric in the Ozarks; Al Gator; snowsislander; sushiman; ...
All that fat can thin one's wallet way too quickly. I prefer the bulk NY Strip slab from Costco.

Japan * ping * (kono risuto ni hairitai ka detai wo shirasete kudasai : let me know if you want on or off this list)

46 posted on 01/03/2006 1:30:05 PM PST by DTogo (I haven't left the GOP, the GOP left me.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DieHard the Hunter

Gene & Georgetti's is my favorite steakhouse in the world. And I'm from Texas.


47 posted on 01/03/2006 2:00:11 PM PST by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: paddles
Texas cattleman Gary Yamamoto? How hath the mighty fallen?

Here in Texas, we don't care where a man's family comes from. It's what they do after they get here that matters to us.

Yamamoto, Garcia, Sapp, Czarnecki -- the last name is irrelevant. A man who lives life the Texas Way is a Texan, period.

48 posted on 01/03/2006 2:05:34 PM PST by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: B-Chan

Texans know a thing or two about good beef. Had a great steak in El Paso. If I think hard I can still taste it.


49 posted on 01/03/2006 2:06:39 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (I am the Chieftain of my Clan. I bow to nobody. Get out of my way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]

To: B-Chan

> Yamamoto, Garcia, Sapp, Czarnecki -- the last name is irrelevant. A man who lives life the Texas Way is a Texan, period.

That's one of the things I like about Texans. Yer a good lot, not to be messed with. Not unlike Kiwis in that respect.

Cheers, mate


50 posted on 01/03/2006 2:10:01 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (I am the Chieftain of my Clan. I bow to nobody. Get out of my way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 48 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-72 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson