The truth about Kobe beef – Japan

Version française

NO, it doesn’t receive any massage with Sake but YES, it really is a meltingly soft meat…

I tell you “everything” (I know) about Kobe beef

Kobe beef_hyogo_Japan_Yabu_Top things to try_Do_see_Culinary trip_2

What we think we know about Kobe beef :

  • Its main competitor is another japanese beef called “Wagyu”
  • Kobe beef lives in Kobe
  • It’s the best meat ever in the world / It’s the most tender meat in the world
  • Kobe beef receives sake massage everyday its entire life
  • Farmers listen to “mozart” in the kobe beef farms in order to relax the cows

Kobe beef_Yabu_japan_Top things to do_Culinary specialitiesYoung Tajima cow in Yabu in Hyogo prefecture


What Kobe beef really is :

  • Wagyu (和牛) means “japanese beef” in japanese. Before receiving its very famous title, a “kobe beef” is part of the Wagyu family, of the “Tajima” breed and it comes from “Hyogo” prefecture. What makes it a real kobe beef on top of its origin is the percentage of fat in its muscles. Wagyu and kobe beef are not competitors but one is a “subsection” of the other. In other words, every Kobe beef are wagyu but not every Wagyu can be called Kobe beef !
  • Kobe beef has a very high percentage of fat in its muscles. This makes its meat extremly tender, meltingly soft and very tasty. But this sensation of fat on the tongue is not a nice thing for everyone. This would make me say that calling Kobe beef “the best meat of the world” depends on who’s eating it.
  • Kobe beef is not massaged everyday and its entire life with Sake. However, we’ve been told that some farmers, sometimes, massage their beef just before going to the slaughterhouse to avoid the effect of stress on the meat.
  • Kobe beef does not drink beer all day long. The beef eats hay, corn and tofu leftovers from the big companies in town.
  • Kobe beef doesn’t listen to Mozart… or any kind of music. It lives in a quite small pen (but clean and in good shape if you take the ones we saw in Yabu) in order to avoid movments and muscles to grow instead of fat. It lives in its pen with its mother until 1 and move to a “private” pen until 2. At 2 years old, it’s old enough for slaughterhouse where it will become a real Kobe beef.

Kobe beef_Yabu_Discovery_culinary trip_Top things to do_Japan_Lunch time  ! Today, it’s tofu.

Kobe beef tasting

I tried 3 parts of the beef :

  • Round steack (Basic steack, low fat, low meat quality)
  • Rumpsteack (low to middle meat quality)
  • Sirloin (Just behind the filet, high meat quality)

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From left to right – Rumpsteack , Round steack

wagyu_kobe beef_kobe_japan_top things to do_sirloin_wazawa_hankyu_sannomiyaSirloin

Nothing much to say about the two first pieces of meat. If you indeed compare it to the “non” kobe beef meat, it was more tender and rather tasty for the Rumpsteack but not such an amazing experience.

But now, the sirloin… I have to admit that I was rather sceptical about all this kobe beef experience, its price and the marketing around it. I’m part of these guys who want to become a conscious and mindful eater which made me “not really in favor” of kobe beef. BUT, if you really are a meat eater and you like fat and meltingly soft type of meat, you might definitely think, like I do, that Kobe beef really is the deal. It wakes your taste buds up, it shakes your senses, it’s soft, tender, juicy, in one word : it’s awesomly good (can i say that ?!?) ! It’s like a full power orgasm for your taste buds. In the end, despite the excess of capitalism around this Kobe beef, once in your life I would say “YES”, try it !

But if you go for it, you’ll have to be prepared for the 12 500 yen (102 euros / 113 dollars) for a piece of Rib Eye steack of 180 g (14 600 yen – 119,13 euros – 132 dollars for a 170 g of sirloin or 15 800 yen – 128,92 euros – 143 dollars for a 130 g of filet)  because round steack and rumpsteack (5 500 et 6 900 yen) are not worth it, you might prefer a good “charolais entrecôte” at this price.