Japanese Kobe Beef: Worth the Hype?

Japanese Kobe Beef: Worth the Hype?

Emma Christensen
Sep 21, 2010

A lot of rumors were circulated a few years aback about this extra-special beef from Japan where the cattle are massaged daily and fed a steady diet of beer. Since then, we've seen kobe and kobe-style beef on the market and have had a chance to try it for ourselves. What do you think about this beef?

Let's get a few of our facts straight. Kobe beef comes from a particular breed called wagyu cattle, which are raised and slaughtered in the Kobe region of Japan. They were originally introduced to the region as work animals to aid in rice farming, but eventually became beef cattle as the consumption of beef in Japan increased. The isolated nature of the Kobe region led to minor changes in genetics and handling practices over the years, ultimately resulting in cattle with superior meat.

Are the cattle really fed beer? Yes, but a big reason for this is to stimulate appetite during the warm summer months. Massaging their muscles and brushing their coats with sake are also believed to ensure especially tender meat. (This information is according to the Further Reading - Japan Welcomes You: World Famous Kobe Beef">Japanese Travel Bureau)

Whether or not you believe these practices make any difference, the proof is in the beef. If any meat could be described as "pretty," this is it. The bright white fat marbled throughout makes a stark contrast to the deep and vibrant red of the muscle. The texture is soft and tender, and both the meat and the fat are highly flavorful.

There's no denying this is high-quality stuff and we've certainly enjoyed the kobe beef dishes we've had. We'd stop short of saying it's actually superior to all others, though. Kobe beef seems to be one in a category of excellent meats.

What do you think?

Related: What's the Deal with Truffles?

(Image: Flickr members Yogma and VirtualErn licensed under Creative Commons)

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