What is Japanese Wagyu Beef?

What is Japanese Wagyu Beef?

Not all cattle can be named Japanese Wagyu Beef.

Japan has strict standards for Wagyu Beef. It is divided into four major Japanese Cattle breeds:

  1. Japanese Black (Kuroge Washu)

  2. Japanese Brown (Akage Washu)

  3. Japanese Shorthorn (Nihon Tankaku Washu)

  4. Japanese Polled (Mukaku Washu)

And must meet the three elements of pedigree, place of production and grade.

japanese wagyu breeds

First of all, the pedigree is pure and must be one of the four varieties of black, brown, shorthorn, and polled. Secondly, it was grown in Japan and raised for more than 30 months. Finally, the level of professional evaluation, the rating agency evaluates the quality of beef (Grading), only qualified can be called Wagyu.

However, the quality of Japanese Wagyu Beef varies among the four major varieties.

Kuroge Wagyu (Japanese Black)

The breeding range is the widest, the lean meat is evenly mixed with fine fat, showing a marbled pattern, and it melts in the mouth.

japanese black cattle

Akage Wagyu (Japanese Brown)

Farmed in Kumamoto and Kochi prefectures, the fat content is less than 12%, and it has a firm, chewy texture.

japanese brown cattle

Shorthorn Wagyu (Nihon Tankaku Washu)

It is cultivated in the northeastern region of Japan. It has low fat content and rich lean meat. The meat has a unique flavor.

japanese shorthorn cattle

Polled Wagyu (Mukaku Washu)

Farmed in Japan, it has high lean meat content, rich in amino acids, mellow meat, chewy and special taste.

japanese polled cattle

What kind of Wagyu is considered top class?

The limitation of cattle breed and production area is just the beginning. If it wants to become an excellent wagyu beef, there are more stringent standards waiting for beef-the hierarchical system.

Japan has a strict grading system for Wagyu. There are special graders to grade beef. Only beef that is deemed qualified by the rating can be called Wagyu.

The grade of Japanese Wagyu beef consists of two parts, the Yield grade and the meat Quality grade.

"Yield grade" (Yield grade), that is, the meat production rate of beef, is divided into three grades AC, A is good and C is poor.

"Meat quality grade" (quality grade) also includes four indicators: fat mass, meat color, meat firmness, and fat color. Each indicator is divided into 5 levels.

wagyu quality grading chart

After a combination of the Yield grade and the meat Quality grade, the lowest grade of Japanese Wagyu is C1 and the highest grade is A5 Wagyu Beef.

The Japanese gave it a wonderful name -- Frost's Descent (The Marbling). Frost's descent is the most obvious characteristics of the top and cattle, the better and cattle, frost's descent is more average density is better, lean meat color pink to bright red is the best, fat white is better.

Frost's descent is actually red muscle tissue with a low melting point of snowflake fat. Top grade wagyu marble fat content of up to 20 to 25 percent, and its fat melting point is lower than the average cow, human skin temperature can let it melt immediately, so the wagyu cow "mouth melts", really is not exaggerated.


Kobe Beef - The most famous Wagyu

Kobe Beef is produced in Kansai Hyogo prefecture and needs to meet multiple conditions such as “a distinguished family of pure blood”, “virgin cow”, and “meat quality graded A4 or higher” in order to be called Kobe Beef.

Kobe Beef is very particular about the feed. It does not eat fresh grass, and only eats dry pasture mixed with soybeans, corn, and wheat. Therefore, the fat of Kobe Beef is evenly distributed, just like texture of marbling. Kobe Beef has a soft and tender taste and melts in the mouth. It is suitable for cooking methods such as sashimi and grill.

kobe beef

Matsusaka Beef, a work of art.

Matsusaka beef has the reputation of "the art of meat" and is the top and most expensive brand of wagyu beef. In 2002, it sold a sky-high price of 50 million yen. Matsusaka beef does not refer to cattle produced in Matsusaka, but cattle of excellent bloodlines selected from Japan and raised in Matsusaka City, Mie Prefecture for three years.

Matsusaka beef grows in a luxurious environment: eating a feed mixed with barley, bean cake, and wheat bran; using shochu for body massage to even out fat; drinking beer for appetizers and listening to music to soothe the mood. (Some of them are rumors, like massage, drinking beer and listening classical music).

Matsusaka beef is fat and lean and melts in the mouth. A5 grade has a wonderful taste with a fat melting point of 62.6°F (17°C). It is suitable for Sukiyaki. Teppanyaki and Sashimi also have an unforgettable taste.

matsusaka beef

Omi Beef with a long history.

Omi cattle are Japanese Black and breeding cows raised in Shiga Prefecture. Daily drinking water from Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, feeds mainly with wheat and rice bran, and also drinks sweet wine made from glutinous rice to stimulate appetite.

Exquisite recipes and careful care have created a tender and sweet meat with fine and even snowflakes. The top-quality Omi beef melts in the mouth and is delicate and sweet, suitable for cooking methods such as Teppanyaki.

omi beef

Miyazaki-Gyu, won two times “Wagyu Olympic” championship in a row.

In the 2012 Wagyu Olympic, Miyazaki-Gyu won five best awards in one fell swoop, and won the "Prime Minister's Award" and the team's first outstanding achievement.

In the final auction session of the conference, the price of Miyazaki Wagyu reached a high price of 20.63 million yen (about 200,000 million USD), which is equivalent to $200 per pound.

Click here to check Out our Miyazaki-Gyu steaks.

Olive-Fed Wagyu, a new rising star.

Olive Fed Wagyu Beef was first introduced to the Japanese market in 2011 and quickly earned a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Most notably Olive Wagyu took home a special prize for fat quality at the 2017 Wagyu Onlympics. Olive Fed Wagyu was featured on Eater’s The Meat Show with meat expert Nick Solares. Solares stated that, “ While finishing cattle with olive lees is unique to Kagawa, the success of the process means that you shouldn’t be suprised to see it widely adopted in the future.”

olive fed wagyu