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Jul 24, 2003 03:13 PM

Kobe Beef Burgers: Any Reason Not Idiotic?

  • j

I fully admit I may be ignorant/naive about this, having never eaten Kobe beef in any form.

But I'm wondering: can anyone make a case for me that a Kobe hamburger (super trendy right now all over the country, judging by our forums) isn't an idiotic idea, in light of the fact that much of the value of kobe beef is textural? It seems to me that a burger is to great beef as fondue is to great stilton (spritzers to great wine?). Am I wrong? Can any discerning hounds out there, who are well-versed in matters Kobe, tell me that a Kobe burger is conceivably worth the premium and NOT a vulgar culinary blasphemy?

Also, I suspect a whole lot of regular beef is already being served as Kobe (I can't count the number of times this year I've ordered saffron rice and been served saffronless yellow rice). In steak form, the discerning might know. In burgers, one can't possibly know (or can one?).

And if, per my theory, above, the very notion of Kobe burgers is for vulgar rubes, chefs must take extra delight in charging them up their trend-mongering wazoos for same-old burgers (perhaps goosed somehow - extra tallow? - for je ne sais quoi).

Or am i wrong, and a Kobe burger is a fine thing, and rarely viewed by kitchens as a fraud jackpot opportunity?

Restaurant biz insiders who'd like to post under alias, feel free; just please don't name restaurant names (for legal reasons) if you're discussing fraud.


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  1. Jim,

    I would go a bit further. You don't use filet mignon in burgers because it is, compared to chuck, less tasty (sometimes even fairly tasteless) and mushy (precisely because of its vaunted tenderness -- and mushy burgers are gross). I would think Kobe beef would be in a similar category from all that one reads about. In other words, it sounds like the wrong king of meat for the purpose of a burger.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Karl S.

      The reason that a burger made of chuck tastes better than one made with filet mignon is because of chuck's higher fat content (filet has little marbeling). Fat provides flavor. Hence, a Kobe burger would have supreme flavor because Kobe has supreme marbeling? I think not. I think that there's a fat threshold beyond which you wind up with just a fatty, greasy hamburger...of which I've eaten my share.

      1. re: TomSwift

        And fatty, greasy hamburgers have an very important place in the Chow pantheon, especially when topped with melted cheese and served up alongside a heap of fries and a tall Coke with lots of ice: there is no finer hangover cure.

        1. re: GG Mora

          I agree completely, but would amend Coke to ice cold draft, and add a slab of red onion.

    2. I've had Kobe beef on one of my business trips to Japan. It was part of a dish called "shabu-shabu" (see the link below). The cooking method (boiling) didn't sound very promising but the tenderness of the beef combined with some excellent dipping sauces made it very tasty.

      My Japanese hosts took great pleasure in telling me that the cattle destined to become Kobe beef were raised in deluxe barns and were fed beer while listening to classical music. I answered that 'that didn't sound like a bad life at all' and we all had a good laugh.

      In America it sounds like the laugh is on us as the Kobe burger is the latest in a string of "deluxe" products foisted on a jaded and gullible public. They'll be mixing gold flecks into the burgers any day now.


      1. I'm hardly an expert..having tasted kobe for only the 3rd time last night. First, It's "kobe style" or waygu (see below).

        A burger would seem like a waste of the beef..sort of defeating the purpose of the great texture. I've read of waygu being used for steak tartare..but haven't tried it myself..might be ok.

        As I wrote below, I think this beef should be heated only minimally...maybe a super, super, rare burger would be ok.

        1. Weak teeth?

          1. Kobe beef burger sounds stupid, but kind of makes me want to try.