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Jan 19, 2008 02:32 PM

Getting Kobe beef flown in from Japan?

Is there a way to get real Kobe beef raised in Japan flown into the US via special order? If so, where? I've tried googling, but I keep getting results for American Wagyu and "Kobe-style, American-raised" beef. I would like to order the real thing from Japan for a special occasion.

Thank you!

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  1. Not that I know of. Love to hear if it can be. Several American producers are certified to sell Kobe beef in the USA under license from Japan. Wagyu is the type of cattle breed in Japan from which these producers say they have secured "genetic links". So, Kobe beef in America is also known as Wagyu beef, Kobe Wagyu or Kobe Beef. Am not sure if there is any difference between the Kobe beef that is consumed in Japan vs the USA. And I don't know if the cattle breed makes as much difference as the diet these cattle have and the massages they get!

    2 Replies
    1. re: scoopG

      Wagyu in the U.S. is a cross between Japanese cattle and Aberdeen Angus. This cross is better suited to our climate extremes, whereas the Kobe calf in Japan is raised mostly indoors, away from it's mother. That's another reason for the cross: Aberdeen Angus cows make better mothers.

      The cross breed in the U.S. is similar genetically to the Kobe in Japan in one more way: The black, polled Japanese cattle were not indigenous to Japan, but instead decended from Aberdeen Angus breeding stock sent from Scotland more than 200 years ago, around the same time the breed was sent to the U.S.

      1. re: scoopG

        The "massages" and the diet, it turns out, are largely myth and marketing. Kobe beef is basically a cross between veal and foie gras, according to a recent Gourmet article:

        I'll pass, thanks.

      2. The Nijiya chain of Japanese markets in California has Wagyu beef flown in from Japan for New Year's celebrations and you have to reserve in advance. The area where the cattle comes from wasn't specifically Kobe, but I don't know if it referred to a more general area that may or may not include Kobe.

        Not cheap. I think it was $70/lb for steaks and $80 and $90 per for thinner slices suitable for sukiyaki or shabu shabu.

          1. re: mpalmer6c

            Hmm, I wonder if it's really from Japan. I will investigate.

          2. You may, depending on where you live, be able to find it through a local supplier. Here's a link to a post on the NYC board with some good information and a cameo by ScoopG:

            I am by no means an expert, but I have heard that kobe beef production is better regulated and supervised than wagyu beef production. Even if the official method of raising is the same, actual implementation of the method is supposedly better in Japan. (Of course this information comes from biased sources -- namely my homesick Japanese friends.)

            1. I was just at the International Restaurant food show at the Javits Center and there was a company flying in Kobe beef from Japan. They tell me it is available at the Mitsu Market (sp?) in Edison NJ (formerly Yaohan). btw the small taste they gave me was AMAZINGGGGGGGG!