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Feb 22, 2008 09:25 PM

Can you buy Kobe beef?

I have seen it in a few there anywhere that I can purchase kobe beef to cook myself (in Alberta, especially Edmonton)? I cannot justify spending $60+ for a steak, but getting it for home, should be a lot more reasonable.

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  1. Cleo,

    We arent actually able to buy real Kobe beef here - what you see on restaurant menus is "Kobe-Style beef" - which comes from the same breed (Wagyu) as the cows that comprise "Kobe beef." The other two components (diet, and handling) arent the same as the way they handle these cows in Japan.

    Wagyu served in Alberta is usually either Alberta raised, or US raised. In my opinion, it isnt worth the price. Good quality triple A (like say the Sterling Program) or Canadian Prime i actually like better.

    If you insist on wanting to try Wagyu Beef, i believe there are a few butchers in town that carry it. Call around and ask.

    One interesting note is that Kobe beef won the annual beef competition in Japan in the early 90's. Since then, it has been surpassed by a variety of districts that produce superior beef (Mie District, for example, has produced several winners over the past 10 years - like Matsusaka beef) to Kobe. Kobe is more marketing name than actual beef from Kobe these days.

    1. I know you're posting from Canada, but I might point out that in the United States, US beef from the genetic cousins of Kobe cattle may be sold as Kobe (not Kobe-style, just Kobe). If you can get your hands on the real deal, be sure it is, in fact, the real deal.

      SIDEBAR: When was the ban lifted on sales to the US? I thought the ban was still on but after researching to respond to this, I now believe it IS available.

      3 Replies
      1. re: NYChristopher

        I believe January 2007. But don't quote me on that.

        As for the "real deal" - i guess it's a matter of opinion. Genetic cousins is one thing - handling and diet another. I've had US Kobe beef, and let me tell you, it is *nothing* like the beef i had in Japan. It's good beef in it's own right - i just wouldnt call it Kobe beef, no matter what the marketers say.

        But it's good to know that you are allowed to market US Wagyu as Kobe Beef.

        1. re: yen

          hmmmm.....interesting. So yen...if I wanted to try the best of beef that Alberta has to offer, where would you suggest buying it?

          1. re: cleopatra999

            There was a discussion about this a year ago, and no one really had an answer. Canada Prime is, in theory, the best available sourceable product. But it's really only sold to restaurants because of a limited supply. I havent been able to find any place that sells it. The only way I've found to get it is to have a friend in the restaurant industry and get them to order it for you!

            The reason i say sourceable is because a lot of good steak places (if that's what you're trying to emulate) handle or process their steak after they get it. Dry aging, for example, increases flavour. This will make it even more difficult to emulate, unless you wish to start trying to dry age your meat as well :)

            I'd suggest trying a few butchers and seeing if any of them dry age their beef. They'd likely use a AAA, but my guess is the aging probably contributes more to the overall flavour than using prime would. One study i read found negligible returns in flavour after 28-30 days, other than a massive loss in volume, so don't pay an exhorbitant amount for anything dry aged over that period of time. Just a warning though, it won't be cheap. Dry aging creates a lot of shrinkage and rot, you're paying for the processing and for how much initial product was required to produced the dry aged meat.

      2. There is a farm in Camrose Alberta that raises wagyu cattle. Google Wagyu Canada and you should find them. They would be able to tell you where they sell their meat.

        1. I just did some googling and found this-

          Looks like you can buy real wagyu (from Japan) in Richmond so I'm sure you could get it in Calgary too, but I don't know where. That link has a great explanation of wagyu.

          There are lots of places in New York with wagyu on the menu, but I think it's a bit of a scam. The one place I tried it was WD-50 (I think) and it was definitely not wagyu- and it was very expensive. It tasted like chewy North American beef to me.

          I found Japanese beef so drastically better than North American beef that I am surprised that more places don't sell it.

          If you do get your hands on some wagyu don't expect to just cook cook it like a steak. It may also be already sliced when you buy it. You can do shabu shabu, or just cook it on a hot surface and dip it into a sauce.

          They sell what seems like real wagyu at Hapa in Kitsilano. Is there any restaurant in Calgary that sells (or claims to sell) wagyu?

          5 Replies
          1. re: Mawson Plan

            I frequent the Nikuya at their Hastings St and Renfrew location here in Vancouver (which is oddly not listed on their website). You can get real wagyu, Aussie wagyu, and American wagyu there. They will ship it to anywhere in Canada - but with some quantity and timing restrictions.

            1. re: fmed

              the hastings location closed down last month

              1. re: vandan

                That explains it. I now have to drive to Richmond....agh.

                1. re: fmed

                  there is a restaurant up in Edmonton called Sage Bistro (great steakhouse) that has 'Kobe' beef, not sure of authenticity, have not tried it.

                  1. re: cleopatra999

                    I guess it could be something that people get away with calling American Kobe, which they then falsely (in my opinion) classify as Wagyu. It is guaranteed to not be from Kobe though and is not what people want when they are paying so much to try Kobe beef.

          2. I thought they were selling kobe beef at the trendy market in Yaletown. If I remember the name, I'll post it.

            6 Replies
              1. re: foodsnobz

                This is from the Nikuya website (and is confirmed elsewhere):" "Kobe Beef" is a brand of Wagyu Beef that is produced from cattle that is raised and slaughtered in Hyogo Prefecture where Kobe is the largest city. Technically speaking, only Kobe Beef raised and slaughtered in Hyogo Prefecture can be called “Kobe Beef” but currently there are no meat packing plants in Hyogo Prefecture that are eligible to export their beef overseas."

                In other words "No!" Kobe beef is not for sale at urban fare. Maybe this 'American Kobe' fake wagyu is for sale- but not Kobe beef. It's possible that they are importing stuff that is better than kobe, but I doubt that's what thy are selling or they would probably try to market it as what it actually is. You will be able to tell in part by how fatty it is. It should mostly white with bits of red in it. I think that misconceptions about Kobe beef have robbed a lot of hounds of good money and denied them a chance to taste how remarkable wagyu really is.

                1. re: Mawson Plan

                  MP - thanks for the great link to the Nikuya website. Im excited at the possibility of getting real A5 here - including Matsuzaka beef!

                  As for your term "fake wagyu" - i'd just like to point out wagyu is a breed of cow, so technically, American Wagyu, Alberta Wagyu isnt fake - it just isnt what, as you've pointed out, the consumer is looking for when they hear the words "Kobe Beef"

                  1. re: yen

                    Wikipedia might not always be accurate, but here's something from them: "Wagyu (和牛 wagyū) refers to several breeds of cattle genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat,".

                    From my understanding these cows are only in Japan and wagyu literally translates to 'Japanese Cow'. So wagyu applies to many breeds of Japanese cows, but in my mind not the hybrid part Japanese cow North American breeds. In my opinion wagyu is only Japanese beef. From my experience eating what is sometimes called wagyu here, and the 'real' stuff in Japan- the 'real' wagyu is way better. I would still call North American hybrids 'fake' wagyu.

                    1. re: Mawson Plan

                      Im not disputing your assertion that the North American Wagyu tastes different, and is in no way competitive with the Wagyu bred in Japan, but Wagyu is a breed, it has nothing to do with geography. A human being in Japan is the same as a human being in Canada. It's like saying Canadian-rasied Galloway Beef, because it is not from Galloway, is fake Galloway Beef.

                      At the end of the day, i understand it's a sensitive issue for many people in the cattle industry, as the question of genetics, pure bred, quality of genetic stock, and a variety of other factors come into question. I guess we'll just agree to disagree. To me, quality is a whole different equation - not part of what makes a breed real or fake. Even though a lot of crossbreeding has taken place with the Wagyu breed, they've managed to get most cattle stocks up to what is essentially pure-bred status, That's enough for me.

                      1. re: yen

                        Ok. Maybe we'll talk it out over a plate of wagyu some time. I live near Commercial right now. :)