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Can you buy Kobe beef?

I have seen it in a few restaurants....is 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. :)

              2. As an FYI, when my wife and I were at the Waldorf in NYC this summer they had a new hybrid beef on the menu...the name escapes me it was something like washugyu (a cross between Washinton the state and Wagyu beef). The chef admited to us is it was overrated and overpriced, but it represents at least one attempt to create an American Wagyu cross breed. I have never been impressed with Kobe style Beef with the exception of at Social House in Vegas whre it appears on the sushi menu. I have no idea if was real Kobe, Kobe style or some such thing, but raw it was fabulous.

                3 Replies
                1. re: foodiesnorth

                  I have only had Wagyu beef once, that was in Sonoma, it was incredible, there was a big difference for us. I am sure that the preparation helped it was a rib eye, trimmed to about 2.5 oz and done in a wellington. It was like butter! Amazing, I dream about it still.

                  1. re: cleopatra999


                    I too have it on occasion at restaurants in Edmonton.

                    I will not get into the "fake Wagyu", "American Wagyu" "Kobe" debate as Yen and Mawson Plan and in particular the website link that latter inserted into his/her Sep 27 post have amply dealt with it.

                    I know the beef I ate did not come from Kobe, Japan. It likely came from the rancher near Camrose that Dan G mentioned or from Snake River, Idaho whose products I did see in Urban Fair during the relatively short period it was in the Crestwood Shopping Centre here in Edmonton.

                    I always assume that anything called "Kobe" is in fact North American raised Wagyu or Wagyu/Black Angus as otherwise the prices would be astronomical.

                    Sonny Song when he spent more time at the downtown location of Sorrentino's had it occasionally. I had a New York strip which was very good. Was it "out of this world"? Not particularly. I will have to get to Sage some evening to try their "prime".

                    The "best" version I have enjoyed was a capaccio. It was like eating "butter". For others that "texture" may be off-putting I just looke dup at your last post and saw your reference to the "wellington" so you know exactly what I mean.

                    1. re: cleopatra999


                      If the ribeye was trimmed to 3 oz, it's usually a "heart" cut out of the eye of the ribeye . This is the same cut that they use in the Delmonico-cut ribeye. Just FYI - in case you ever see it on another menu and wanted to see if it was the beef, or the cut! :) I've seen Delmonico cut ribeye at Sage before.

                  2. I believe this type of beef is not really intented or be eaten raw or even rare. If eaten at least mediem rare the fat has a chance to activate and make the meat incredibly tender and flavorful.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: tdeane

                      I have had it many times as a tataki/carpaccio at various izakaya here. Hapa makes a good one. Because it is sliced paper thin, the beef is very tender.

                      I believe the typical preparation method is: sear lightly, then freeze briefly to simplify slicing, then slice on a deli slicer or knife, let it come up to room temp prior to serving.

                      1. re: fmed

                        I understand the technique, I just think it is the wrong way to serve that kind of beef as you don't really get to enjoy it at it's best. It has too much fat to serve that way. It's at it's best when that fat breaks down and you get the full flavor and tenderness.

                        1. re: tdeane

                          I don't agree...we have had kobe/kobe style (very well marbled) at some very good restaurants. My favourite presentation was "sushi" at Social House in Vegas. I have had it otherwise (as a taktaki and carpaccio) and it is wonderful. Slightly chilled, it is the best in all three presentations. Very thin and at just cool, the fat mels, but in your mouth.

                          1. re: foodiesnorth

                            I'm with tdeane. I usually like medium rare meat, but the wagyu I bought/cooked/ordered/ate in Japan was better (the best beef I've ever eaten) when the red was cooked out of it. From what I saw in Japan beef of this quality is usually cooked either in broth or on a fire or hot stone. I know Vegas has some good places to eat but I'm standing by my take that even really good North American chefs don't quite know what wagyu is or how to cook it.

                            1. re: Mawson Plan

                              In Japan, I've had it as both sushi and a steak at the same meal. I do like a
                              it better as a good steak, I have to admit.

                              1. re: Mawson Plan

                                Would it help my poition for you to know all the cooks at Social House are Japanese trained sushi chefs? We always sit at the sushi bar and talk to them. I don't think they are North American in any sense other than geographic :-)

                                1. re: foodiesnorth

                                  I guess the thing that I don't agree with is the assertion that Kobe Beef is not intended to be eaten raw. It's done in Japan and it's done here....so it's fair game and all good :-)

                      2. Why would you want to?

                        If you are looking for the very best prime rib, go to Smuggler's on south Macleod Trail in Calgary. I have travelled through many parts of the Globe and have never had a better cut than at Smuggler's.

                        1. If you come to vancouver there is a small japaneese butcher behind the sherman williams paint store at bridgeport and simpson in richmond they sell the real deal there.

                          driving east on bridgeport it is before simpson just after rail way tracks you can turn on simpson buth then you need to turn west and it is in the cult desac there.
                          sorry i cant think of the name or address

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ikko

                            That's Nikuya Meats in Richmond.

                          2. For those who buy Wagu/Kobe. What is the best way to cook them at home? Do you make them the same way as a good steak?

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: gourmet wife

                              Carpaccio! (Sear, freeze briefly, slice thinly, then let it come up to room temp). Serve with bitter greens and an oil, lime and soy dressing.

                              Doing them like a premium steak is nice too.

                              1. re: fmed

                                I would strongly disagree. Carpaccio is better done with a leaner piece of meat and eating Kobe beef this way does not let you enjoy it at it's best. You want to cook the meat and get all that fat melting, making the meat so tender and juicy. At least to medium rare.

                                1. re: tdeane

                                  As long as you don't melt away all that beautiful fat it's all good. The high level of mono-unsaturated fat in Kobe/Wagyu (about 70%) means it starts to melt to a butter-like consistency above 7 C. So at room temperature, the fat is already melting. A bit of Maillard reaction from searing and it becomes pure deliciousness.

                                  I think it's all a preference, but the awareness about its fat content (which is why I personally like it) will dictate how best to maximize it. Some people like that fatty buttery texture (like me) and some people prefer a more melted-out texture (like in steak - which I also like).

                                  In Japan, the most common way I have seen it done is as a tableside tataki on a charcoal brazier. Sliced, quickly seared then served. It is unctuous like foie gras....with just enough melted fat to balance out the more buttery fat.

                                  If you are cooking it like a steak...use a pan and not a grill to keep the fat. It will flare up wildly on a grill.

                                2. re: fmed

                                  Thanks for the suggestion. I'll see how fatty the meat is before I turn it into carpaccio. When I was in HK in the fall, we had some kobe seared quickly and served, it was very tasty but extremely rich and I couldn't have more than one piece. On a separate occasion at my cousin's place he cooked it like a steak and it was oh so divine !! =) Speaking of fois gras, maybe we should include that with our kobe night hahahah =)

                                  1. re: gourmet wife

                                    I just wanted to say the our kobe rib eye steaks ROCKED !!!! It was so tasty and just so heavenly with every bite. Be prepare to pay if you decide to purchase the steak version. Hubs almost had a heart attack when he paid. We knew it would be expensive but holy batman was it ever. After the meal hubs said that it was well worth it and I agree =)

                              2. Well I might as well help as a former edmonton resident. Cost Canada in now selling Kobe Style beef online. I am sure they will ship it Edmonton. The price looks reasonable compared to what I have seen here in Toronto