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Apr 27, 2009 09:29 AM

Charlie's Burgers - 4/26/09 Post Mortem


3 things stood out the most for me.

(1) The Venue. Held in a wonderland of a loft containing ghoulish tribal artifacts from all over the world. Cannot think of a more dramatic place to have a meal. And Bill (the owner of the house and art-dealer) is a great host. The venue won over the crowd before they even had a drink.

(2) The Oysters. I’m a purist. Usually, I don’t like anything in my oysters. No horseradish, no Tabasco, no cocktail sauce - nothing. The farthest I’ll go is to squeeze in a bit of lemon. But the ones I had yesterday were great.

(3) The Braised Kobe Beef Cheeks. You could’ve eaten it with a spoon – it was that tender. And the braising liquid, with those Asian aromatics… it made it seem light. Amazing.
Usually braised beef brings to mind little tiny pearl onions, red wine, squat French grandmas and that post-meal sleepy/heavy feeling. I like all that, but this dish was the polar opposite.

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      1. The food was fantastic. Everything was very, very good - but I listed my 2 favorite items above.

        You'll find the menu here.

        I recommend the experience to all. It's the dinner party of your dreams. Charlie promised an anti-restaurant and delivered beyond my wildest expectations. The combination of the setting, the crowd, the food and the drinks (especially the wine) made it a night I'll remember for a long time. Six hours flew by.

        1. re: BeirutEmigre

          I'm not quite as convinced!
          I find the whole thing a little 'precious' - my experiences with Le Petit Castor have soured me a little on the concept.
          However, if you enjoyed it - great. I'd love to know where they obtained Kobe beef - it hasn't been available in Toronto for over 5 years (to my knowledge)! Of course it's advertized at many locations.
          And you can eat regular old bef cheeks with a spoon too.

          1. re: estufarian

            I'm assuming it was just North American wagyu. A real Kobe beef striploin of any reasonable size would probably cost $150 or more anyways.

            1. re: tjr

              i believe Barbarion's had certified Kobe for Japan last Nov... it was $150 each or $259 for two people.

              1. re: ttran88

                FYI, Barbarian served 'Kagoshima Wagyu Beef' NOT 'Kobe Wagyu beef'
                I like to use tissue paper as an analogy. Whilst Kleenex is tissue paper however not all tissue paper is Kleenex!
                BTW, even in Japan, the two rarest cut/part of wagyu beef are the beef cheeks and the oxtail. As such I doubt the beef cheeks used for the CB dinner were actually from Japan let alone from Kobe.

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  This is correct on both counts. The less of the part per animal, the more rare it is going to be! While beef cheeks are not the most expensive part of the cow, I can guarantee that serving a strip and cheeks from a cow from Kobe is going to be insanely expensive, especially since it would be something they would have ordered from Japan exclusively for this event as nowhere else here serves them ever. For $150, they'd be losing quite a bit of money on the beef alone!

                  1. re: tjr

                    Forgive my ignorance. I'm no expert on the different varieties of Kobe beef, but I know Chef Vicor DeGuzman is a reputable individual who works for a reputable establishment (Langdon Hall in Collingwood.) He and the waiters told us that it was 'real' Kobe beef that had been ordered from Japan one month prior to the meal. I doubt they would have gone out of their way to make this claim unless it was the real deal.

                    Also, I think it's important to mention that the prices you are listing are based on the markups that individuals would typically pay in restaurants. This dinner party was hosted by a kind individual in his home and there was no cost overhead to pay restaurant rent. I doubt any of the staff, host or chefs made any profit. The whole point of this dinner event is to create a positive space for people who love food. It's done as a labour of love and not a money-making scheme.

                    The meal also included mature duck eggs with baby ducks inside that were shipped from the Philippines. I think the chef placed a bulk order for these delicacies using his connections from the culinary world.

                    I believe everything we ate was the real deal.

                    I'll be posting more pictures of the food coming up in the next couple of days if you care to visit:

                    1. re: jessbennett

                      Since the moderators have reinstated this thread, here are some excerpts from my blog post today:

                      After those heated dialogues on Chowhound regarding the authenticity of the Kobe beef served at Charlie’s Burger’s, I decided to leave the whole issue alone. But then I received an email from Chef De Guzman this morning…

                      For those of you who weren’t following the dialogue, someone who had attended the dinner created this thread on Chowhound talking about how awesome the experience had been at De Guzman’s dinner. Chowhound people started to write comments saying there was no way the Kobe was real and it was Wagu from Chinatown, et cetera, et cetera. They even accused me of posting under two different identities. (I did not.)

                      A little bit of the dialogue spilled over onto my previous blog post reviewing Charlie’s Burgers if you care to scroll down to read the comments.

                      Anyway, so I received this e-mail today from the charming and earnest Chef De Guzman thanking me for my blog post and appreciating that I had enjoyed the experience. His email was so sweet and so genuine. At one point, he wrote:

                      “If I were to expire right after my last supper, I'd love to be remembered for my sincerity. My goal that evening was to make sure that all my 36 guests were happy and also the people who were involved with the collaboration of this dinner ... Charlie and his awesome staff and my kitchen team. We did it for fun and for a culinary adventure. My goal for my kitchen staff is for them to learn something new, whether it's about cooking or learning how to work under pressure and have fun at the same time. Unquestionably, cooking for Susur Lee and 35 foodies is priceless and unforgettable.”

                      He continues on to mention reading the comments about the Kobe Beef and reaffirms that it was real and he has the Japanese Kobe Certificate in his office with the stamp from the Japanese Ministry of Health. He even quoted the certificate number for me:

                      # JPN-CA08017

                      De Guzman promised he would not disclose the supplier, but Enzo Spigarelli from The Butcher Shoppe, his good friend, can source the real Kobe deal if buyers are interested. They have to buy the whole box though; you can’t get 10 oz of Kobe. This is why it lends itself more suitably to a dinner party of 35 people, like Charlie’s Burgers. After De Guzman contacted me, I also received an email from Charlie himself, confirming that the beef was certainly “Kobe priced.”

                      De Guzman's email continues on to discuss his intention in participating in the underground dinner:

                      "… my menu was not designed for profit, but to make people happy. It is a chef's dream to cook anything rules, no special dietary restrictions, no 33% food cost and no labor cost at the perfect venue for the perfect guests. For me, that is genuine pleasure. It would be heart-breaking for me if one of my guests went home unhappy and feeling duped."

                      I’ve been thinking about why people have such a difficult time believing the Kobe beef was real and I’ve decided that it’s the same reason why people might not understand Charlie Burger’s in general.

                      1. re: jessbennett

                        That would explain the jump in price. Clearly, not profit-taking.

                        1. re: jessbennett

                          People have questioned because there is once a thread from the Toronto famous Barberian Steak House who specialize in beef claiming they have real Kobe beef, there is even a certificate attached in the post. However, the certificate actually indicates that it is not Kobe but Kagoshima beef if you read it correctly ! I am not sure if they do not know how to read it or what. If you have a certificate with number JA-Ca12345, it does not mean it is real kobe beef if you do not know how to read it correctly. You can still search for the thread if you want to see it.

                          1. re: jessbennett


                            I think the point some people trying to make is this......If it was A5 Kobe, at the prices they charged, they would've lost money, no doubt about it. Sure, I appreciate their efforts, that their motives are not fueled by profit. Yet I doubt they're in the market to take losses for their work.

                            I wasn't there so I can't really comment. I can only guess the kobe they used was of a lower grade, and thus more manageable cost wise considering the price point of the dinner. It doesn't mean the meat was bad, just not what others on here are associating when the term "Kobe" is used.

                            This is a site for food nerds, people will be sticklers about these things. I know I fall into this trap at times.

                            1. re: jessbennett

                              The Japanese Ministry of Health issues certificates to ALL Wagyu ( Japan raised ) beef/cattle. Be it Kobe, Mashima, Ohim...etc. Unless one sees the entire certificate and dicipher the Japanese characters, a certificate number is not sufficient to determine the breed of the Wagyu beef, be it Black, Brown, Polled, Shorthorn or Kumamoto red.. Kobe is the most famous of 'Black' Wagyu.

                              In more detail: 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 beef raised and slaughtered in Hyogo prefecture can be called Kobe beef. As of 2008, there are NO meat packing plant in Hyogo Prefecture that are ELIGIBLE TO EXPORT THE BEEF OVERSEAS! As such, real Kobe beef can only be available domestically in Japan! The beef served during the CB dinner can only be 'Kobe STYLE Wagyu beef' and NOT THE REAL DEAL!!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                As such, real Kobe beef can only be "legally" available domestically in Japan... but an underground dinner.. may not care about the legality :-) I know a lot of travellers who will put just about anything in their suitcase to make a buck...

                                1. re: OnDaGo

                                  I think it's basically been said numerous times in this thread, and once again, skylineR33 and Charles_Yu have certainly brought the appropriate details forward. I don't have much else to say on the subject unless someone is going to produce an actual certificate that is appropriate for a Kobe (not "Kobe") product.

                                  We've heard it numerous times before, but no one has ever provided any reasonable proof.

                                  The pictures I saw sure as hell didn't look like Kobe; the meat looked even less marbled than the stuff they were carrying at Pusateri's, which was A5.

                                  1. re: OnDaGo

                                    With real Kobe beef selling in excess of US$250 per pound. I really doubt someone would risk smuggling almost US$10,000 worth of meat through Canadian custom just for an event like CB. Who would pay if the meat got confiscated? The chef or the organizer? BTW, the nose of those dogs in the airport are pretty sharp!!

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      I snuck some jerky from Macau back once, and what do you know one of those dogs got me.

                                      Luckily the jerky was well hidden and I flashed other food stuff to the customs agent (chips/chocolate), the decoy worked!

                                      Take that sniffer dog!

                                      1. re: aser

                                        Vacuum pack it! But yeah, that's about the story here. I'll believe it when I see a certificate proving the authenticity. Nearly everyone has lied about this anyways, but if the chef is really putting his name and reputation out on this one, it would be nice if he could scan it in to shut us up... I await the prefecture of origin!

                                        1. re: tjr

                                          Here! Here!
                                          Most probably from Kagoshima as skylineR33 eluded to.

                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                            Maybe it is really Kobe beef and I have no question that people enjoy their meal at CB entirely ... it just that I think we are all tired of hearing restaurants in Toronto claiming it is real Kobe beef all the time but they are not. In Japan, restaurant can go out of business or suspended because of wrongly labelled on the wagyu beef they offer !

                                            For reference, here is a picture of Kobe style A5 wagyu beef from Gunma prefecture Japan. I got it from Pusateri's one time. It is a piece of striploin, if it is tenderloin, there is less fat. They are all great beef, but A5 is just too much fat for my taste.

                                            1. re: skylineR33

                                              Hmmm. My legal training, as well as my BS detector, wonders if the discussion of certificate numbers might be ill-fated. When we eat, we should suspend disbelief to a certain extend and let life happen.

                                              1. re: Snarf

                                                FYI, real Kobe beef can be double of what the other wagyu beef is charged. If you are paying over $100 or 200 a piece of beef, you better know what you are eating.

                                                1. re: skylineR33

                                                  Exactly, and, again, in Japan, Kobe is pretty much a controlled designation of origin. One Michelin-starred restaurant was caught serving mislabeled beef and they had to close because their name was tainted (though the beef was not; it was just misrepresented).

                                                  If you're served A5 wagyu, you'll likely be happy with what you get, but if you're saying it's Kobe, it means something. If some chain restaurant is selling something labeled Kobe burgers for $9.99 on their menu, fine. This CB story is a bit different though, and if it was not, in fact, Kobe beef, then it just goes to show how little people actually care for truth in labeling. Kobe means nothing to most people in North America, and it seriously degrades the "brand."

                                                  If someone sold you Grana Padano as Reggiano, would you be okay with that? What if someone sold you an okay sparkling wine as a fine champagne? What if someone sold you canola oil as extra virgin olive oil?

                                                  I like knowing what I'm eating. We're sick of lies about Kobe beef, and we want to know the truth, that's all. What Charles_Yu and skylineR33 have been saying is entirely correct. One, the legality concerning the export of the beef, two, that a chef (or sous chef) is risking his reputation (and perhaps even the reputation of his establishment) on the veracity of his claim, which he doesn't seem to really want to back up. The first tip off was Itoham (a Japanese conglomerate specializing in hams and assorted cured meat products like sausages and hot dog-esque foods, which also runs packing and processing operations, etc.) used as if it were a marker indicating something like "Cumbrae" or "Cookstown" or whatever. The second was the price Itoham sells their product (Kobe beef) for wholesale. The third was the inclusion of Kobe beef cheeks (or perhaps this was unintentionally misleading, and the cheeks were from regular cattle). The fourth was the multiple pictures shown here which appear to have marbling that would barely even rival an American wagyu product.

                                                  Barberian's posted a scan of their certificate. It wasn't Kobe, and I believe after that point they no longer continued to advertise it as Kobe beef (though I could be wrong). Might as well at least make us all look like idiots and produce the certificate clearly stating the origin of the beef. At best, they'll be heroes for having gone through hoops to get the beef and sold it for much less than it was worse, at the least they apologize for misleading customers.

                                              2. re: skylineR33

                                                how does the cattle move??? it is all fat...

                                                1. re: Pigurd

                                                  They are the four legged version of 'couch potatoes'! Doing nothing but listening to music, drinking beer and getting massages every day!

                                        2. re: Charles Yu

                                          In these postings, I've heard people saying it's impossible to import, can't be right etc. The two camps appear to be divided between those who went, and the incredulous, with the rest of us sitting on the side watching. Questions for both sides.

                                          For those who went, what was the size of portion per person?

                                          For those who decry, what are the sources for the arguments that it is not available for export, or that the certificate number refers to something else.

                                          In my quick and lazy google search, these questions weren't answered, and if anything, there appeared to be an effort underway to educate international markets.

                                          Reminds me of trying to get Cardigan Bay lobsters in my youth. They were only available for export, but you could always buy a pint for a fisherman and get a few.

                                    2. re: jessbennett

                                      I raised the issue of provenance - which seems to have taken over the thread - so permit me to try and reduce the boil to a simmer!
                                      First, if you (and other attendees) enjoyed the dinner - that's the most important point of all.
                                      However, if a 'reputable' chef mis-describes a dish then she is asking for trouble - we trust our 'providers' to accurately describe what we are getting. And if they are 'liberal' with the truth that's a reflection on them (not us). And (fortunately?) we have enthusiastic people on this site who help to keep 'everybody' honest. And also (perhaps) educate consumers.
                                      For example, you may genuinely say "This was the best meal of my life" (I'm using this as an example) and even those of us who seem to be questioning you should not disagree - but may ask for more details.
                                      If, however, you were to say, "The Kobe Beef was the best beef I've ever had" (also an example) then the chorus above (and below) would alert you to the possibility that you had great beef - but it wasn't Kobe. And you would, potentially, have learned that Beef Cheeks (not Kobe beef) are a dish you really like.
                                      I know I seem to have put words in your mouth (so to speak) but, I hope, you would have gained from the discussion.
                                      You do seem to have been passionate about this meal - that's great - even better that you made the effort to share this with us (and I hope you will continue).

                                      I felt that the Kobe point was significant (but not the only issue) e.g. the butter also seems to be a potential issue. As current regulations stand, I 'don't believe' that unpasteurized butter can legally be sold in Ontario (but it's certainly possible that it exists). And I wish it were available - however, existing rules are intended to prevent listeria outbreaks (irony!). Similarly, it is 'illegal to sell' uninspected meats - but, of course, hunters can always eat any meat they legally 'harvest'.
                                      In short, be aware of the risks! That means the risks should be openly acknowledged. Then, absolutely, make your own choice.
                                      As additional background, I have been served 'very' poisoned mushrooms by a chef that is 'revered' in Canadian food circles (an experience I never want to repeat). Indeed it was at a 'special dinner'. And involved 'field-gathered mushrooms'.
                                      So we're not just trying to 'slag' anyone - just ensure that ultimately, the consumer is aware of what is served.
                                      And, incidentally, I implicitly included the Butcher Shoppe in my 'not available for 5 years comment'. I have particular experience with them on a differnt product (butter) where their 'information' turned out to be 'capable of interpretation in more than one way'.
                                      Does it seem a little strange that you can potentially source Kobe Beef 'through a contact' when those of us who would willingly part with a wad of cash to try it have been unable to source this 'legally' for many years? Just musing!

                                      1. re: estufarian

                                        So youre telling me the 10 dollar Kobe Beef burger at the Brazen Head pub isn't real Kobe?

                                        In the event an inferior product was being passed off as the real deal it's interesting that of 36 ostensibly educated food lovers not one was able to spot the difference or ask some questions. Or perhaps they did and it's gone unmentioned.

                                        1. re: estufarian

                                          Scary that a revered chef fed you poisonous mushrooms. I hope you didn't suffer any sort of kidney failure.

                                          Maybe the chefs hosting special dinners and secret dining clubs should consider having patrons sign waivers. Brings a whole new meaning to adventurous palate.

                                          1. re: estufarian

                                            The poisonous mushroom incident sounds very intriguing! You probably do not want to divulge any more info, but I have to ask: are the chef's initials MS? Foraged mushrooms are certainly one of those things that you must be 150% sure of, especially when serving them to others!

                                            BTW, good post.

                                            1. re: redearth

                                              I wonder if it was MS. He's the featured chef at a dinner tonight at Globe Bistro. Anyone else going? I'll be there.

                                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                                You like those Globe dinners... and I trust your tastebuds...

                                                I must try one of those out, as being a West End Boy I have never made it out to the Globe as of yet.

                                                1. re: Non Doctor

                                                  The Globe winemaker's dinners are a real bargain for what you get. ($125 pp includes the dinner, wine and all taxes/gratuities) This dinner is not one of the winemaker's dinners so it costs quite a bit more. That's the main reason I didn't respond to the last CB dinner invite, I only have a fixed amount to spend on dinners out. But after reading about it here, I wish I was there and so does my wife. Tonight's dinner is $250 pp plus taxes, gratuities etc. but that's because it costs a lot to have MS show up.
                                                  You should try the next winemaker's dinner. As I've mentioned, we've been to every one of them and have had a great time at all. I'll post the next time one of the winemakers dinners is coming up, or you can subscribe to the Globe newsletter.

                                                2. re: foodyDudey

                                                  to stay on topic....serving mis-labelled kobe beef is bad, but who cares really?

                                                  Anyhow, the patio is open at Blobe. is it good?

                                                  1. re: grandgourmand

                                                    The patio at Globe is very nice. Much better in my opinion than the highly touted (for no reason I can figure out) patio at the nearby Allen's.

                                                    1. re: grandgourmand

                                                      Serious foodies do!
                                                      If you go to a restaurant and ask for a glass of vintage French Champagne and get served a glass of Canadian sparkling wine instead. Won't you be upset if you find out?

                                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                                        This begs the question: what if you never find out that you were served Canadian bubbly, and it was the best glass of "Champagne" you've ever had? Is ignorance truly bliss? How much does knowledge of a product contribute to one's experience of it? Food for thought...

                                                        1. re: redearth

                                                          This is all relative, one can say the best burger he/she has is at Macdonald. I think this has more to do with the person who serve you the glass of Canadian bubbly telling you are getting the vintage Champagne.

                                                          1. re: skylineR33

                                                            I fully understand that this is the issue at hand (full, honest disclosure of product details), but Charles' post just got me thinkin'....

                                                        2. re: Charles Yu

                                                          Have you ever been to a restaurant where they had Canadian sparkling listed under the champagne section of the wine list along with high end Italian Prosecco? did you call for the owner and complain that he was misleading the customers because Proseco and sparkling are not champagne? or is it really symantics? If the Charlie dinner served top Wagu imported from Japan that was ten miles from the border of the Kobe region do you think any one would really care if they called it Kobe except for a couple of old Japanese men on the other side of the world?

                                                          Charles yourself I am sure have invited people out for Chinese food when in reality you should have said Cantonese or Mandarin food? and I am sure some of these restaurants use ingredients that are not all imported.. Is an Asian Pear still not an Asian Pear if it is grown in California?

                                                          1. re: OnDaGo

                                                            I think you completely miss the point. Charles is saying when a person ask for a glass of expensive French Champagne but get served a glass of Canadian sparkling wine without being notified, not about the listing of wine in a wine list. One will not order the Canadian Sparkling wine when one wants a high end Italian Presecco because they are clearly shown in the wine list !

                                                            When you order an expensive bottle of wine, do restaurant show you the bottle with the label before opening it ?

                                                            And what 10 miles from the border of Kobe ??? Did CB ever give any details on this when some of us ask ? If it is Kagoshima for example, it is more than 500km away from Kobe.

                                                            If there is a hugh price different between Asian Pear and Asian Pear grown in California, do you want to know before you purchase the more expensive one ? Or you don't care ? If you ask the supplier, do you expect them at least give you the exact information on the origin of a product even if their price is almost the same ?

                                                            And why is it that complicated ? We just want to have more details on the Kobe Beef served at CB !! It is a very simple question, I guess.

                                                            And yes, chinese always specify what kind of chinese food we are going to eat whenever going to a restaurant, Cantonese, Szechuan, Shanghai... we never just say let's go to eat chinese food. Also, there is no such thing called Mandarin food in Chinese cuisine.

                                                            1. re: skylineR33

                                                              To be honest, I don't think the style of experience that CB sounds like it's going for should respond to a microscopic inquiry. You show up, you suspend disbelief, you enjoy yourself, and you leave yourself in the hands of the providers. Then everyone goes home to their various residences and venues.

                                                              Can anyone either track or dispute the certificate number given? Would anyone who actually attended care and ask for their money back?

                                                              I mean no offence to the food nerds/purists. I just question whether this is moving towards any factual determination.

                                                              1. re: Snarf

                                                                I don't want to suspend disbelief when I eat; it's not television, it's not a movie, it's not a piece of literature. It's food. There's a pretty big difference.

                                                                Might as well just serve buckets of gruel or something and tell everyone it's something else.

                                                                If it was legitimately Kobe beef, which wouldn't be shipped here, it wouldn't come with a certificate with any sort of Canadian identifiers. It's the same style of # as Barberian's beef, though we'd only really know for sure if the certificate was presented in its entirety, where it would actually list the origin of the product.

                                                                1. re: Snarf

                                                                  Ok if it is not moving towards any factual determination, it is just a question, no big deal. I just want to share what I have experienced with the so-called kobe beef in Toronto. All I know is there is no one in Toronto ever serve any Kobe beef, as no one up to this moment have any real support that they have real kobe beef, that's it. I have my Kobe beef in Japan, which presented with a certificate of 3 generations and a nose print. If no one from the dinner or elsewhere cares, good for them. I will never give out $150 for an experimental dinner for 6 hours long with a whole bunch of strangers, I make that very clear in some earlier CB thread.

                                                            2. re: Charles Yu

                                                              Are you implying I'm not a serious foodie?
                                                              I admitted the mis-labelling thing is bad. All I'm saying is that this discussion has gotten very tedious.

                                                        3. re: estufarian

                                                          If one has access to raw milk (not difficult when one lives in a rural area) it is a few simple steps away from being made into butter. It wouldn't be legal to serve in a restaurant, but in a private invite-only dinner setting the lines get a bit fuzzy don't they?

                                                          All I'll say is that it was bloody delicious.

                                                          1. re: Non Doctor

                                                            The butter would be simple to get, and I have no questions that it was represented accurately. The Kobe beef, though, is still an issue. Do you have anything on that one, Jamie?

                                                            For all of those saying, "Who cares," I'd care if I went to a dinner expecting Kobe beef, paying, and getting something that wasn't, especially when the apparent quality of the meat (from people who went) was not what they would have received had they had real Kobe beef.

                                                            The amount of strawmen being presented is ridiculous: this is not about people being upset because it's "just a name," or that the beef was from 10 feet from the border of Kobe. Brie de Meaux or a $6 brie from Loblaws? Krug or Yellowtail? Jamon Iberico de bellota or deli ham?

                                                            It's not just a matter of location, it's a product with a controlled, designated origin. If a pear was labeled "PRODUCT OF CANADA" and it was from China, you can bet people would be up in arms about it. It's not about whether it was "REALLY DELICIOUS BEEF" or whether it was crap, it's about something being intentionally mislabeled and misrepresented. As estufarian notes above, sometimes misrepresenting or mislabeling a product can be more than just a talking point.

                                                            People actually care about this sort of thing. If you're on a board about food, you shouldn't dismiss it so quickly.

                                                            1. re: tjr

                                                              Once again, very well put, tjr!

                                                              To answer Snarf question about export restriction of REAL Kobe beef. Simply do a Google search and you'll see it mention its controlled by the government. In fact, a good analogy is the Giant Panda of China. One cannot export any without the approval of the government!

                                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                Charles and TJR,

                                                                Come on. We all live in the real world. You can't develop a cachet and huge price point without letting the genie out of the bottle from time to time so that the market can test it. I think it's naive to suggest that true Kobe beef is not leaving the country. Many have responded that the purpose of the format is to avoid the restrictions that would otherwise hinder licensed restaurants.

                                                                So, what we have hear is the reference to a certificate, and responding speculation and conjecture that it can't possibly be real. What would someone charged with determining facts in this discussion do?

                                                                More relevantly, what would you folks do if presented with another menu and invitation? Yes or no?

                                                                1. re: Snarf

                                                                  The point you don't understand is that supply for real kobe beef is so limited, the demand in Japan supports it. Producers would sell it in Japan rather than going through the hassles of exporting (ie. language, lack of international demand at high prices, high shipping fees, respective health regulatory boards of each country, etc.....).

                                                                  Although w/ kobe beef, this might change in the next 10 yrs as most premium food stuff will eventually be going to China instead. The same thing will be happening to tuna.

                                                                  This happens w/ a lot of things from Japan. Try ordering from most Japanese sites online and they will tell you they don't sell internationally.

                                                                  1. re: aser

                                                                    Are you making your comments from the point of view of someone who is a home chef making inquiries, or as an industry professional? I'm not trying to sound condescending, my point is that a sous in one of the more well-regarded places in the country is more than likely to be able pull a few strings.

                                                                    For the record, I would go to the next dinner if my response was timely enough. I'm quite impressed that they could get the canned ducks, execute, and put good wines on the table.

                                                                    1. re: Snarf

                                                                      "I think it's naive to suggest that true Kobe beef is not leaving the country."

                                                                      I'm just giving you an explanation to your statement. Does it mean it's impossible to get kobe beef out of Japan. Of course not, where there's a will there's a way. Point being, it's not easy, and it is due to the reasons I stated above. That is also why people here are inherently skeptical, as they've been promised Kobe multiple times but were let down by false claims.

                                                                      Simply put, Japan is an insular country. They like to keep the best of the best for themselves, especially if there is a limited supply. Until somebody is willing to outbid the Japanese, the best ingredients will always go there. Exact same reason we can't get top notch tuna in Toronto.

                                                                      for the record, I work in the industry.

                                                                      1. re: aser

                                                                        Look at the current economy. There is no baseline with the variability of currencies that would be reliable. That explains the current marketing efforts of the prefecture. But at the end of the day, I would suggest you look at non doctor's last post. He's in the industry, participated in the event, and suggests that we simply trust the industry to provide the magic they promise. I'm inclined to believe, clap my hands, and show up to the things that might make some of the rest here afeared.

                                                                        Again. Repeat. Would those who doubt the meat respond to the next invite?

                                                                        1. re: Snarf

                                                                          I'm not doubting the meat at the dinner, I was simply responding to your statement. Trying to explain to you the reason behind the distribution system of Kobe beef, why it is hard to get outside of Japan.

                                                                          I think you're confusing me w/ some of the other posters up top. Whether they served kobe or not is not a big deal to me. I'm just trying to shed light to your declaration of everyone's naivety.

                                                                          For the record, I was offered an invite and I declined due to the pricing. I will in the future accept an invite if the food vs price equation is interesting to me.

                                                                          I also think the question regarding me being a home cook vs industry was uncalled for. Would my points have been less valid if I was merely a home cook? You can know a lot about kobe beef w/o being in the industry.

                                                                          How would you feel if I discredited your opinion because you're not in the industry.

                                                                          1. re: Snarf

                                                                            I've turned down the invites so far, mostly because they didn't really appeal to me. This one shows that I will be turning them down in the future. I'm not starved for Kobe beef or anything (I have it every few months), and unless this issue is actually resolved, I don't think I'd be willing to suspend disbelief and put my faith in the hands of a sous chef at a restaurant I don't find exceptional in anyway.

                                                                            Again, Snarf, you've pretty much belittled a board member who is stating something pretty accurate. Kobe beef isn't on the decline in Japan. The prices are exorbitant. It's still being sold almost exclusively in Japan, and I don't think any of it is going to waste. Is Charlie running a charity? I don't know. From what I've seen and heard, it isn't real Kobe. It seems simple enough to me: look at a picture of Kobe beef, then look at a picture of what was served at the CB event. If it really is, someone can come forth with the proof. I think CB is a neat idea that already has roots in underground dining in other cities. It's not a unique invention, but it's clearly something with a strong backing from the industry in Toronto.

                                                                            I have friends who have gone to the events, and the best part for them was the value. Some found the social aspect awkward, others enjoyed it. None of them seemed extraordinarily impressed with the food.

                                                                        2. re: Snarf

                                                                          If one of the BEST CHEF on earth - Joel Robuchon has to substitute Wagyu for Kobe since he cannot get real kobe beef for his Michelin 2* and 3* restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau. ( Kobe beef is used in his Tokyo Michelin restaurants for the same dishes). What makes you think a 'sous' from a non-Michelin restaurant has the clout to get 30+ pieces of the 'rarest' cut of beef from a restricted breed of cattle? Head over to Cumbrae or Whitehouse and enquire about how difficult it is to obtain 'beef cheeks'!! There's only two small pieces per cow!!

                                                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                            So no one is responding to the question on how the certificate number is in dispute.

                                                                            To be clear, my comment on home chef versus industry chef was made to set out the point that people in the industry have more cards to play with than someone who buys retail. That's an obvious point, not an insult. To suggest I'm belittling someone with that seems bizarre.

                                                                            1. re: Snarf

                                                                              It has been pointed out numerous times that a paper with a number does not mean anything at all if the 'certificate' is not read correctly. Please refer to the Barberian Steak House's case as pointed out numerous times in this thread and many other thread before. Even people in the industry can read it incorrectly, maybe because of lack of knowledge or there is some other purpose on the wrong information they give out !

                                                                  2. re: tjr

                                                                    i'm not sure that people are dismissing the issue quickly but rather that perhaps more people would like to hear more about the experience of the dinner itself, than read a debate about a disputed ingredient. for those of us who are still considering attending one of these events, can we hear more about the food, and your overall experience of it? i'm curious about how the food was served and the set up - were some dishes 'family style' or was everything plated individually? were there multiple tables? was seating pre-arranged? did people get a chance to interact with the chef, or was he mostly in the kitchen?

                                                                    1. re: Kasia

                                                                      If you look at the top of the post, there's a link to a blog answering a lot of your questions.


                                                                      and here's another one I came across....


                                                                      1. re: Kasia

                                                                        The events are pretty interesting. The PR/advertising aspects are also great, as well as the viral marketing.

                                                                        Unfortunately this is a contentious issue that has come up numerous times on the board.

                                                                      2. re: tjr

                                                                        I'm just sitting back and watching the Chowhound THUNDERDOME...

                                                                        It is almost Caligulan to watch at times.

                                                                        Re: "the beef"... I trust the Chef in question implicitly.

                                                                        And sometimes (through deep connections) Chefs work miracles.

                                                                        1. re: Non Doctor

                                                                          I agree with the miracles. That seems to be the point of the exercise. I'd love to see who they get and what they do with morels and ramps the next time out. And it would be very cool to see if they do any thing with Ruth Klahsen's experimental cheeses that she's testing at St. Lawrence. Rock on.

                                                                          1. re: Non Doctor

                                                                            I was hoping for a bit more than that, haha.

                                                                            1. re: tjr

                                                                              This is just a general question to everyone, as I never caught this post the first time around. Is it possible that the chef who procurred the beef in questions was tricked? In essence, is it possible that he truly believed he was getting Kobe, and therefore, was not misrepresenting anything? Is it possible that he did not know enough of the intricacies to labelling the beef that when he received the certificate, he honestly believed he was getting Kobe. Don't you think it is a bit unfair to not give the chef the benefit of the doubt and not tarnish an otherwise good reputation. By the way, I know nothing about this chef, I'm just wondering whether he is getting the short end of the stick and wasn't really out there to mislead anyone.

                                                  2. What did the balut taste like? I'm curious since I will never, ever eat it.

                                                    1. May we please start a new rule? Only Hounds that have actually been to Charlie's Burgers may comment on CB. All discussions of what the food may or may not have been based on hypotheses by those not in attendance shall be disallowed. Really gentlemen. This is Chowhounds, not Pedantic Not-So-Anonymous.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Googs

                                                        How about a general rule that only people has actually visit the restaurant may comment or questions on that restaurant from now on in all threads ?

                                                      2. This thread is getting increasingly unfriendly and personal, and it seems like we're just going in circles on the actual discussion, with no resolution in sight. We're going to lock it now.