Food Knowledge

What is Wagyu Beef?

The name WAGYU is a Japanese word that comes from combining two words, WA (和) which means Japan, and GYU (牛) which means cow. Therefore, the word WAGYU (和 牛) can be translated to “Japanese cow”.

The meat from Wagyu cattle is highly known for its quality which in return commands a high price. The popularity of the Wagyu beef is derived from its unique flavor, tenderness, and juiciness that results in an unparalleled eating experience.

One of the reasons for this is that the production of Wagyu beef is heavily regulated. Therefore, only the very best proven genetics are kept for breeding to ensure the highest standard and quality.

Wagyu can be divided into a total of 5 breeds

  1. Japanese Black
  2. Japanese Brown
  3. Japanese Polled
  4. Japanese Shorthorn
  5. Kumamoto Reds

The most popular and common breed is the Japanese Black. In Japan, the Japanese Black make up a total of around 90% of the total Wagyu cattle population. The Japanese Black is known for the fine strips of fat that are found in its lean meat (marbling). This gives the meat a unique flavor that combine to bring out its exquisite, buttery, and tender texture that dissolves in one’s mouth.

Furthermore, Wagyu cattle need to be raised in a more special condition compare to that of the standard cattle. These conditions include a quiet atmosphere with cool air and good ventilation. In terms of food, the cattle have to be fed with food that are rich in nutritions such as wheat, dried hay, corn, and soybean. The cattle must also not be put under a lot of physical stresses. As a result, cattle are often fed beer at least once per week to help its digestive system and to relieve them of any stresses.

The grade of Wagyu meat is made up of 2 components (yield grade and quality grade). First, there are three yield grades; A, B, and C. Second, there are five quality grades; 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. These grades are given based on marbling, meat color, texture, and fat color. The grades can be divided into a total of 15 levels with A5 representing the highest quality and commanding the highest price.

Wagyu Meat Quality Grade

In japan, there is a national competitive exhibition for Wagyu called “Japan’s Wagyu Olympics” that is held once every five years. The contest is held to find the best Wagyu meat from a pool of around 500 cattle.

Moreover, we often heard the phrases “Kobe beef, Matsusaka beef, Hida beef….” but what does it actually mean? In truth, they are beefs that all originated from the Japanese Black breed, but are raised in different area of Japan.

These cattle breeds are named accordingly to the area where they are raised. However, being raised in different areas also mean that the atmosphere, food, and living conditions are different. As a result, the beef quality and taste can vary between area.

For example, Kobe beef come from Kobe City, province Hyōgo. Matsusaka beef come from Matsusaka City, province Mie. Hida beef come from Hida City, province Gifu. Hakata beef come from Hakata City, province Fukuoka.

Lastly, not all Wagyu cattle are raised domestically in Japan, some breeds are allowed to be raised internationally as well. Like in the previous case the name of the cattle breeds are given accordingly to the country where they are raised.  For instance, Australian Wagyu being raised in Australia.

Example Wagyu Menu “Wagyu A3 Don (ข้าวหน้าเนื้อวากิว A3) ”.

Wagyu A3 Don




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