Wagyu Beef: A Cut Above

wagyu salt plate

If you’ve scanned the Yamashiro entree menu or the menu of other fine restaurants in the United States, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed the word “Wagyu” used to describe the steak or beef. And there is good reason for this inclusion, as Wagyu beef is considered one of the best tasting meats in the world and healthier for you than other beef. But what exactly is Wagyu, and why does it taste so good and what makes it a healthier cut of meat? The answer lies in a combination of nature and nurture.

Wagyu first originated in Japan and is a term that refers to all Japanese beef cattle. Translated from Japanese, ‘Wa’ means Japanese and ‘gyu’ means cow - or Japanese cow. Because of Japan's uniquely rugged terrain, different breeding and feeding techniques were developed, resulting in cattle with special DNA and meat composition. Wagyu cattle is special because of its genetic predisposition, which yields a beef that contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than your typical beef.

wagyu cow

The other major component to Wagyu beef is the superior treatment of Wagyu cattle. Put simply, Wagyu cattle are pampered. In the U.S., Wagyu are fed a balanced mixture of corn, alfalfa, barley, and wheat straw. To keep Wagyu cattle happy, they are often brushed regularly, housed with proper mood lighting, and given pleasant music to listen to. Some Wagyu are even given regular massages. Of course, there is a logical explanation for all this pampering. This strict regime and delicate treatment improves the quality of the beef's marbling, a key factor in high quality, tasty beef.

Marbling, or the intramuscular fat contained within a cut of beef, is a result of the Wagyu’s superior genetics and treatment. Intensely marbled beef is more tender and succulent than beef with less marbling. Health experts have also discovered that this intense marbling results in a lower percentage of saturated fat, and thus a meat that is much more beneficial to human health than most beef.

wagyu marbling

Thanks to the Wagyu’s unique DNA and special treatment, gourmet chefs, restauranteurs, red meat connoisseurs, and even First Lady Michelle Obama have taken notice of Wagyu’s delicious tender beef and its health benefits. And at Yamashiro, we offer two Wagyu dishes - the American Wagyu Steak and our Himalayan Salt Plate, which is placed on a dense block of hand-cut salt, heated to over 400 degrees and then served on the salt plate, allowing the steak to finish cooking at the table - imparting a full taste and new level of flavor. Our Chef Brock - along with other gourmet chefs around the world - understands that Wagyu is truly a cut above the rest.