We’ve heard the name, and most of us will believe we’ve eaten it before, but few of us actually have. Wagyu beef. First, let’s get the school lesson out of the way. Wagyu literally means Japanese cattle. They are specific types of beef cattle in Japan bred for their predominate marbling characteristics resulting from a higher percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat (including omega-3 and omega-6), which produces a very tender beef. Gradings range from C1 to A5. Quality grading is based on marbling, meat colour & brightness, meat firmness & texture, and fat colour, lustre & quality. Genuine 100 percent Wagyu averages $100-300 per pound, and can run much more for the highest graded sought after Wagyu, the premium of the premiums.
JA Zen-Noh Group, a Japanese Wagyu purveyor with the largest market share in Japan and the U.S., provides a Wagyu that has been aged for 30 months, and has earned the top grading, A5. Naturally, quality assurance starts from the beginning. The company’s producers’ (comprising of The National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Association) mark and track each and every head of cattle to ensure careful monitoring throughout the rearing process. Supplying a safe and reliable, high quality product to the consumer is their goal.
Today, JA Zen-Noh is keen to make the ultra beef more readily available to the American consumer, and, recently, hosted a tasting at Torafuku Restaurant in Los Angeles. The menu was prepared by the restaurant’s owner and chef, Tetsuya Harikawa, in collaboration with Chef Izumida Takao of Takao Restaurant in Brentwood. Dishes were kept simple to showcase the meat. Besides, there’s not much one needs to do with beef of this calibre. To start things off, we were treated to Wagyu Sushi. No, it’s not raw. Think of it as aburi (lightly grilled) toro. This is a cut from the outer area of the center steak, aka the best part of the rib. The flavour, delicate. The texture, very fine. Barely any chew required. It practically melted away in your mouth. Next, the most complicated dish of the day, Wagyu Sukiyaki Bowl, made up of thin strips of rib eye in a sweet soy sauce, Kamado rice, one poached egg, and caramelized onions. You break the egg, and mix everything together. Uhuh. Wow. All I can say is that I asked for a second bowl. Lastly, Wagyu Steak. As mentioned in a previous article, I’m not big on steak, but this Wagyu would have me eating beef all day long! Aside from a little salt and pepper, Chef Harikawa merely brought the meat to room temperature, ensuring the center would not remain cold, before grilling on low heat for a few minutes on each side. It is, truly, one of the most tender steaks you could possibly have. On my third round (yes, call me oinker, or... better yet, mooer) I savoured it with the Chef’s spicy ponzu sauce. Again, the experience was equatable to eating sushi, and taking in the finest quality sashimi - sublime on its own, still equally so with a light complimenting sauce.
It’s sad to think of returning to regular beef that is a far cry from pure Wagyu. Eating beef will never be the same. If you ever have the opportunity to try it, make certain you do. Hmmm. How will you know it’s 100 percent Wagyu? When price doesn’t give it away, the taste and quality surely will.
Please visit the website for more information on JA Zen-Noh Group
10914 W. Pico Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel: (310) 470-0014
Mon-Sat 12:00-2:00 pm
Mon-Thurs 5:30 -10:00 pm
Fri-Sat 6:00-10:00 pm
Sun 5:30-9:00 pm