Wagyu beef began as a select breed of cattle from Japan, where the animals are raised and slaughtered according to strict standards, although the exact process varies from prefecture to prefecture.
The result is a highly marbled and rich-tasting beef prized in steaks and other preparations throughout the world. Its high quality is reflected in its high cost.
For years in the United States wagyu, which literally means “Japanese beef,” was usually referred to as “Kobe beef,” as much of the exports to the U.S. came from the area around that port city.
Over the past couple of decades American beef producers have also gotten in on wagyu’s popularity, usually cross-breeding the Japanese cattle with another breed, such as Angus. This “American wagyu” also fetches a premium price, but not as high as the Japanese imports.
Market research firm Datassential reports that wagyu currently found on 3.5% of menus across the U.S. That’s a 32% increase over the past four years.
Click through the gallery to learn more about this Flavor of the Week and see how one restaurant is using wagyu on its menu.