Wagyu and Kobe beef are known to be delicious meats—in fact, they are the best steaks.

The popularity of wagyu and Kobe beef continues to grow, as word about this excellent piece of Japanese meat spreads worldwide. Curious diners are eager to try the tender meat for themselves. But do you know the difference between the two? Do you know which one you should get? In this post, we will talk about the difference between the two, so you can make better meat choices. 

Wagyu

First, let’s talk about wagyu, which translates to “Japanese cattle. When you hear the word wagyu, it refers to any cattle that were bred and raised in Japan. 

Simply put, wagyu is Japanese beef that is made exclusively using any of the following Japanese beef cattle breeds: 

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Polled
  • Shorthorn

Over 90% of all wagyu comes from Japanese Black cattle

The main characteristic of wagyu that makes it stand out from the others is its high level of marbling. In addition to that, it is well-known for its high percentage of unsaturated fats. 

Kobe Beef

Kobe beef is a variety of wagyu, and can be considered the caviar of meat. A real Kobe beef comes from the black Tajima breed of Wagyu in Hyogo Prefecture, which is raised based on a strict protocol set by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association. 

Tajima-Gyu cattle should be born, raised, fed, and slaughtered based on the guidelines, such as: 

  • The cattle must be born, raised, and fed food from their native region.
  • The slaughter must take place in approved slaughterhouses.
  • The age of the cattle must be between 28 and 60 months.
  • The meat must be rated based on their quality and marbling. 

Rumor has it that Tajima-Gyu cattle listen to classical music and even get regular massages. 

Due to the strict guidelines, only 3 to 5,000 carcasses manage to be certified and these usually end up in local markets. As a result, for exported Kobe, the quantities are little, which is why its price is extremely high once it hits international markets. 

Just like any wagyu, it is well-marbled and is rich in flavor. Moreover, it has an excellent tender texture that will melt in your mouth. 

If you want to make sure you have authentic Kobe beef, look for the approval mark of designation stamped on four areas on the carcass. This proves that the beef has been certified by the Kobe Beer Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association. 

Keep in mind: there are only a few restaurants selling real Kobe beef, and those that do offer them at really high prices. So, be mindful of what you’re eating because if it says it’s Kobe beef but it’s surprisingly cheap, then it could mean that the beef isn’t from Japan. Some restaurants in the US use a hybrid of wagyu and Angus. 

How are They the Same

Wagyu Vs. Kobe Beef

Now, for you to fully understand their difference, you also need to know how both are the same. For one, wagyu and Kobe beef have shared origins, as mentioned, Kobe beef is one of the many types of Japanese beef that hails from the Kobe region. Essentially, Kobe beef is wagyu beef, yet not all wagyu beef is Kobe beef. 

Another similarity they have is that they both come in high value. Indeed, getting authentic wagyu and Kobe beef will cost you a lot of money. So, if you want to try this out, you need to be prepared. In fact, a pound of either of two types of meat will cost you up to $200. 

Next, both of these meats feature gorgeous marbling as both are genetically predisposed to have huge amounts of fat marbling to produce high monounsaturated fat levels. You can really see the abundance of fat when you cut into the meat, which is why it’s juicy and overly satisfying. Indeed, when you get to try this, it’s going to change the game for you. 

How to Buy Authentic Wagyu or Kobe Beef

How do you know if the wagyu or Kobe steak you’re buying is the real thing? There are a few indicators: 

The price may seem like the best way to tell if you have authentic Kobe or wagyu on your hands. A real wagyu is more expensive than other cuts. However, some sellers would mark their prices up just because they can, which is why you shouldn’t rely on the price alone. 

You can also eat wagyu or Kobe beef at an official restaurant. Here in the US, there is a list of restaurants that sell authentic Kobe beef from Japan, which are located in big cities, like New York City and Las Vegas. 

On the other hand, if you plan to cook your own, make sure you buy from a reputable meat distributor. 

Which One Should You Choose

When it comes to choosing which meat to eat, there’s no right or wrong answer. You can have both so you can fully experience how they taste

However, if you haven’t tried wagyu before, try to start slow. It’s best if you start off with wagyu before you move on to Kobe. Why? You can get the most out of your money because wagyu, alone, is already oh-so-tender and rich in flavor that you’re going to look for it over and over again. 

On the other hand, if you’ve tried wagyu so many times and you want to experience something as satisfying, then it’s time you try and spend on Kobe beef. Kobe beef is also perfect for those who love the finer details. 

It could be fun to compare the two meats, so if you have some money to spare for a delicious steak night, trying out these two will be a pleasurable and satisfying experience that you won’t ever forget. 

Remember, you deserve to taste the two highly prized steaks in the world. If you get the chance, do it. It’s even better that you know now the difference between wagyu and Kobe beef, which will help you make an informed decision and get your money’s worth.