American Wagyu vs. Japanese Wagyu – What's The Difference?

How is Japanese Wagyu Beef Different from American Wagyu?

There are a few factors that make American wagyu different from Japanese wagyu.

Most of this is connected to the way the cattle are bred and raised. However, the more relaxed restrictions on what counts as American wagyu, also mean there is a higher variance of quality across the breed. Thus affecting flavor and impacting the expectation of the consumer.

There is less marbling with a stronger beef flavor that characterizes American wagyu. Japanese beef is considered a mouth-watering experience, many would not say the same for the American counterpart. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t still taste great. It’s just not as impactful.

American wagyu cows are also raised very differently. From the acres of fields they graze in, to the unattended lifestyle they grow up in. These cows are subject to the same stresses as most cattle, and their cortisol levels can be high, as farmers are unable to watch over them constantly.

Finally, American wagyu cattle can be given hormones, drugs, growth promoters, or steroids at any point. Something that would never happen to a Japanese wagyu cow.

What is Japanese Wagyu Beef?

Japanese wagyu beef is a delicacy across the world. It’s so sought after, it’s compared to the likes of black truffles and high-grade caviar. These high specialty items have one major thing in common, a unique and exquisite taste. Wagyu beef, in particular, is a world-renowned steak, known for its tender and fat-infused meat. 

The most well-known and prolific brands of Japanese wagyu beef come from three distinct regions. These regions are Matsusaka city, Kobe city area, and Shiga prefecture. 

Not only do the cows need to come from these regions, but they also have to be the specific breed of Japanese wagyu cow to be authentic. 

The major reason for this is because only in this breed does the fat metabolize internally within the muscle to create its unique flavor and taste. The best quality results in A5 grading.

What is American Wagyu Beef?

The American wagyu breed of cattle is not pure wagyu cattle. It is a cross-breed between wagyu and more common beef cattle breeds. Thus creating a different cow breed altogether, one that differs in texture, taste, and most importantly, price. Many sellers will refer to the angus steak as the closest comparison to the American wagyu. 

You might wonder why farmers would do this, knowing it wouldn’t reach the heights of the Japanese wagyu. Well for many Americans and people across the world, the Japanese wagyu can often be a bit too much for their palate and can only be consumed in small slices.

This is in comparison to American wagyu, which is easier to serve in larger portions sizes. Not only that, it still retains the wonderful fat marbling and has the American beef flavor that is so familiar.

How are Japanese Wagyu Cows Raised?

From birth to slaughter, Japanese wagyu cattle are treated with reverence by their farmers. These cows are likely some of the most well-looked after animals in the world.

Supported by years of learning, these cows are raised to ensure their meat provides the best quality of marbling and tenderness from living relaxed and stress-free lives. 

To ensure the cows live such carefree lives, they begin life under the care of special breeders who ensure they are healthy and of high quality. At nearly one-year-old, they are sold at auction to wagyu farmers to take over their care. 

From here, the farmers go to great lengths to ensure they are protected from any stressful situations. Meaning they live with only a few other cows, are kept from cows they don’t get on with and are protected from loud sounds. The overall goal of this is to ensure low cortisol levels don’t deteriorate the herd meat quality. Something American cows suffer from. 

The Japanese cows have clean, freshwater every day, and live in open-air farms. With three meals daily, full of grains, wheat, and hay important from around the world, these animals are well fed and very expensive. A big factor in that final price tag you see.

Where Can I Buy Japanese Wagyu Beef Online?

High-quality Japanese wagyu beef can be sourced from trusted retailers like Kolikof Caviar and Gourmet and can make the perfect dinner accompaniment. 

Those wanting to taste the culinary delights of Japanese Wagyu beef can enjoy our extensive catalog of premium wagyu beef cuts such as our A5 Miyazaki Japanese Wagyu NY Strip or perfectly portioned Grass-Fed Wagyu Beef – Filet Mignon.

1 comment

  • Sharon Schmidt

    I know you’ve heard this before but I once had your beef. Being a hair dresser our boss took us out and order out dinner. IAM now 75 and that was the best my lips have ever tasted. Thank you

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