What is Kobe Beef Steak?
Kobe beef originates from the Tajima-gyu cattle of the Hyōgo Prefecture in Japan. The Kobe breed of cow has been celebrated in Japan for centuries and is a delicacy held in high-esteem both in Japan and across the world.
The meat is known for its sought-after flavour and distinct marble-like appearance. It’s also more tender than regular beef and is made under very strict rules, with cattle having to satisfy the following criteria:
- Only Tajima-gyu cattle from Hyōgo Prefecture can be labelled as Kobe.
- Cattle must be farm fed within Hyōgo Prefecture.
- Cattle must be bullocks.
- Cattle must be processed in Kobe, Nishinomiya, Sanda, Kakogawa, or Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture.
- Marbling ratio must come up to a certain standard.
- Meat quality score must be high enough too.
- Cattle must weigh 470 kg or less.
You’ve Probably Never Tasted Kobe Beef or a Kobe Steak
You may well have tried Kobe if you’ve travelled to Japan, and dined in exclusive restaurants but if you’ve ordered it in other countries, chances are it’s just regular beef or beef made from Wagyu (Kobe family) derived cattle.
One of the reasons why you’ve probably never tasted it, even if you’ve ordered it, is that it’s so rare. Only about 3,000 cattle a year make the grade and receive Kobe certification. Of these only around 30 leave Japan for export. So, that’s 30 cattle for the whole of the rest of the world. Do the math.
How Can You Tell If It’s Real Kobe?
Kobe beef is in high demand and short supply, so if you are paying less than a high price it won’t be genuine Kobe, it will just be ‘Kobe-style’. Typically, a genuine Kobe steak would cost at least five times the cost of a regular steak.
If your local restaurant is offering Kobe steak, then ask them about the history and tradition of the meat. If they don’t know, or concoct a story, then you can probably say it’s not real.
All Kobe beef is certified under strict guidelines and is 100% traceable back to its’ source in Hyogo prefecture. Each animal is also tracked via a 10 digit number for the whole of its’ life - to make sure each piece of beef is completely authentic.
If the place where you're ordering from can’t prove it’s authenticity, then it’s not real - it’s fake.