What Is Wagyu Beef? Find Out Why This Meat Is So Special

Find out what makes Waygu beef different from other high-end steaks and why it’s one of the most expensive meats in the world.

Wagyu beef, which is recognized for its remarkable marbling, tenderness, and distinctive flavor, is considered by many to be the best beef in the world.

wagyu beef steaks on cutting board

The term “wagyu” means “Japanese cow,” and refers to four distinct breeds of cattle that were first domesticated in Japan.

Wagyu beef is now also produced in other nations, however, such as the United States and Australia.

In this post, we’ll look into what makes Wagyu beef unique, the many Wagyu beef grades, and the best ways to prepare it.

Grades of Wagyu Beef 

Wagyu beef is rated according to a number of criteria, such as the amount of marbling, the color of the meat, and the fat’s texture.

japanese wagyu beef

A5 is the highest quality grade of Wagyu beef in Japan. A5 Wagyu has a superb texture, a rich, buttery flavor, and is very delicate. 

The A5 rating is based on the yield grade and the meat quality grade. The amount of usable meat on the carcass is referred to as the yield grade, whereas the marbling, color, and firmness of the flesh are used to determine the meat quality grade.

International Varieties of Wagyu Beef

Wagyu beef is originally from Japan, but there are international varieties and strains of Wagyu you can try as well.

Japanese Wagyu Beef 

The benchmark for Wagyu beef is Japanese Wagyu. Japanese Wagyu comes from four breeds of cattle: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn, and Japanese Polled cattle. 

slices of japanese a5 wagyu on cutting board

Due to the large amount of unsaturated fat in the flesh, the meat from these animals is recognized for its remarkable marbling and distinctive flavor.

Japanese Wagyu is frequently grilled or seared to highlight its distinctive flavor and texture, and it is normally served in tiny portions.

One type of Japanese wagyu you may have heard of before is Kobe beef.

American Wagyu Beef 

American Angus cattle are crossed with Japanese Wagyu cattle to produce American Wagyu beef.

american wagyu steak on cutting board next to flame

As a result, the meat has a flavor and texture that is comparable to Japanese Wagyu, but it has a somewhat leaner profile. 

The highest grade for American Wagyu beef is normally A5, and it is graded on the same scale as Japanese Wagyu. American Wagyu meat is, nevertheless, typically less expensive than Japanese Wagyu beef.

Australian Wagyu Beef 

Japanese Wagyu cattle are crossed with Australian Angus and Hereford cattle to produce Australian Wagyu beef.

australian wagyu tomahawk steak with rosemary and olive oil

As a result, the meat has a somewhat distinct profile but is nonetheless close in flavor and texture to Japanese and American Wagyu. 

Australian Wagyu meat is a preferred option among beef aficionados since it is often less expensive than Japanese or American Wagyu steak.

What Makes Wagyu Beef Special?

Learn what sets wagyu steak apart from other high quality cuts of beef.

Strict Quality Control 

The stringent quality control procedures followed when producing Wagyu beef are one of the key characteristics that set it apart from other varieties of cattle. 

For instance, strict rules that cover everything from the raising and feeding of the cattle to the processing and distribution of the meat apply to Wagyu beef in Japan. This guarantees that only the best meat reaches the market.

Marbling Texture 

The texture of the marbling is another another distinctive quality of Wagyu beef. Because Wagyu cattle have a lot of intramuscular fat, their meat has a characteristic marbling.

chef cutting into large wagyu beef cut

Even when the meat is cooked to medium-well or well-done, the marbling helps to keep it juicy and tender.

Lots of Good Fat

Wagyu beef is especially exceptional because a large portion of it has unsaturated fat, which is known as “healthy” fat.

Wagyu beef is considered to be a healthier option than many other forms of beef since this sort of fat is known to have a favorable effect on cholesterol levels and heart health.

How To Cook Wagyu Beef 

When you’re cooking wagyu, it’s critical to remember that Wagyu beef is a delicate, premium cut of meat and should be prepared with care. 

wagyu beef with salt, pepper, and garlic on cutting board

The following are some recommendations for cooking Wagyu beef:

  1. Let the meat come to room temperature before cooking. Take the meat out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This will allow the meat to cook more evenly.
  2. Use a hot skillet or grill. Wagyu beef should be cooked over high heat to sear the meat and create a crispy exterior while keeping the inside tender and juicy.
  3. Season simply. Because Wagyu beef is so flavorful on its own, it only requires a simple seasoning of salt and pepper to bring out its natural flavors.
  4. Cook to the proper temperature. For the best results, cook Wagyu beef to medium-rare or medium. Overcooking the meat can cause it to lose its tenderness and flavor.
  5. Let the meat rest before serving. After cooking, let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender dish.


cooked wagyu steak sliced on cutting board

Why is Wagyu beef expensive?

Wagyu beef is expensive due to the rigorous breeding criteria and quality assurance procedures used to create it.

The meat is also very marbled, with a distinct texture, and a flavor profile that is unmatched by any other sort of cattle.

Does Wagyu beef pair well with wine?

Yes, Wagyu beef pairs well with a wide range of wines, including bold reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Syrah.

The high fat content of the meat contributes to the wine’s tannins being softer, creating a harmonious and savory combination.

Can Wagyu beef be used as a burger patty?

Yes, burger patties made from Wagyu beef are wonderful. The high fat content of the meat contributes to the burger’s ability to stay juicy and tasty, and the meat’s distinctive flavor profile and texture combine to create a genuinely superb burger.

What is the difference between Wagyu and Kobe?

Kobe is a type of Japanese wagyu. Specifically, Kobe comes from the Tajima strain of Japanese black breed wagyu cattle.

Kobe beef is usually an A4 or A5 grade wagyu, making it a high quality piece of meat.

Final Thoughts

One of the most exclusive and decadent meats in the world, wagyu beef is a special and highly sought-after variety. It is hardly surprising that Wagyu beef has become a favorite among culinary connoisseurs all over the world given its stringent breeding requirements, exquisite marbling patterns, and soft, juicy texture.

Wagyu beef is a genuinely special dish that is sure to impress, whether you’re wanting to have a luxurious steak supper or want to try your hand at cooking with this valued meat at home. You won’t regret treating yourself to some Wagyu steak, so go ahead and do it.

This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.