Why Is Wagyu Steak So Good?

slices of wagyu steak medium rare

Wagyu steak is one of the trendiest and decadent dishes you can order, available only at the best restaurants.

The mystique and rarity of Wagyu is becoming more and more well known, and as it becomes more sought after, more people are wondering just why is Wagyu steak so good? What makes it better than other steak cuts?

So Why Is Wagyu Steak So Good?

The simple answer is that Wagyu is one of the most high-quality steaks money can buy, due to the genetics of Wagyu cattle, the carefully managed diet and treatment of the cattle, and the tightly managed rules governing the standards and authenticity of Wagyu beef.

The secret of all Wagyu, regardless of the particular grade, is in the fat content of the meat, and how the fat is spread throughout the meat. This is known as marbling, and the higher the marbling the more evenly the fat is spread through the meat.

This in turn makes the beef juicy and packed with flavor, explaining its growing popularity.

Achieving this sort of marbling however isn’t an easy task. Even among specially bred cattle, not every cow provides high-quality Wagyu.

The secrets and methods of obtaining high-grade marbling and flavor are closely guarded and regulated, meaning real Wagyu remains an exclusive and limited option for most diners.

What is so special about Japanese Wagyu Beef?

The meat itself, particularly Japanese Wagyu has certain characteristics that set it apart from Wagyu that is bred in the US or elsewhere. 

The cattle of Japan have been monitored closely for over a hundred years, and cows are often traced not only by breed but by bloodline and even location. 

The most common breed of cattle that produces Wagyu is the Japanese Black, or Kuroge Washu, which makes up roughly 80% of all Wagyu cattle.

The reason for this breed’s dominance is that it allows the best marbling, and is the only breed that can produce the highest grade of meat according to the Japanese Meat Grading Association. These are known as grades A4 and A5 (A5 being the highest, and A4 being slightly lower). 

Marbling

The signature thing with Japanese Wagyu is the high quality of marbling, particularly in A5 rated Wagyu. The only way to get A5 Wagyu is to source it from Japan, as no US-bred Wagyu meets this level of marbling.

These layers of intramuscular fat make Japanese Wagyu the juiciest, tastiest, and most tender cuts of beef in the world. 

Some examples of this are the Japanese A5 Wagyu Prime Rib or Japanese A5 Wagyu Petite Striploin Steak. As you can see on these cuts, the marbling is enough to give the meat a pink hue and the fat runs all the way through the meat.

Ideally, you will be informed of the particular province the meat is being sourced from, to certify the authenticity of the meat. 

Fat Content

Some people may find this confusing. Oftentimes a fatty piece of meat is a sign of a poor cut or a cheaper piece of meat. However, with Wagyu, high-fat content is the signature of a high-quality and authentic piece of wagyu.  

The secret of Japanese Wagyu is the type of fat that is found within it. This type of beef is actually high in both omega-3 and omega-6, two fatty acids that are actually beneficial to the health of our heart, brain, and body.

The high quality of the monounsaturated fats within Wagyu gives them an almost buttery quality as the fat melts and moistens the meat while it cooks. This self-basting is what allows Wagyu to be so tender and juicy.

This in turn actually allows Japanese Wagyu to melt in the mouth.

No, really, the fat in Wagyu actually has a melting point below human body temperature, so the beef literally melts as you eat it, creating a truly mouth-watering flavor and texture as you eat it.

Why is A5 Wagyu so good?

A5 Wagyu is the top of the line and can only be found in cattle bred in Japan itself. No other Wagyu from anywhere else in the world can achieve this rating, which makes up the very top end of marbling and yield.

A5 Wagyu has such comprehensive marbling that it is juicier than any other cut of meat, even lower grades of Wagyu. The higher fat content of A5 Wagyu makes the self-basting nature of Wagyu even more pronounced which also makes it more flavourful and tender.

Why is Wagyu so marbled?

Wagyu is so marbled because the Japanese realized a long time ago that this would improve the taste and texture of the meat.

This led to the strict management of cattle, to ensure that the bloodlines of Wagyu cattle remain pure. Pure bloodlines mean that the marbling remained consistently high.


The genetics of these cows have been protected to ensure that their naturally fatty and marbled meat remains this way.

There are also rumors about farmers feeding their cows beer and giving them massages, however, the validity of these rumors isn’t easy to ascertain.

Some farmers may massage their cows in order to keep them relaxed or if they are unable to roam a very large area and become stressed.

This will help make the meat more tender. It is also possible that some farmers may give their cows beer to increase their appetite, but again this practice may not be widespread or particularly popular. 

Is Wagyu beef worth it?

Whether Wagyu is worth it or not depends on the diner, the type of Wagyu being served, and how it is served. 

If you’re someone who loves meat, particularly steak, then trying Wagyu is a must-do experience that is often considered a badge of honor among meat lovers.

The unique texture and flavor of this meat, along with its expense and rarity make it a real occasion befitting a special moment or celebration.

Wagyu is traditionally served in small portions, unlike other steak dishes. This is because every mouthful of Wagyu is so rich and flavorful that it is considered wasteful to eat large portions of it. There is also a diminishing return in terms of flavor.

As the buttery fat coats the inside of your mouth the flavor will be slightly dulled, so you can only experience the full flavor of this meat in the first few mouthfuls, making a large portion a waste.

If you aren’t a meat-lover or prefer strips or large cuts of meat, Wagyu may not be to your liking, especially if you prefer the more robust texture and flavor of Angus or other types of meat.

Ultimately, noone can decide but yourself. So why not give it a shot? You can buy genuine, A5 Japanese wagyu steaks from CrowdCow, delivered straight to your doorstep!

Ready for more? I checked out if walmart sells Wagyu meat!

Richard

Richard

Richard is the founder of SteakBuff. He manages the team of expert writers on the site and is a foodie who loves eating steaks

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wagyu meat for sous vide