You see Kobe beef on the menu all over Las Vegas and even across the United States. But that Kobe beef you're eating probably isn't true Japanese Kobe. Only one resort in the United States serves registered Kobe beef from Japan's Kobe Beef Council.
"Wynn, as you may know, is the only registered end user in the U.S.," says David Walzog, who serves the beef at SW Steakhouse. "We have a plaque and bronze pieces that announce that Wynn is that registered user."
Certified Kobe plaque [Photo: Wynn Las Vegas]
That means Wynn is only using Tajima cattle born in Hyōgo prefecture in Japan that's processed in Kobe, Nishinomiya, Sanda, Kakogawa and Himeji in Hyōgo prefecture. The meat has a marbling ratio, called BMS, of level 6 and above with a meat quality score of 4 or 5 from animals weighing 470 kg or less.
Tajima beef comes from an ancient stock of cattle called "kuroge Wagyu," black haired Japanese cattle. Around 260 farms raise the cattle, and the cows are fed sake and beer mash to help fatten them up. Legend has it that each gets a daily massage because relaxed cattle make better beef.
"The beef really has this luscious melting point when you cut it right and cook it properly," Walzog says. "Earlier in the week we had a tenderloin rib cap graded A5, a top grading, that's exclusive. All these guys have their own trade secrets and methods and a little madness in the breeding and fattening."
Most of the Kobe at Wynn is A5 with a marbling score between eight and 10. "Eleven and 12 is rarely found outside Japan," he says.
Walzog, who says Mizumi at Wynn Las Vegas also serves the Kobe, gets three heads of beef every seven weeks to two months. And the price is indicative of the exclusivity. SW serves its Kobe by the ounce starting at four and going up incrementally from there. That's a piece of meat about the size of your palm.
Japanese Kobe beef at the top along with Japanese A5 from Idue Ranch Omi beef, Australian beef and domestic USDA prime strip [Photo: David Walzog]
Walzog also serves Omi beef from Shiga prefecture in Japan (some say it's even better than Kobe), Japanese A5 from Idue Ranch, some Australian beef as well as USDA prime domestic beef only from Nebraska. The beef is aged (wet or dry, depending on the cut), grilled and the dipped into clarified butter on its way out to the guest.
So what are other restaurants serving when they say they have Kobe beef on the menu? Maybe Japanese A5 Wagyu. Maybe a "Kobe-style" beef from the United States. But it's not Japanese Kobe.
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