Forbes: Kobe Beef Is "Food's Biggest Scam"

Categories: Meat

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True Kobe beef. (We think.)
Forbes has published a damning indictment of what the article's headline calls "Food's Biggest Scam": Kobe beef. Author Larry Olmstead doesn't pull his punches:

You cannot buy Japanese Kobe beef in this country. Not in stores, not by mail, and certainly not in restaurants. No matter how much you have spent, how fancy a steakhouse you went to, or which of the many celebrity chefs who regularly feature "Kobe beef" on their menus you believed, you were duped.

As Olmstead explains, true Kobe beef raised in Japan's Hyogo prefecture is never exported, except to Macao, and no beef from Japan has been allowed into the United States since 2010.

The piece is excellent, and you should read it, but it did leave me puzzled. Do that many restaurants (or groceries or whatever) truly "dupe" consumers into thinking that they are eating the real-deal Japanese beef?

I can't think of an instance in St. Louis when a menu didn't make clear (if only in the fine print) that its "Kobe" beef was actually American or Australian "Kobe" beef.

For example, at celebrity chef Hubert Keller's Burger Bar (999 North Second Street; 314-881-7580), the menu offers "Kobe beef," but spells out that this is American "Kobe" beef.

Then again, the menu describes this American "Kobe" beef as "the most expensive meat in the world for the most discriminating palate," which probably is the sort of thing to which Olmstead objects.

Olmstead promises a second article tomorrow in which he'll argue that "domestic Kobe" and other such terms are "meaningless." If you don't want to wait, this passage from today's article seems to preview that argument:

...the term Kobe today has even less meaning, and the meat can come from many different countries and have nothing in common with actual Kobe beef except that it comes from cows. The argument often broached by the food industry that this non-Japanese Kobe is some sort of recreation of the real thing from the same breed of cows is also largely a myth.

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999 N. 2nd St., St. Louis, MO

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5 comments
rock.winters
rock.winters

That's funny I know several people who have tried both and noticed very little difference between Japanese and American Kobe-wagyu. I guess maybe you purchased the cheapest stuff you could buy, I do recommend buying from a high quality American wagyu producer. People who have tried some high quality American Kobe will ignore this article since it is ten times better than any other beef you will buy in America, all these articles knocking American Kobe came up after that Forbes idiot wrote a BS article knocking American Kobe. I do not think people realize the Japanese exported the exact same cattle used in Japan to the USA. So it can't be a scam. It is the wagyu genetics not the fact a guy in Japan raised it vs. a guy in America. And none of the American wagyu producers are scamming anyone they all clearly say it's raised in America. It's not like they are claiming their beef was raised in Japan they make it very clear it was raised in America, and we are all very lucky to have wagyu cattle in America I love the stuff and have never had any better beef. It would be terrible if the Japanese would have never exported the wagyu to America.

rock.winters
rock.winters

As with anything there may be a few producers out there not producing American Kobe that's up to par, but most producers but a great deal of time to produce a awesome product. And I have never seen any producer selling American Kobe bf and claiming the beef was raised in Japan. Wagyu cattle are awesome and wagyu meat blows any other beef away. I can't believe there is this much controversy over the exact same breed of cattle. All this controversy is just manufactured by journalist looking for something to write about that will be raise eyebrows and the average person does not know enough about to know the journalist are full of s*it.American Kobe beef is nothing but the best meat available period. I buy it locally all the time and everyone I have ever cooked for which is probably over 30 people and they were very impressed and thought it was the best beef they had ever tried. And in the end all these articles do is hurt some poor wagyu farmer who works is but off every day trying to raise the best beef in the world.

rock.winters
rock.winters

Well I have to disagree sinoman, I have had high quality Fullblood Tajima bloodline American wagyu that was in fact very similar to Japanese Kobe. Now let's be honest here does everyone really think the Japanese have magic beans they use to raise their cattle or something.? I don't think so, the only real difference in How they are raised is the Japanese wagyu cattle are kept in smaller confined areas compared to American wagyu which have more land to utilize which raises some question for me about them being humanely treated in japan. In America we have more land so they actually have room to roam a little and graze etc. now there are a few flavor differences between Japanese Kobe and American Kobe as you would expect since they are the same cattle just raised in different countries. I can tell you American Kobe blows away any angus or prime beef you can buy. If the Japanese wanted to keep Kobe beef all to themselves they should not have exported the breed to other countries. I think a few snobs like Olmsted just have a personal agenda against American Kobe beef,, there's no other reason for them to bad mouth it this bad. I have tried tons of what I thought and was marketed as high quality beef and none of it has compared to American Kobe beef. Wagyu cattle are what makes Kobe beef so good, where the cows are raised only plays a minuscule part. It's genetics of wagyu cattle not the fact a Japanese guy fattened the steer up instead of a American guy. Beef in America has become a scary massed produced thing we are all very lucky to have American Kobe available from the few small ranches that have invested tons of time and money to produce it. Smaller ranches raise beef properly and do not add pink slime and other things to their beef.

rock.winters
rock.winters

Well I have to disagree sinoman, I have had high quality Fullblood Tajima bloodline American wagyu that was in fact very similar to Japanese Kobe. Now let's be honest here does everyone really think the Japanese have magic beans they use to raise their cattle or something.? I don't think so, the only real difference in How they are raised is the Japanese wagyu cattle are kept in smaller confined areas compared to American wagyu whichever arises some question for me about them being humanely treated in japan. In America we have more land so they actually have room to roam a little and graze etc.

Sinoman
Sinoman

I had the opportunity to taste genuine imported Kobe at Megu in New York in 2007.  It was served in two 4 ounce portions, one raw/sashimi style and one cooked medium rare on a slab of oven-heated salt.  Damn was it expensive but the difference between it and American/Australian Kobe/Wagyu is night and day.   It has virtually no connective tissue or toughness (as in you don't need to chew) and the excessive marbling literally makes it melt in your mouth, kind of like meat flavored butter.  No dry-aged prime beef I've ever had tasted as good as that did.  If the opportunity to try it ever arises take it, you won’t be sorry.

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