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Kobe beef is a premium meat that comes exclusively from the Tajima strain of Wagyu cattle raised in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. However, not all Tajima-gyu cattle qualify as Kobe beef - only those that meet the specific quality criteria set out by the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association are given the prestigious title.
Calves are raised with utmost care and given only the finest feed - a combination of rice straw, maize, barley, and other cereals - and fresh, clean water to drink. To achieve the ideal quality and texture, their meat is matured for a minimum of 28 months and an average of 32 months.
Only virgin Tajima cows or bullocks that meet certain carcass grading and other conditions are entitled to the name "Kobe beef". These criteria include a Beef Marbling Standard (BMS) score of 6 or higher, a Yield score (percentage of edible parts) of A or B, a gross carcass weight of 470kg or less, and fine meat texture and excellent firmness. Thus, Kobe beef is the result of a rigorous selection process that ensures the highest quality of meat for consumers.
BMS (Beef Marbling Standard) of 6 or higher
Yield score (percentage of edible parts) of A or B
Gross carcass weight of 470kg or less
Fine meat texture and excellent firmness
Kobe beef is renowned for its fine, delicate meat, which features a high degree of fat marbling that melts at low temperatures. This, combined with the tender fibers, creates a uniquely refined sweetness and aroma.
The origins of Kobe beef can be traced back to 1868, when the Japanese government opened the port of Kobe for foreign trade. Kobe quickly became a cosmopolitan town, attracting many foreigners from around the world who settled there. It is said that the first Tajima cattle were eaten in Kobe by an Englishman, who convinced local farmers to give him a cow that had been used for various agricultural tasks. He was reportedly so impressed with the quality of the meat that he insisted on more, and soon foreign ships entering the port of Kobe began requesting deliveries of cattle and beef. The beef became known as "Kobe Beef", and today it remains a highly sought-after delicacy, enjoyed by countless American politicians, Hollywood stars, international royals, and other celebrities when they visit Japan.
If you're interested in trying authentic Kobe beef, be sure to visit a Kobe designated registration store. These stores are certified by the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association and guarantee the authenticity of their beef.
Be aware that there are many fake Kobe beef products on the market, and any shops or restaurants not registered on the association's website may be serving counterfeit beef.