It's the Olympic Games you've never heard of. Since 1966, Japan's beef industry has held a nationwide competition every five years to crown the best beef in the country. It's called Zenkoku Wagyu Noryku Kyoshin-kai (全国和牛能力共進会) but it's known also as "The Wagyu Olympics."
There are 11 prize categories, one of the more interesting of which measures the quality of the fats (looking for things like the health-promoting and umami-generating oleic acid). There's also an overall winner, based on the average of scores across the categories.
This year's event was held in September in Miyagi Prefecture and brought together over 400,000 people and scores of artisanal and craft beef producers from 39 prefectures.
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Crowd Cow broke into the innermost chambers of the Japanese beef world to become America's first-ever direct sourcer-seller of A5 Wagyu from Japan. Here's the story of how we did it.
There are not a lot of people out there who have tried Japanese A5 Wagyu. But if someone you know has tried it, you've probably heard about it, in the form of happy ranting and raving. And as you can probably tell from the photos, this is not the steak most Americans are used to. Between its through-the-roof marbling levels, and the way it's trimmed into careful, neat blocks, it really doesn't much resemble the New Yorks or Rib Steaks favored in American steakhouses.
And the taste, of course, marks Wagyu as distinct, too (to put it quite mildly). It's a beef so rich and buttery it melts in your mouth. Literally. It's so intense and decadent, in fact, that it's best enjoyed in small bites while sipping something equally rare. It's an experience more than anything else.
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