Japanese A5 Wagyu
Frequently Asked Questions
About our A5 Wagyu from Japan
Q: What is Wagyu? What is A5?
Wagyu is a term that literally means “Japanese cow” and is the name given to cattle breeds developed over centuries in Japan. A5 is the highest possible quality rating awarded by the Japanese government. The letters (A, B, or C) refer to “yield” – farmers care more about that than eaters. The numbers (1-5) refer to quality, measuring marbling and three other traits. Check out our wagyu infographic, as well as our post about the myths and facts of wagyu.
Q: Does Crowd Cow really source their A5 Wagyu directly from Japan?
A: Yes! We are unique in that we work directly with producers in Japan and do not rely on beef brokers, importers or middle-men. Read about Our Journey to the Inside of The Japanese Beef World and check out our video about Japan’s luxury beef brands.
Q: How does this A5 Wagyu compare to authentic Kobe Beef from Japan?
A: This beef comes from the same breed as Kobe Beef (Kuroge Washu) but from different parts of Japan. This beef is also rated higher, at A5 only, whereas Kobe Beef can come from cattle which have rated at A4 or A5. A5 Wagyu is a higher guarantee of quality.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: The cost of our A5 Wagyu is a fraction of what you would pay at one of the few steakhouses in America that are offering the real thing like we are. Prices will vary by cut, and will be posted at the time of sale.
Q: What is the thickness of the steaks?
A: Our steaks will be cut in the exact style and tradition of Japanese steakhouses. That means the Rib Steaks will be cut approximately ¾” thick, as will the Strip/Sirloin steaks; and the Tenderloin steaks will be 1½” - 2” thick. As you’re probably thinking right now, this is thinner than a traditional American steak, and the reason is that Japanese cuisine simply has a different tradition. We want to be true to that. Read more about Japanese style cuts here.
Q: How will my order be delivered?
A: All orders will be packaged with dry ice and delivered frozen in an insulated container. These are easily defrosted, which in no way affects the quality of the beef.
Q: I can cook a ribeye on the grill blind-folded, but have never cooked A5 Wagyu. I’m afraid I’m going to mess up a very nice and expensive piece of meat. Help!
A: Have no fear. Acceptance of the difference in cooking style is the first step! It means you can do this! Is it different? Yes. Is it difficult? No! In fact, Wagyu beef is one of the simplest types of beef to prepare — You’ll see.
We’ve put together some videos on properly defrosting and cooking your Japanese A5 Wagyu, so that you experience this steak properly. See How to Prepare and Enjoy A5 Wagyu.
Q: What is your sales policy?
A: All sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.
About Kobe Beef
Q: Are Kobe and Wagyu beef the same?
A: Wagyu just means “Japanese cow.” There are 6 breeds of Wagyu and 4 of them are native. Of these, the Kuroge Washu breed is unique in its ability to produce richly marbled beef, the best of which is rated A5.
“Kobe Beef” is a brand name that producers and retailers can pay to use only if the meat was raised in Hyogo Prefecture and qualifies by breed (Kuroge Washu) and rating (A4 and above). In other words, you can also get Wagyu of the same breed and equal (or higher) quality other parts of Japan, it just can’t qualify for the particular Kobe brand name.
Q: Is Kobe beef in the US real?
A: If you see the word “Kobe” on a menu or in a store, it’s almost certainly not Kobe Beef (the brand of beef from Japan) nor is it even Kuroge Washu (the premium breed of Wagyu from Japan) nor A5 Wagyu (the highest rating). Only a handful of restaurants feature Kobe Beef or real A5 Wagyu from Japan.
Q: What are the 8 restaurants that sell Kobe beef?
A: Actually there are now 21 restaurants that serve Kobe Beef (the real thing, not the fake stuff).
These are: The Wynn in Las Vegas, 212 Steakhouse in NYC, Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino and San Francisco, Shibumi in Los Angeles, Arsenal in San Francisco, Bazaar Mar in Miami, Bazaar Meat in Las Vegas, MGM in Las Vegas, Nick&Sam’s Steakhouse in Houston, RPM Steak in Chicago, B+B Butchers + Restaurant in Texas, Jean Georges Beverly Hills, Gibsons Italia in Chicago, Castle Hotel & Spa in NYC, OMAKASE in San Francisco, MINIBAR by José Andrés in Washington DC, and Roka Akor in Chicago and Houston.
Keep in mind this doesn’t mean it will necessarily be on the menu at any given time.
The Wynn resort in Las Vegas features A5 Wagyu from Japan for $640 to $880 per pound.
Q: What is “American-style Kobe beef,” or “American Kobe?”
A: Frankly, the term doesn’t mean much. At best it’s a slick marketing trick to try to get you to pay a lot more for something that’s not really worth the money. If you want real Kobe Beef, head to one of the restaurants above or look for “A5 Wagyu” and make sure it’s coming from Japan.
There’s a huge difference between Kuroge Washu that’s been bred, raised, inspected and rated A5 in Japan versus anything you might find in the USA, especially Angus-Wagyu crossbred beef (“Wangus”).
Wangus can certainly be delicious beef, but it can’t touch the marbling, umami or overall quality of an A5 Wagyu from Japan. That’s because the gene pool of Kuroge Washu in the USA is quite narrow to begin with since Japan banned all DNA exports years ago, and only a small quantity ever got out of the country in the first place. Not only that, the Japanese have mastered the craft of producing A5 Wagyu as a high art over many decades. That expertise, experience and community does not exist outside of Japan.
A5 Wagyu from Japan is decadent meat – a rich, marbled, umami work of art that costs a pretty penny – an experience and a meal. The way to think about Angus-Wagyu is totally different: “like Angus, but may be even more marbled than prime.”
Q: Is Kobe Beef in the U.S. fake?
A: “Basically” yes when you consider the sheer number of times “Kobe” appears on some mystery beef that is certainly not actually Kobe Beef. See above for a definition of Kobe Beef and for a list of the 21 restaurants that actually do carry authentic Kobe Beef from time to time.
Q: Is all Kobe Beef grass-fed?
A: Almost all wagyu in Japan consume grass (roughage such as hay, rice straw, or silage) for the majority of their lives, but are grain-finished (cereals such as corn or soybean meal) for the last two months, or in some cases, longer. Due to its unique genetics, Wagyu is an excellent source of essential fatty acids such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) as compared to other breeds, even though it is grain-finished.
Q: Why are Kobe Beef and A5 Wagyu so marbled?
A: There are many factors that contribute to the intense marbling that Kobe beef and A5 Wagyu are known for. First is the breed of cattle used — Kuroge Wagshu — which has a unique genetic predisposition for marbleizing its fat inside the muscle tissue. Second, is the environment in which the animals are raised. Japanese ranchers raise Wagyu cattle with the intent of minimizing stress as much as possible. Less stress means more fat and more tender meat. Lastly, they are fed with a high-calorie diet consisting of roughage and grains so that the animals gain weight.
A5 Wagyu is as much an experience as it is a food.