Wagyu is synonymous with steak. Really, really good steak. But there's wagyu, and then there's Japanese wagyu.
While most diners are aware of the Australian wagyu marbling scale of 1-9+ to indicate fat content, many don’t realise that Kobe Jones uses Master Kobe Wagyu, which goes up to 11+. And fewer people know the difference between Japanese and Australian wagyu.
In Japan, ‘Wagyu’ means ‘Japanese Cow’ and the one you want is the Kuroge Washu or Japanese Black cow. Its ability to marbleise fine-grained, speckled fat internally awards it Japan's highest-possible rating - A5.
Japan considers it so precious that in 1997, it banned the export of its DNA. Research from the Japanese Wagyu Registry Association revealed that 99.9% of all Kuroge Washu cattle are descendants of a single cow named Tajiri. It's her genes that make wagyu so delicious.
In Japan, all A5 wagyu comes from the Kuroge Washu breed, specifically the Tajima strain, and the animal must be raised and slaughtered in Hyogo prefecture. It's called Kobe beef because Kobe is the capital of Hyogo.
Just like champagne has to be made from a specific place in France, real Kobe beef can only come from Kobe in Japan. The taste, texture and quality are affected by the soil, climate and conditions the cows are raised in.
Kobe Jones, which loves Kobe beef so much it named itself after it, imports real Kobe beef from Japan. "We use Ito wagyu which comes from the Ito prefecture. In Japan, people talk about the prefecture first, then the cut and then the grade," says Paul Misan, CEO of the Australian Restaurant Group, which runs Kobe Jones.
"ITO wagyu is rated the best in the world and has only been allowed to be exported from Japan in the last four months. The Japanese have been doing this for hundreds of years, they've developed and streamlined the breeding process so the cows have a lot of fat.
Australia breeds very good wagyu, but Ito wagyu is a very specialised, high quality product."
Kobe Jones serves Australian wagyu sirloin from AA5-AA9+, with AA indicating it is export grade. But the pinnacle is the Ito fillet Japanese grade 5 - the highest rating in Japan - cooked at the table over a hot rock. A server cooks it the perfect medium rare, allowing that prized fat to melt just enough to remain tender and reward diners with the mouth feel that makes wagyu what it is.
Kobe Jones Sydney is located at 27 Lime Street, Sydney.
Kobe Jones Sydney – Lunch and Dinner 7 days a week.
Phone: (02) 9299 5290 or book online at www.kobejones.com.au