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Wagyu: In Search of the Best Steak

Since returning to Mckendricks Steak House in October of 2007 I knew I had a lot of work to do. I wanted to transform Mckendricks, return Mckendricks to one of the best steak houses in Atlanta. I wanted to bring Mckendricks to a new level, a level I could not even imagine. I did not know what the outcome would be or what the end result might be but I knew with my determination, ambition and years of knowledge I could bring Mckendricks to a new level. I new this would take time and didn't care how long it took, I was just very eager to start my journey. There were three elements to my plan: 1. Staff- I wanted to surround myself with a great staff, a staff that loves to cook and would one day want to become chefs themselves. 2. Seafood- I new I had to develop a great seafood program and insure I serve only the highest quality of seafood available. 3. Steaks- Find the highest quality steaks I can find and to find the best steak, the ultimate in beef. I tried dry aged prime strips from several companies but did not think they were really any better than the steaks we were serving. I tried American Kobe and American Wagyu but did not really understand what they were all about. I even went to Chops to try their "Genuine Wagyu" (American Wagyu) and decided to test American Wagyu steaks from the exact same company they use. I had trouble selling the steaks and determined they were not much better than the steaks we currently serve. (We serve steaks from Creekstone Farms-- through Consumers Packing Company out of Chicago. Watch their great video here: Fall of 2008, one year later I received a call from Hitoshi Nishikawa with Asia International, Inc and wanted to know if I was interested in purchasing Miyazaki Wagyu from Japan. Wow, my search might have ended. I was so excited I had to sit down and think about this. Wagyu from Japan, lets do some research. I had three areas to research: 1. American Kobe or American Wagyu-American Kobe is actually what is, American Kobe. American Kobe rapidly gained popularity over the past 10 years or so. The term refers to American cattle that has been cross bread with Wagyu cattle from Japan. I have tried this form of Kobe but was not satisfied with the product. A large percentage of restaurants are now serving American Wagyu because of the cost. American Kobe is much cheaper and in return less quality. I even purchased American Kobe and I really did not get the excitement I was looking for.

2. True Kobe Beef. The name Kobe is derived from Kobe, the capital city of the Hyogo prefecture in Japan. It is in this prefecture where a specific breed of Wagyu cattle, called Tirjima, have been raised and selectively bred. Even though these terms are used interchangeably, Kobe beef isn't actually exported out of Japan and the Japanese government strictly regulates the term "Kobe Beef" to Wagyu beef born and slaughtered from the Hyogo prefecture.

Wagyu Cattle

3.Miyazaki Wagyu. The Miyazaki Wagyu brand name can only be applied to black-haired Wagyu species born and raised in Miyazaki Prefecture. Miyazaki Wagyu brand can be assigned only to he top quality 4 - 5 beef marbling score by Japanese Grading association. Miyazaki Prefecture is located southeastern Kyushu Island an area blessed with a temperate climate throughout the year. Clean water and farmland provides the ideal environment to raise Wagyu cattle.

Wagyu Cattle

Miyazaki Wagyu cattle are raised on a family farm and environment. Each animal is given a name and raised with the utmost care. The animals are grain fed for over 650 days and no growth hormones are ever administered. No animal protein and no meat by products are mixed with the food.

Certificate of Authenticity

Certificate of Authenticity for Traceability: With each delivery a certificate is provided with a sixteen-digit cattle ID number for each animal and will trace the genetic lineage of the cattle, birth record and harvest record along with ownership of the animal and farmer.

Miyazaki Wagyu tenderloin at Mckendricks

Biochemistry tests of Wagyu fat indicate that the fat from this breed has a healthier fatty acid profile and an unsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio of 2-to-1, instead of the 1-to1 ratio characteristic of regular beef. Unsaturated fat has a healthier profile for you than saturated fat.

Miyazaki Strip loin

Melting points of saturated fat vs. unsaturated fat is defined by molecular geometrics. The molecular structure of unsaturated fat allows many molecules to be "staked"resulting in a lower melting point. Your body temperature at 98 degrees allows the fat, at a low melting point of 77 degrees, to actually begin dissolving and literally melt in your mouth were as regular beef has a higher melting point so when you put the steak in your mouth the fat does not melt and no flavor is released.

Miyazaki Rib eye

Grading: American beef is rated on a USDA scale of Select, Choice and Prime, Miyazaki Wagyu is not rated on the USDA system because it would require it's own category. Miyazaki Wagyu grading system has three yield grades starting with A, the highest and C the lowest and five quality grades ranging from 5 the highest to 1 the lowest. Wagyu is also assigned a "Beef Marbling Score" which range from BMS 12 being the highest and BMS 1the lowest. This is what you should look for starting with the highest grade. A5 - BMS 8-12 A4 - BMS 5-7 A3 - BMS 3-4 A2 - BMS 2 A1 - BMS 1

Miyazaki Strip loin
Miyazaki Wagyu

As you can see from the picture below which is American Kobe and the picture to the left which is Miyazaki Wagyu, the American Wagyu does not have the fat content like the Miyazaki Wagyu.

Miyazaki Wagyu

I decided to cook the Wagyu on the oak grill. I seasoned the Miyazaki Wagyu with salt and pepper, topped it with seared foie gras, seared oyster mushrooms and a veal demi glace.

Yeah, I decided to get a new plate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Chef Nathan Sanford

Chef Nathan Sanford
Jul 3, 2012 16:36 CDT

Great information. Very well done.


Aug 24, 2010 07:02 CDT

THANK YOU! ive been arguing with fellow culinarians and head chefs for years that the "kobe" sliders and burger meat were getting is american kobe, and no where near the same quality and fat content as the japanese kobe or wagyu or a mishimi beef... i was unaware of miyazaki wagyu, but am now intrigued and must track some down, but now i can use your article as a reference point and point out that i am not in fact crazy and have slight semblance of what im talking about :D

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