DISCLAIMER: Don’t worry, we haven’t gone nuts — Hall Farmstead knows it’s “wagyu”. But there’s a ton of information out there that says otherwise, whether the mistake is an “oops” or being unaware of the correct spelling (again, that’s w-a-g-y-u). In this article, we’re going to pepper in some of the more common (and uncommon) misspellings we see. Maybe you’ll recognize a few!
If you’re familiar with high-end, luxury foods, you’ve probably heard of waygu beef. Or are you eating a premium wagu steak? Maybe you’re enjoying wygu beef? Or perhaps you’ve seen waguy steak on the menu at a fancy restaurant? Some sources treat Wagyu as a proper noun and capitalize it, while others are confident that wagyu is correct. But no matter how it’s spelled, everyone can agree that Wagu steaks are delicious with a unique umami flavor, unmatched tenderness, and a decadent texture that simply melts in your mouth.
The proper spelling is wagyu, derived from Japanese and literally translates to Japanese cow. It’s pronounced “Wah-gyoo” and not “Way-goo,” so the spelling makes sense if you sound it out. However, many Americans find “way-goo” easier to pronounce than “wah-gyoo”, which may help explain why fancy restaurants and wagyu vendors alike sometimes use waygu. As a luxurious ingredient that isn’t yet well-known in the United States, vendors might also intentionally misspell wagyu beef to add to its mystique as a foreign item commanding a premium price.
At Hall Farmstead, we don’t believe in intentionally misleading our customers and instead let the quality of our signature Japanese American wagyu deliver value for your money. That’s why all Hall Farmstead Artisan Wagyu cattle are DNA-tested and tracked for authenticity, repeatability, and consistency, ensuring every cut of beef exceeds expectations. However, we aren’t language snobs either. If you want to call the most luscious, tender meat you’ve ever eaten waygu or wagu, we’re perfectly okay with that. Please continue reading to learn more about what wagyu steak is and what differentiates it from the standard offerings in the meat aisle at the grocery store!
What is wagu beef?
Much as people cannot agree on wagyu vs. waygu, the definition of the term is sometimes up for debate. Some sources say that waygu beef refers to any cattle from Japan and the steaks derived from them, while others broaden the definition to include any cattle with some Japanese DNA. A few even try to say that wagyu beef is from Japan while waygu beef is the correct term for meat raised in America, though there’s little support for that theory.
Since wagyu is a Japanese word, Japan’s definition is probably the one to go with. The Japanese consider wagyu beef to be meat derived from one of four cattle breeds: Japanese Black, Japanese Red, Japanese Shorthorn, and Japanese Polled. These four breeds have unique genetics stemming from Japan’s history of isolation from the rest of the world and the abrupt decision to stop cross-breeding cattle in 1910, creating waygu steaks with superior marbling, exceptional juiciness, and a rich flavor not found in any other red meat.
The reason for the superiority of Waygu steak is simple. Waygu breeds have a genetic predisposition to store fat inside of their muscles instead of outside them. This higher concentration of intermuscular fat means superior marbling, a richer flavor, and the unique texture that wygu beef is known for. You may also be familiar with rumors that Japanese ranchers massage their animals daily to make waygu beef more tender, but that’s not true. However, there are special ranching practices to reduce each animal’s stress levels so the meat doesn’t get too tough.
How many different types of waygu are there?
Three types of wagyu beef are broadly recognized: Japanese wagyu, American wagyu, and Australian wagyu steaks. Japanese wagyu is the original form of wagyu and is often pure-blooded, meaning that the steaks are derived from cattle with near-100% genetic purity. The Japanese Meat Grading Association scores each authentic wagyu carcass from A1 to A5, with A5 wagyu earning the best possible scores in every category.
Evaluators look at the area between the sixth and seventh ribs and score carcasses based on yield (the ratio of edible meat to the total weight of the carcass), Beef Marbling Score (BMS), Beef Color Standard (BCS), Beef Fat Standard (BFS), firmness, and texture. Certain areas of Japan have even stricter standards of waygu beef evaluation, with Kobe beef standing out as top of the line.
Japan considers Japanese wagu cattle a national treasure and rarely ships them outside the country, but an exception was made in 1994 when American ranchers were allowed to import a small herd. American waygu beef was created by breeding this herd and its descendants with popular American breeds such as Prime Angus.
Australian Wagyu steak also traces its genetics back to Japanese cattle. The cuts tend to be smaller than either Japanese or American wagu and the meat isn’t as rich or tender, but it’s still considered a high-end ingredient. Considering the cost of importing Australian waguy steak and the lack of a clear quality advantage, Americans generally have little incentive to choose the Australian version.
What’s the difference between Japanese wagu and American wagu?
Japanese wagyu is decadently rich, especially at higher grades, and it’s frequently served in small portions as a result. It also has a luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth texture and an extremely savory flavor called umami that’s reminiscent of foods such as mushrooms and parmesan cheese. However, the umami flavor of authentic Japanese wagyu far exceeds any similar flavors you might find in other foods.
Some Americans find Japanese waygu too rich and dislike the relatively small percentage of meat on their plates. American wygu beef is usually a 50/50 mix between Japanese waygu cattle and American breeds such as black Angus, giving the meat a beefier flavor that many find more palatable. The Japanese ancestry still makes American waygu steak richer with a silky mouthfeel, but not quite to the same extent.
At Hall Farmstead, our Wagyu far surpass typical American wagyu proportions. Our cattle are 15/16 Japanese Akaushi Wagyu, providing a richer meal than most American waygu while retaining the beefy flavor Americans expect. The resulting Japanese American waygu is scrumptious enough for any special occasion yet accessible to the whole family.
How should I cook a waygu steak?
One of the great waygu debates is whether it’s best prepared in the skillet or on the grill. Cooking on a skillet gives the chef more control over the meat, making it easier to achieve a perfectly cooked wagyu steak with the juiciness and tenderness you expect. However, throwing a waygu steak on the grill makes it easier to get a great sear that perfectly caramelizes the crust to lock all of those delectable juices in. Grilling also imparts a charred, smoky flavor that enhances the flavor of wagyu, while gorgeous grill marks enhance the visual appeal of any wagyu steak.
You should choose whichever methodology most appeals to you as there are few wrong answers when it comes to delicious, tender wagyu steaks. Either way, you’ll want to season both sides with sea salt and fresh pepper to bring out the steak’s flavor. Herbs such as rosemary or garlic butter can also elevate a wagyu meal, but you’ll want to avoid heavy marmalades and overly aggressive seasonings that could overwhelm the delicate taste of waygu beef. You’ll also want to shoot for medium-rare. There’s no saving overcooked wagu, but undercooked meat can be put back on the heat.
If you want to try something adventurous, you could go for the sous vide method. Sous vide, or Low-Temperature, Long-Time (LTLT) cooking, entails placing your waygu in an airtight bag and submerging it in a hot water bath. Your waygu beef won’t get any hotter than the water, ensuring that you don’t overcook it. The method is also great for retaining moisture while ensuring the inside reaches your desired temperature. You’ll still need to season your waygu and sear it using another heat source though. Some may scoff at sous vide wagyu, but it’s a fantastic way to ensure your meal doesn’t disappoint.
No matter what you decide to do, never underestimate the importance of resting your waygu steak. Resting ensures that the juices spread evenly throughout the meal, something that only becomes more important considering the exquisite marbling of waygu.
What should I serve with wygu steak?
Whether you’re eating a tasty wagyu steak or elevating an American classic with a waygu hamburger, complementing it the right way will ensure that you enjoy a memorable meal. The rich flavor of waygu beef means that sides should be on the lighter side, so consider a salad or roasted green vegetables like spinach or Brussels sprouts. Potatoes with crispy skins and an earthy flavor also offer a nice contrast to the richness of waygu whether baked or smashed. Mushrooms have a savory flavor that works well with wagyu beef as well.
Of course, you don’t have to eat all of your sides with your waygu steak. A light appetizer such as charcuterie including cheeses such as aged cheddar, fresh fruits such as grapes, and a thinly-sliced baguette is a great way to begin your meal. Likewise, sorbet or any citrus-based dessert makes for a nice palette cleanser after a luxurious wagyu steak.
The right drink can make any meal, and the unique flavor of waygu gives you some options. Sommeliers generally recommend red wines with high levels of tannins because their bold flavor balances rich, buttery beef nicely. Cranberry juice also has high levels of tannins if you’re looking for a similar effect without the alcohol. Alternatively, dark beers can stand up to the rich flavor of waygu while club soda with a squeeze of lemon or lime can help break up the fattiness of the meat.
Since you’re the one eating it, you should be comfortable with every aspect of your meal. If you want to enjoy something rich with your waygu beef, go for it!
Is waguy steak worth the premium price tag?
Everybody is on a budget, and spending lavishly on a single meal can feel wrong no matter how fantastic the rich flavor of wagyu beef is. That said, everyone deserves to have a succulent piece of waygu steak melt in their mouth. The key is to make sure you’re getting value for your money, which means purchasing authentic wagyu and not allowing anything to go to waste.
Between the multiple types of wagyu and the lack of consensus on precisely what the term means in the United States, it’s far too easy for untrustworthy merchants and restaurants to sell decent beef as waguy steak or wagu steaks. Paying a premium for an inferior product won’t feel good, so you should always verify the provenance of wagyu before buying it.
Once you’ve sourced wagyu from a reliable vendor, we recommend making wagyu tallow to get more out of it. Tallow is reduced beef fat melted down and stored for cooking purposes. Waygu tallow imparts the unique flavor of waygu to nearly any dish, turning even a simple egg into a decadent dining experience.
Wagyu tallow is expensive to purchase, but making it yourself is easy. First, carefully cut the pure fat from the sides of your wagyu steak before cooking it. Chop that fat into small pieces and place it in a dry cast iron or stainless steel pan to melt it down. Waygu fat has a very low melting point, so use the lowest heat setting available to liquefy it. Once you have a clear liquid (generally 30-40 minutes), carefully pour it into a jar and store it on your shelf - no refrigeration needed!
What are the nutritional benefits of waygu beef?
Wygu beef is exquisite, but many Americans are watching what they eat and might be leery of red meat. Luckily, the superior marbling of wagyu steak offers many health benefits that you won’t find with other types of red meat. Waygu is naturally high in good HDL cholesterol and low in LDL cholesterol, allowing it to have a net positive impact on a diner’s cholesterol levels. Similarly, waygu consumption has been linked to a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Wagyu beef is also rich in fatty acids like heart-healthy oleic acid and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), both of which may help lower cholesterol and offer immune system support. Like other forms of beef, wagyu is an excellent source of proteins, amino acids, and other essential nutrients. Preliminary research has also linked waygu beef consumption to breast cancer prevention and anti-inflammatory benefits, though further research is needed to prove them.
The rich flavor of wygu beef supports smaller portion sizes, making it easier to consume fewer calories in pursuit of weight loss. Remember that waygu tallow we discussed above? It offers all of the same health benefits as waygu beef.
What makes Hall Farmstead the best place to buy wagyu steaks?
Wagu steaks are not all created equal. Our ranch in Monroe County, Kentucky, shares its latitude with Kumamoto, Japan: the birthplace of Japanese Red wagyu cattle. Japanese Red cattle are also called Japanese Brown, Kumamoto Red Wagyu, Akaushi, and the Emperor’s Breed, the latter name derived from its superior taste and marbling standing out from even other waygu cattle. Our herd’s genetics start from the best of the best.
We also feed our cattle grain finished with a proprietary recipe including corn and soybeans grown on our ranch, ensuring consistency in flavor, texture, and tenderness throughout our herd. Our ranch is full of natural springs as well, allowing our animals to hydrate themselves the way nature intended.
Perhaps most importantly, we’re a small company that still believes in providing a personalized experience to every customer. Big chains might see you as nothing more than dollar signs, but we make it our mission to ensure that you make the most of every Japanese American wagyu meal you give us the honor of supplying.
Learn more about us and our Japanese American wagyu
Hall Farmstead was founded by Greg Hall to introduce premium wagyu beef to our community, provide excellent value to our customers, and establish a sustainable business boosting our Monroe County, Kentucky economy. We will gladly put our delicious Japanese-American wagyu up against the finest A5 waygu from Japan. It offers a perfect blend between the rich, luxurious flavor of Japanese Wagu and the beefy flavor of American Wagu. Our Hall Farmstead Artisan Wagyu cattle are also DNA-tested and tracked for authenticity, repeatability, and consistency.
We make it easy for our customers to add the melt-in-your-mouth texture of waygu to their lives with one-time orders and a convenient subscription service. Subscribers can choose to receive mouth-watering wagyu steaks shipped directly to them monthly or quarterly, and first-timers get bonuses such as two pounds of wagyu ground beef and an extra pound of waygu steak at no additional charge. We also offer exclusive cuts of wagyu beef as a perk for our loyal subscribers.Our Japanese American wagyu is a treat whether you’ve seen it spelled waygu, wygu, waguy, or wagu. We encourage you to experience this affordable (and delicious) luxury for yourself today. And remember…it’s “wagyu”.