If you’ve ever had a serious discussion about meat with the steak aficionado in your life, wagyu beef likely came up. Wagyu has a reputation as a luxurious ingredient with a rich, umami flavor and a decadent, melt-in-your-mouth texture that stands out even among high-end steaks. Authentic wagyu beef carries a very high price and hasn’t been available in the United States for long, lending it an air of mystery that only increases its appeal.
We’re all for a good mystery, but we believe Americans deserve to try this Japanese delicacy for themselves. Wagyu is a form of beef, so you can use it to elevate commonplace dishes like hamburgers and meatballs to make it more accessible. Alternatively, you can explore the many recipes developed around the unique flavor profile of wagyu beef, many of which incorporate other high-end ingredients that you might not get to use very often, such as specialty mushrooms, fruit jams, garlic butter, wine pairings, and truffles. Either way, the unique taste and tenderness of exquisitely marbled wagyu beef makes for an unrivaled eating experience.
Of course, you’ll have to find a source for wagyu beef before indulging in its luscious flavor. Hall Farmstead is a Kentucky-based cattle rancher dedicated to raising the best cattle from Japan, making our Japanese American wagyu a savory delight sure to please. All Hall Farmstead Artisan Wagyu cattle are DNA-tested and tracked for authenticity, repeatability, and consistency, ensuring every cut of beef exceeds expectations. Keep reading to learn more about the unique properties of wagyu beef and what makes our Japanese American wagyu stand out from the herd!
What is Japanese Wagyu beef?
Japanese wagyu beef is a term used to describe meat from four types of cattle: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. In fact, wagyu is the Japanese word for cow. The vast majority of wagyu beef comes from the Japanese Black breed, with the other three accounting for less than 10% of the global supply according to most estimates. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that Japanese Black cattle provide the best steaks. For example, Japanese Brown cattle (alternatively called Japanese Red or Akaushi) are known as the Emperor’s Breed for their superlative quality.
The unique taste of wagyu beef is a direct result of the history of Japan. Before the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan was effectively isolated from the rest of the world and local cattle were never cross-bred with others. Breeding cattle wasn’t a top priority immediately after the Meiji Restoration either, but became more widespread as ranchers realized foreign cattle could improve the quality of their stock. This practice stopped abruptly in 1910 when the ranchers discovered that foreign breeds produced steak of a lesser quality.
Farmers didn’t understand the inner workings of genetics back then, and most of the world diluted the best cattle gene pools well before 1868. Japan was unique in that its isolation prevented that dilution and lucked out again when the entire country decided to collectively stop cross-breeding at an opportune moment, preserving some characteristics of foreign breeds in Japanese wagyu while retaining all of the best attributes of native stock. Combined with advanced ranching practices, the result was a luxurious steak far better than the meat served in the rest of the world.
Today, Japanese wagyu is considered a national treasure worth protecting by Japan and is seldom exported to other countries. Furthermore, Japanese wagyu cattle are subjected to strict purity standards to ensure their continued quality. One exception was made in 1994 when a small herd of Japanese wagyu cattle was shipped to the United States by air, laying the foundation of the modern American wagyu beef industry.
The finest American wagyu isn’t purebred by the standards of Japan but instead bred 50/50 with native cattle to create a taste more suited to American palates. Most American wagyu cattle can trace their lineage to the animals that arrived in 1994 to this day, illustrating how difficult it is to add Japanese genetics to beef cattle herds in any other country.
What differentiates wagyu from average beef?
Wagyu beef is the best thanks to a combination of favorable genetics and unique cultivation conditions. As all steak fans know, marbling is the source of flavor and juiciness that meat connoisseurs are looking for. Japanese wagyu cattle have a genetic predisposition to store fat on the inside of their muscles instead of the outside. This intramuscular fat contributes to superb marbling as more of the fat is in the steak you’re eating instead of the slaughterhouse floor. The result is succulent steak where every mouthful is an explosion of delicious juices.
Japanese wagyu cattle are also raised differently from others, contributing to the umami flavor and velvety texture the meat is known for. While it’s largely a myth that Japanese farmers play classical music and provide massages for their cattle, they are raised in as stress-free of an environment as possible. This is important as stress causes the muscles to tense up, making the eventual steak tougher than diners would like. Furthermore, most of the cattle are raised without all of the artificial stuff found in other farming operations.
Similarly, a cattle’s diet will influence the animal’s life and the quality of the carcass. For example, Hall Farmstead carefully administers a regulated diet of grain finished with a proprietary blended recipe including soybeans and corn raised on our land to ensure consistency in taste, marbling, and texture throughout our herd. Our Kentucky-based ranch has a similar climate and soil composition to Kumamoto, Japan, the birthplace of Akaushi cattle. Therefore, raising feed locally ensures that our cattle receive the nutrients they need to thrive. Our cattle are also hydrated with natural spring water to ensure that our Japanese American wagyu provide the best steak our customers could hope for.
Would this beef be a good addition to my diet?
Modern consumers want a great-tasting steak, but many are also conscious about their health. Fortunately, wagyu beef offers numerous health benefits over traditional red meats. First, it contains a higher ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat than most beef. While dietary experts frequently advise against consuming excessive quantities of red meat, this more favorable ratio makes wagyu beef relatively lean and part of a healthy diet. Some studies have even suggested that consuming wagyu may reduce an individual’s risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Cholesterol is also cited as a reason to avoid beef, but again, wagyu is the exception to the rule. Wagyu beef is naturally high in high-density lipoproteins, or HDL cholesterol. HDL is the “good” cholesterol and plays a vital role in eliminating fatty buildup in the arteries, potentially reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure and all of the symptoms associated with hypertension. Wagyu beef is also low in low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. The HDL may even help lower the LDL you might be getting from other dietary sources.
Beef from wagyu cattle offers higher levels of fatty acids such as oleic acid (found in olive oil) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which could help individuals effectively manage their blood pressure. CLA has also been associated with immune system support through preliminary research, though further research is needed to establish a causal relationship. Similarly, wagyu consumption has been linked to anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic benefits though scientists haven’t proven a link or identified the why behind the relationship yet.
The rich flavor of both wagyu is very satisfying, causing most diners to feel sated after consuming fewer calories than they otherwise might. As such, wagyu might even contribute to weight loss. Wagyu comes packed with a higher concentration of high biological proteins and other essential nutrients as well. These health benefits aren’t found in any other red meat.
Is wagyu beef worth the premium price tag?
Wagyu beef is both delicious and nutritious while offering plenty of room for experimentation in the kitchen. Still, some people might look at the price tag and struggle to justify it for a single meal. Is wagyu beef worth the premium? The answer is yes, but only if you’re actually getting wagyu beef.
We aren’t talking about a good steak but a great steak, and a lot of good cuts are marketed under an American wagyu label even if they have no connection to Japan. Therefore, you should always ask about the provenance of wagyu beef rather than trusting a vendor or restaurant’s word. It’s sad to say, but there are a lot of unscrupulous actors out there.
It’s also worth remembering that many top cuts use more exclusive terminology than just wagyu. For example, Kobe beef refers to wagyu produced in the city of Kobe. Kobe has stricter quality standards than the rest of Japan and meat produced there is undersold if it just carries a Japanese wagyu label. Similarly, the premium Japanese American wagyu we produce contains a certified Akaushi ancestry that’s a step above many other American wagyu beef products.
Is it hard to find wagyu beef?
As noted above, Japan rarely lets cattle leave the country outside partnerships with a few international fine dining restaurants, so finding purebred Japanese wagyu is difficult and extremely expensive. Fortunately, you don’t have to import anything for an authentic wagyu experience. American wagyu farms have transformed that small herd of cattle from 1994 into thousands of cattle raised throughout the country, with quality assurance handled by the American Wagyu Association (AWA). The taste of American wagyu is designed to appeal to American preferences, with a slightly beefier taste than equivalent cuts from Japan.
Australian wagyu is also a popular option with genetics that can be traced back to Japan, but American wagyu tends to be substantially more affordable than importing something from Australia. Some diners also find that Australian wagyu isn’t as tender as other types of wagyu because the cattle have been bred with other breeds. Australian cuts tend to be a little smaller as well, so you might not get the same value for your money.
Since American wagyu is raised domestically, you won’t have to worry about supply chain issues compromising the quality of your dinner or the ability to access delicious food. Similarly, cattle ranchers such as Hall Farmstead are American-owned and operated businesses dedicated to improving our local economies. Our neighbors are like family to us.
Why is Hall Farmstead wagyu beef exceptional?
Most American wagyu has a 50/50 genetic makeup between Japanese and American Black Angus cattle, and the result is a rich, flavorful steak that still delivers the beefy flavor Americans expect. However, Hall Farmstead decided that diners deserve something closer to the original Japanese wagyu experience. As such, all Hall Farmstead Artisan Wagyu cattle have a minimum 15/16 Japanese Akaushi genetics, leading to a richer, decadent dining experience.
We’re also a relatively small company that still believes in providing every customer with a personalized experience, whether that means sharing recipes with first-time buyers or exchanging grilling tips with a seasoned grill master. You won’t get the same experience or quality from a big-box retailer, and we’re nearly as proud of that fact as we are of our steak.
Our experts sampled wagyu beef from around the world before choosing Japanese Akaushi cattle as the base of our product, and we have never once regretted that decision. You could buy wagyu beef elsewhere, but you won’t find a better value than Hall Farmstead and our scrumptious Japanese American wagyu.
What is the best way to enjoy your wagyu?
Wagyu beef has a well-deserved reputation as a high-end ingredient, and some first-timers might be intimidated by it. Fortunately, the beauty of wagyu beef is that it’s so good it doesn’t need too much help. Make sure you get a great sear so your steak has a perfectly caramelized crust locking all of the flavor and juiciness in. Season both sides with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to bring out the rich, umami flavor of the meat, and avoid heavy marmalades and overpowering spices for the whole experience. If you want, you could also try subtle herbs such as thyme and rosemary.
The exquisite marbling of wagyu beef means that it cooks faster than your typical steak even if it doesn’t look that different, and you do not want to overcook it. An undercooked steak can always be thrown back on the grill or in the skillet, but an overcooked steak will lose the signature buttery flavor and velvety texture that wagyu is known for. We advise trying to slightly undercook your steak to avoid disappointment and adjusting as necessary. Medium-rare is considered the ideal doneness, with medium and above compromising what makes wagyu beef so fantastic.
Amateur chefs sometimes underestimate the importance of resting steak before cutting into it, and the extensive marbling of our Japanese American wagyu makes proper resting even more important. Resting allows juices to spread evenly throughout the steak, ensuring that every bite delivers a memorable experience. That’s exactly what you want!
We often recommend trying our wagyu plain at first to better understand its unique flavor, but light side dishes can also enhance the experience. Beverages like red wine and an after-dinner sorbet are two great compliments to the unique flavor of wagyu beef.
Learn more about Japanese American wagyu
Farming has been a constant in the Hall family for generations, and our founder Greg Hall realized his lifelong dream to bring farming back into his life in October of 2015 when the first grouping of Akaushi cattle arrived at Hall Farmstead. His goal wasn’t just to become a wagyu cattle farmer, but to build a brand to endure time while establishing a marketplace business involving his family and the broader community. He also wanted to establish Japanese beef cattle ranching in Monroe County, Kentucky, because the environmental conditions are so close to Kumamoto, Japan.
Hall Farmstead has the same goals today. All Hall Farmstead Artisan wagyu cattle are DNA-tested and tracked for authenticity, repeatability, and consistency, ensuring all of our cuts exceed the expectations of our customers. We also make it easy to purchase Japanese American wagyu with one-time orders and a subscription service. Subscribers receive access to exclusive cuts you cannot buy anywhere else, and shipments may include sirloin, filet, rib eye, New York Strip, and more. First-time subscribers receive sign-up bonuses including an extra pound of steak and two pounds of ground wagyu, all delivered straight to your door quarterly or monthly for your convenience.
If you’re ready to experience the unique umami flavor and silk-like texture of wagyu beef, Hall Farmstead is the only name you need to know. Our premium Japanese American wagyu is marbled to perfection and jam-packed with taste, juiciness, and nutrients for a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience!