Q&A: Wagyu Beef With Yukmi Song

If you’ve tasted the decadent delicacy that is Wagyu beef, chances are you know what all the fuss is about. And if you haven’t, you really couldn’t possibly understand why people get so passionate about a piece of meat.

But that’s the thing, it’s not just a piece of meat–it’s something different entirely.

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Yukmi Song, of Kagoshima Meat, about the lovely product that is Wagyu. I also got the chance to taste some, and me oh my, does it live up to the hype.

BTRtoday (BTR): Can you tell me a little bit about Wagyu beef?

Yukmi Song (YS): Wagyu beef is an exquisite kind of beef, and all the cattle have to be born and raised in Japan. People say there is Wagyu from Australia, I’m sorry, but they can not be Wagyu. Wa means Japan, Gyu means beef or cattle, so it has to be from Japan.

BTR: Sometimes people use the name to try to sell it?

YS: Exactly. Yes. Also, they import it–the Wagyu itself–from Japan, and move them to their own region. Sometimes what happens is that they mix the Japanese Wagyu with something else, a different breed. Then, when they’re born, they’re not Wagyu! They’re something else, so you can’t call it a Wagyu beef.

BTR: What makes Wagyu beef so special?

YS: Now, what’s special is that the marbling is very beautiful. That’s how they grade. We season with just salt and pepper, that’s enough. Usually with Wagyu beef, people associate that with Kobe Wagyu. That’s a brand, coming from [the] Kobe region.

BTR: Those are the cows that are massaged, right? Or is that a myth?

YS: Myth!

BTR: How can you tell what Wagyu is authentic?

YS: Every single calf is registered and given a social security number, kind of, when they are born. So you can trace their information online.

You can learn what they’ve eaten, how old they were, and also their lineage. That’s very important–that their parents are healthy, so they don’t have any weird gene or DNA in the meat. We are very selective about parents as well. That’s why the meat is so beautiful.

BTR: It’s quite expensive, is it not?

YS: Yes, 60 to 70 dollars a pound, depending on the market.

BTR: But, it’s worth it.

YS: Yes, yes it’s worth it.