Kobe or not Kobe

Wrong Kobe, in more ways than one.

Wrong Kobe, in more ways than one.

The signs were there, if one was enlightened enough to see them. You know you’re in a classy restaurant when the waiter hands you a game piece that reads “DO NOT OPEN” and tells you that you just might win $25,000. Also, this meal was going to be a golden opportunity to earn “triple points.”

Yep. Classy. No John Dory. No risotto. No Gordon Ramsay. Just class.

I ordered the “signature” steak but, alas, it was a rip off. There wasn’t even any writing on it!

I was about to leave to find a real restaurant that served a taco with a strip of bacon or “mighty” wings, but then I noticed something else on the menu.

A “Kobe” burger.

Shit. They sure know how to bring the full-court press. My buttocks clenched, which is just about the only defensive play I know.


According to my sources, there’s no such thing as “Kobe” beef in the United States. So just what the hell was going on here?

Tom’s Recipe #42 – Restaurant Quality Kobe Beef

Open any package of hamburger obtained from any source whatsoever. Carefully portion into two equal amounts. Using precision knife skills label the pile on the left “Kobe” and the pile on the right “choice.”

For variation, the word Kobe may be replaced with any of the following: Premium, Wagyu, Prefecture, Corinthian, Natural, Sustainable, Edible, Domestic, Food-Fed, Life Balanced, etc. The point is to be creative and have fun.

As most any idiot carnivore knows, true Kobe beef comes from Japan and very little of it is actually imported to the United States. Kobe beef refers to cuts of beef from the Tajima strain of wagyu cattle, raised in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, according to very specific rules of OCD beef nerds.

To be considered Kobe beef, all of the following conditions must be met (so says Wikipedia):

  • Tajima cattle born in Hyōgo Prefecture
  • Farm feeding in Hyōgo Prefecture
  • Bullock (steer) or castrated bull, to purify the beef
  • Processed at slaughterhouses in Kobe, Nishinomiya, Sanda, Kakogawa and Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture
  • Marbling ratio, called BMS, of level 6 and above
  • Meat Quality Score of 4 or 5
  • Gross weight of beef from one animal is 470 kg or less

Additionally, the cattle are fed on grain fodder and brushed sometimes for setting fur. The melting point of fat of Kobe beef (Tajima cattle) is lower than common beef fat.

That list contains lots of words and all of them are designed to entice you into hungrily inhaling the namesake animal flesh into your lungs. I don’t know about you but I’m hungry. “Meat quality score of 4 or 5.” Mmmm, that sounds delicious. Let’s eat.

Not so fast, pardner. This here is the United States. How in the name of New York Strip city do we know this is the real McCoy?

I carefully reviewed the menu. The item was named the “American Kobe Burger.” Now wait a cotton-picking minute. There ain’t no such thing!

Lower down the menu was another item, the “Surf & Turf” burger. Apparently a burger with Dungeness crab. Those crazy chefs! It was like a Quick Fire challenge of creativity for my tummy. But, buried amongst the menu hubbub, I again noticed the key Kobe phrase that pays. “American Kobe beef.”

Despite the word “Kobe,” this was apparently not Wagyu imported from Japan. Besides, even these inflated prices weren’t that high. I smelled a rat. Making ratatouille, no doubt.

So, what did the word “American” mean in this context?

“Kobe-style” beef

The increase in popularity of Japanese beef in the United States has led to the creation of “Kobe-style” beef, taken from domestically raised wagyu crossbred with Angus cattle, to meet the demand. Farms in the U.S. and Britain have attempted to replicate the Kobe traditions. US meat producers claim any differences between their less expensive “Kobe-style” beef and true Kobe beef are largely cosmetic. Cuts of U.S. “Kobe-style” beef tend to have darker meat and a bolder flavor.

Source: Wikipedia – Kobe beef

Well now, it all starts to make sense. This isn’t Kobe beef. It’s Kobe-style beef. We just wanted to stick that word “Kobe” in front of your beef hole hoping you might misconstrue the meaning. Just like flavor subtlety. Ya know.

Stop everything. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. No siree!

I’m proud to say I didn’t order the thing that this particular establishment described as Kobe. Nope. Not me. I won’t be outsmarted.

I ordered the chicken strips instead.

Like I said, this place was classy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to redeem my points and see if I won $25,000. I’ll try to remember all y’all little people when I’m ridin’ around in a pink F-150. Yee haw!

7 responses

  1. Wash it down with an American Bordeaux or my favorite oxymoronic drink, a Belgian India Pale Ale.


    1. Good plan! Damn you are a genius. When the people who want to feed me are willing to lie and/or use meaningless marketing words it’s almost enough to make me wonder what they might secretly be doing with my food. Naw. That’s stupid. I should just trust that they have my best interests at heart and shove anything they put in front of my face right down my hungry hole. I’m sure it’ll all work out in the end.


      1. If you have trouble getting the food out the other end, just realize that a French catheter is not actually from France at all. Also, Ex-Lax isn’t manufactured anywhere near the airport in Los Angeles.


  2. I’m glad you passed the test. Congrats!
    Kob(e)ayashi Maru needed you as its captain.


    1. I don’t believe in the no Gin scenario. And in the future, there’s no meat. Only replicated protein. Enjoy Kobe while you can!


    1. You’re just now catching on? What was it that gave it away?


Bringeth forth thy pith and vinegar

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