We want to start this blog writing about something we really love, something we want to shed light on: What is exactly the Kobe beef? Are we talking about the same thing if we say `Wagyu´ or if we say `Kobe?
Let´s start saying that, if you want to export Kobe meat from Japan to whatever other country, the export company must be part of the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association. This entity is the only one authorized to allow companies to export Kobe meat, through the certifications that the organization itself issues.
This certification is a gold trophy for the companies that have it. The restaurant Sinatra Ya holds it, since its owner, Jay Joden, is a partner of the export company Tajimaya UK, which supplies our place with authentic Wagyu meat and Kobe.
The certification, displayed in our restaurant showcase, gives absolute confidence to our customers, and clearly shows that at Sinatra Ya we serve authentic Japanese meat from Wagyu and Kobe.
Regarding to beef, there is a general confusion in Spain, where there is a generalized idea that both meats are the same. Here, we will clarify that all Kobe meat comes from Wagyu (the Japanese cattle breed), but not all Wagyu is Kobe.
The Kobe meat is certified by the Japanese government from the moment the animal is slaughtered, after verifying that this cow surpasses the strict requirements imposed by the authorities of the country.
In the video produced by journalists from the web SinFiltros (linked here and at the bottom of this post) about lies and truths about Kobe, you can see all the information related to this desired meat. This is a research report with qualified information sources – Jay Joden, owner of Sinatra Ya, and our chef Saito, among others – to clarify some points in this regard.
In addition to all the information you can find in the video, the first thing we should point out is that the Kobe meat is the origin of the Wagyu cattle, that must be born in this region, within the Hyogo prefecture.
When the Kobe beef overcomes the aforementioned controls, the Japanese government identifies the meat as it follows:
–Nogujiku Stamp: Stamp with chrysanthemum shape on the meat.
–Certificate of authenticity: Diploma on paper, signed and stamped by the Japanese Government.
The farms of Wagyu
Jay Joden, owner of Sinatra Ya, maintains Wagyu farms in both Kagoshima prefecture and the department of Kobe (Hyogo prefecture), the only region in the world where -as we have already said – we can find the Wagyu whose meat can be certified as authentic Kobe.
Jay Joden also has many agreements, participations and special contracts with many farms in Japan.
How the Kobe (and Wagyu) arrives to Sinatra Ya?
To provide all the information to our customers and by the transparency of information that is convenient for all, we will explain how to get the authentic Wagyu and Kobe meat that we serve at Sinatra Ya.
Sinatra Ya brings to Madrid Wagyu meat and Kobe meat (strictly speaking) endowed with all the certifications. Both meats arrive from Japan via London, where Jay Joden runs the restaurant Tokyo Sukiyaki Tei, which is supplied with meat from Wagyu and Kobe through the distributor Tajimaya UK, of which Jay is a shareholder.
On the website of the Association for the Promotion of Kobe, you can identify all the certified exporters of Kobe meat, being exclusively those that appear on the list who are authorized to export it.
As you can see in the following image, the distributor Tajimaya UK distributes Kobe to London, from where the two European restaurants of Jay Joden, the Tokyo Sukiyaki Tei in London and the Sinatra Ya in Madrid are supplied.
It is a long and expensive process with very strict controls and restrictions, which means that not everyone can or wants to access it.
Also for this reason, the authentic Kobe meat represents a very small amount in terms of kilos / year, which makes it a true luxury that the Japanese government keeps as its greatest gastronomic treasure in terms of meat.
The whole Wagyu… is Wagyu?
Once clarified the process that allows Sinatra Ya to serve the authentic Kobe beef, it is also appropriate to consider how the supply of authentic Japanese Wagyu beef works.
Wagyu meat doesn’t have as many restrictions as Kobe’s, but the Japanese government also keeps very strict control of these cattle. Because of this, the Wagyu breed is not losing its authenticity, nor its purity, something that is not guaranteed in farms located outside of Japan, where the breeding of cattle of this strain lacks the rigorous ordinary control of the Japanese authorities.
Therefore, the meat obtained from the crossing of this breed with other homegrown cattle from other countries is often distributed as pure Wagyu meat. It is well known that in the United States, the Wagyu is crossed with the Angus cattle, a process that causes the loss of the uniqueness of Wagyu meat.
That is no Kobe… It´s fraud!
As we have said before, we share with you the research report made by Sin Filtros. Under the title “It is not Kobe, it is a fraud“, the journalists shed light on a topic that has generated controversy and misinformation in the last times. We hope you like it.
As you can see, Kobe and Wagyu are quite different concepts. In Sinatra Ya we are specialists in both types of meat, which we serve daily in our restaurant. Now you just need to come, try it and decide if it’s worth it or not.