"Kobe" beef?
April 17, 2012 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Think you've enjoyed the well-marbled splendor of Kobe beef? If you don't live in Japan, think again. And Wagyu doesn't count either. But that's okay. It's what the U.S. government wants you to think. A three part Forbes piece on "Kobe" beef.
posted by disillusioned (136 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
Eponysterical.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:32 PM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is this something I'd need to be in the 1% to understand?
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:33 PM on April 17, 2012


Don't have a cow, man!
posted by fairmettle at 3:33 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I once ate Wagyu meat "according to the Japanese Kobe method" from Chile (!) in Stockholm and it tasted like any other goddamn beef only 8x more expensive. Most disappointing meal ever.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:40 PM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is this something I'd need to be in the 1% to understand?

No, actually, and that's the point. The Kobe beef that gets marketed at places like Applebee's is not the near-mystical Wagyu beef, where according to tradition (and possibly good marketing) the the cows live a life of massages and beer.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:42 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah then the waitress brought us hot wine!
posted by hal9k at 3:43 PM on April 17, 2012


Better quality sparkling wines from America won't label themselves as "champagne" simply because it closes them off from the export market.

In a time of PIPA and SOPA and CISPA, it's amazing that a legislature hellbent on protecting Hollywood's IP cares so little about the IP of the rest of the world.
posted by Slothrup at 3:44 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. I thought this was common knowledge.
posted by Kevtaro at 3:44 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are no massages and beer for genuine Kobe cattle, either. Just strict bloodline controls and exposure to the water/grass/etc in the region.

If they were getting beers and massages, I would be imitating a Japanese beef cow right now!
posted by broadway bill at 3:45 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


We went to a nice local sushi restaurant. Work was paying so I decided to splurge and order the "kobe sashimi" plate. The waiter paused for a moment, and said: "actually, you should order the elk sashimi instead. It's better than the kobe." He had a look of doubt in his eyes every time he said "kobe." I trusted him and ordered the elk.

To this day I have never had Kobe or "kobe" or wagyu but that elk sashimi was DELIRIOUSLY FANTASTIC in every possible way.
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:46 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is pretty shocking actually. I didn't necessarily think this beef came from the correct region of Japan but I did think it was in some way differentiated from pink slime.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:47 PM on April 17, 2012


For those unfamiliar with Forbes' oeuvre, every article can be summed up with, "And the PROBLEM is ultimately due to INTERFERENCE FROM THE GOVERNMENT!" The funny thing is that this article is no exception: you get to the end of part 2, where the author writes, "I explain why the real villain in the Kobe beef scam is the same villain behind many other fake high-end food products – the U.S. government."

And you're thinking, "how are they going to claim that this is all the fault of US government regulations?" But it's not. Why is Kobe beef (and parmesan cheese, and Champagne, etc.) not "real" Kobe beef? Because the US Government refuses to pass laws and regulations that prevent sellers from using these names, like other countries have done to conform with international treaties regulating this sort of regional branding.

It's not clear whether the author really has twisted himself into pretzels in an attempt to blame "government regulations" for this one, or that he figured that this was the correct angle to sneak this article past the Forbes editors.

Ultimately, the reason this problem exists is because, in conformance to the belief system of the Forbes editors, there is very minimal regulations regarding what suppliers can name their food products.
posted by deanc at 3:47 PM on April 17, 2012 [58 favorites]


I once had a wagyu fillet at Craftsteak in Las Vegas. Based on this experience, I think if you've had the real thing you'd know without a doubt.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:48 PM on April 17, 2012


Is something similar happening in the lobster industry? More often than not what I receive is more "lobster" than lobster.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:49 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. I thought this was common knowledge.

You know it's funny, I've heard SO MANY surprising facts in my life dismissed by one listener with "I thought this was common knowledge." In my experience, common knowledge exists more as a justification for not saying important things than as a body of community-known facts.
posted by JHarris at 3:49 PM on April 17, 2012 [22 favorites]




If they were getting beers and massages, I would be imitating a Japanese beef cow right now!

I take back the nasty thing I said about your people and just want to say that if you ever get to Sweden you can stay in my mouth. At my place. I meant at my place. Guess it's getting late and I'm getting hungry. Tired. I meant tired.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:51 PM on April 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


"Put the lotion in the basket"
posted by clavdivs at 3:56 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought this was common knowledge.

I didn't know it. Now I do.

Still, the 'Kobe' beef burger at the diner in San Anselmo was delicious.
posted by zippy at 3:56 PM on April 17, 2012


Count me as one of the people who doesn't care if they call is Champagne, Kobe, or Cheddar. When I see a region name X my brain just understands that it is "in the style of X". Why is that difficult? If I want champagne from Champagne, I'll make sure I look for that on the label. If I want a coke that's Coke I'll look for that on the label. If I want to xerox something with an actual Xerox, I'll look for it on the label.
posted by introp at 3:58 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's a strangely satisfying feeling to have an urge you have had for years informed like this. The relief of things making sense...
posted by Cosine at 3:59 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the worst thing in your life is beef mislabeling, I'd say you have a pretty pretty pretty nice life.
posted by Renoroc at 4:01 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's cool to see Wikipedia photos being used and credited in mainstream publications. I remember when Wikipedia had very few photos. People would organize trips to arboretums and zoos to take photos for articles.
posted by ryanrs at 4:01 PM on April 17, 2012


Why is that difficult? If I want champagne from Champagne, I'll make sure I look for that on the label. If I want a coke that's Coke I'll look for that on the label. If I want to xerox something with an actual Xerox, I'll look for it on the label.

Steak you order at a restaurant doesn't have a label.
posted by eugenen at 4:01 PM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


The third article is deeply depressing.
posted by yerfatma at 4:01 PM on April 17, 2012


(previously)
posted by mosessis at 4:02 PM on April 17, 2012


If the worst thing in your life is beef mislabeling, I'd say you have a pretty pretty pretty nice life.

Okay.
posted by eugenen at 4:04 PM on April 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


I remember something similar happening with coffee (was it Kona?). The growers had to sue for infringement when they discovered that other companies were labeling their packages with their type of beans, when in fact no amount of said type could be found within. All in order to add a few more dollars and cents to the price.

Actually, I don't know if they won, or if some compromise was reached. But something like kobe or wagyu beef being "misrepresented" in the U.S. in the efforts to charge more, doesn't really surprise me.

Depresses me, yes. Surprising, no.
posted by CancerMan at 4:04 PM on April 17, 2012


If the worst thing in your life is beef mislabeling, I'd say you have a pretty pretty pretty nice life.

My god, you're right! False advertising is totally okay because cancer and war!
posted by elizardbits at 4:08 PM on April 17, 2012 [62 favorites]


I have had the real thing once, in Tokyo.

It was incredible. But there wasn't much of it, because it was too expensive. But fuck me it was incredible.
posted by awfurby at 4:10 PM on April 17, 2012


introp: "Count me as one of the people who doesn't care if they call is Champagne, Kobe, or Cheddar. When I see a region name X my brain just understands that it is "in the style of X". Why is that difficult? If I want champagne from Champagne, I'll make sure I look for that on the label. If I want a coke that's Coke I'll look for that on the label. If I want to xerox something with an actual Xerox, I'll look for it on the label."

Yeah - I was thinking just call it "Kobe Style". You know, like "Homestyle Cooking" (in a frozen package). I do have to say it does suck in the sense that everyone knows only Champagne grown in a certain region of France is part of that whole regional appellation thing, how many know that about Kobe/Wagyu, etc... I didn't.

Does it matter? I guess maybe for really discriminatory connoisseurs, but for chumps like me, it's probably close enough. As long as it's not just some crap labelled but at least trying to be accurate about being close to the original product.
posted by symbioid at 4:16 PM on April 17, 2012


Yonezawa beef, three tiny slices, cooked by placing very briefly on a hot stone, at an onsen in the mountains in Yamagata prefecture.

All other beef has been chump meat since.
posted by whitneyarner at 4:20 PM on April 17, 2012


I never really thought that Laker player was Japanese...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:22 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Kobe should ALWAYS been eaten as steak. As soon as it is ground up - it loses the whole point of it, which is meltingly tender, super beefy meat. Don't eat it as sashimi - which is akin to putting a big slab of tallow in your mouth.

I've had it in Japan, and it's pretty tasty. One of those once-every-few-years kind of thing - and it's a fun splurge. But stay away from cheap Kobe. In fact - there's not such thing a a cheap version of something that takes craft and time to do well. And a false sense of luxury from cheap knockoffs is just plain sad.
posted by helmutdog at 4:23 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ultimately, the reason this problem exists is because, in conformance to the belief system of the Forbes editors, there is very minimal regulations regarding what suppliers can name their food products.

Ah! You evidently must be one of the communist degenerates Slavoj Zizek always talks about! Leave my tulips alone!

What's going on is pretty much evident: it's the government fault, for if the government forced local american produces to use strict labeling, they wouldn't be able to sell run-of-the-slaughterhouse meat as if it was Kobe Meat at a premium price.

They are forced to mislabel stuff by the government holding a gun to their heads; if they didn't mislabel, somebody else would , and their legitimate business would suffer, people would be fired! So they shaft people in order not to become criminals, like those who would mislabel meat if they didn't in the first place.

It's not like these people are dishonest, lying, cheating fruit of a week long orgy among the Madoffs, Murdochs and GoldmanSachs!
posted by elpapacito at 4:23 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


oh, and that truffle in your truffle oil flavored french fries?. not so much.


Yeah, anybody who actually knows was a truffle is never believed that for a second. That being said one of the best beef dishes I ever had was a steak tartare with truffle oil that I had at a restaurant in Minnesota.

This thread has made me realize that I have a shocking amount of beef-eating stories, and I should probably get my blood pressure checked.
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:25 PM on April 17, 2012


Back in '98, I had Wagyu beef done teppanyaki-style in a restaurant in Tenri, Nara-ken. It was like someone had reached in and inserted - inserted? wait, no, inserted is too forceful a word, maybe insinuated- yes, insinuated butter in between the muscle tissue of the most tender cow ever.



It was wondrous.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:26 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's a little disingenuous for Forbes, of all sources, to lead with "The U.S. Government wants you to buy fake foods". It's safe to say that Forbes doesn't always, or even usually, have a problem with industry writing legislation.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:26 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I prefer a portrrhouse from a steer raised in the high dry desert landscapes of old Wyoming. Preferably a three year old taken from some herd of mavericks collected by some cowboy. Cook it blue with aspen wood.
posted by humanfont at 4:26 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not clear whether the author really has twisted himself into pretzels in an attempt to blame "government regulations" for this one, or that he figured that this was the correct angle to sneak this article past the Forbes editors.

Uh, you're the one twisting yourself into pretzels trying to parse this. This is a blog at Forbes.com, not an article in Forbes magazine. As I've been pointing out ever since, they rebooted the website in early 2010 as a portal in the HuffPo mode and the contributors are clearly not as ideologically uniform as the magazine. Nor, so far as I am aware, does there appear to be any ideologically-based editorial interference.
posted by dhartung at 4:28 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know, this reminds me once again of the massive, systemic failures of imagination here in Korea that -- as someone committed to the place and equally committed to seeing the positives as much as possible, and after more than a decade here will probably die here -- that never ceases to annoy me. I suppose it's possible that it could also be a result of the ludicrous spaghetti tangle of over-regulation (on pointless minutiae, rather than corruption or environmental protection, where it might do so good) that chokes commercial activity here as well.

But Korean beef (known as 'han-oo') -- raised because it has to be on small-scale farms, magnificently fatty because of the preference for that here, truly staggeringly delicious -- could have the same kind of semi-mythical standing overseas that Japanese beef does. It is instantly clear when you eat out here if the beef is imported (usually from Australia, but increasingly from America once again after the Beef Wars of a few years ago). The best of it is certainly of the same quality as Kobe or what have you. But nobody's ever heard of it, even with the overseas rise of popularity of Korean food in the past decade, despite the fact that it would be a massive Korea-brand win, a boon for farmers (who are suffering these days), and have all kinds of positive knock-on effects for the economy and Korea's mindshare if it were marketed and exported properly, as a high-end thing.

Hell, it would tickle most (older-generation) Koreans pink to poke the Japanese in the eye, too, much the same way the Hallyu Korean wave of entertainment products has eclipsed Japanese stuff in recent years, at least in most of Asia.

But no: just the same tired old clumsily-narrated TV commercials with the latest half-wit slogan -- Korea SPARKLING, Korea SHINING, Korea SOMEPRESENTPARTICIPLING -- brought to you by the same tired old dumb-dumbs who have no idea how to engage productively with the rest of the world.

Sigh. Rant, she is finished.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:32 PM on April 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


Huh. Once or twice a grilling season I'll get a chunk of "kobe" from the local market. Too bad it's not truly authentic, I guess, but I ain't gonna stop enjoying it. Because holy hell is it good.

In fact, this is good news! This means that there's something even better that I haven't tried yet! I would be very sad if I found out I have already eaten all the delicious things.
posted by echo target at 4:32 PM on April 17, 2012


I never really thought that Laker player was Japanese...

He was actually named after the steak.

Not the city. They literally named him after the steak.

"His parents named him after a type of steak (kobe) seen on a restaurant menu prior to his birth."

LIKE A BOSS.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:41 PM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm just kinda amazed that everyone seems to know what Kobe beef is. I didn't realize it was that popular in the West.
posted by Bugbread at 4:42 PM on April 17, 2012


i had just come around to noticing this. we were in Reasor's just last friday, and i swear every single piece of beef in the butcher's section was marked "Kobe". i said at that time to my wife that it seemed incredibly unlikely that every single piece of beef in a random grocery store in the middle of Oklahoma would be Kobe beef, and that it didn't seem to mean anything at all anymore.
posted by radiosilents at 4:43 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


But Korean beef (known as 'han-oo') -- raised because it has to be on small-scale farms, magnificently fatty because of the preference for that here, truly staggeringly delicious -- could have the same kind of semi-mythical standing overseas that Japanese beef does.

I would like to make it my mission in life to eat in the manner described.

"Oh, you've heard of that. Everyone has. But you've (whips off plate cover) never heard of this!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:44 PM on April 17, 2012


Huh. I thought this was common knowledge.

I didn't know it for sure until I read the article. But I knew about Kobe beef, it's reputation, and so I was immediately suspicious whenever I saw it on the menu (I'm very rarely eating at Michelin rated restaurants). Good to know my suspicions were warranted.
posted by sbutler at 4:44 PM on April 17, 2012


I would be very sad if I found out I have already eaten all the delicious things.

Others would be sad to find that out too. But you could soften the blow by leaving them a note, perhaps in blank verse, just to say that you have eaten all the delicious things.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:45 PM on April 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken: "Hell, it would tickle most (older-generation) Koreans pink to poke the Japanese in the eye, too"

Yeah, just what we need, more stretching out of decades-old feuds.
posted by Bugbread at 4:48 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stavros, I've always wondered about what it was that's basically caused Korea's image overseas as essentially being the store-brand Japan. I suppose the marketing geniuses at work there with said beef might be behind part of it?
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:49 PM on April 17, 2012


I'm with deanc-- truly surprised that Larry Olmsted, (OF CIGAR AFICIONADO FAME) failed to consider the lobbying that produced the labeling. For anyone remotely interested in the economics behind all this-- Mancur Olson's The Logic of Collective Action eloquently describes the exploitation of latent consumer groups by industry lobbyists-- why we eat false beefs and pay above market rate for sugar.
posted by The White Hat at 4:51 PM on April 17, 2012


I would like to make it my mission in life to eat in the manner described.

"Oh, you've heard of that. Everyone has. But you've (whips off plate cover) never heard of this!"


I believe that would make you a food hipster.
posted by indubitable at 4:55 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


i'm really upset about the cheese thing. I love a good parmagiano-reggiano and now I find out there's a better version out there that I could have been enjoying all along? That's just cruel.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:56 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fear of being a hipster is the most hipster thing of all
posted by dng at 4:56 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't really know what a hipster is
posted by dng at 4:57 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would be very sad if I found out I have already eaten all the delicious things.

This seems like the sort of thinking that leads to opportunistic cannibalism.
posted by elizardbits at 4:58 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


i'm really upset about the cheese thing. I love a good parmagiano-reggiano and now I find out there's a better version out there that I could have been enjoying all along? That's just cruel.

Isn't unpasteurised milk and cheese banned in America anyway?
posted by dng at 4:58 PM on April 17, 2012


I don't really know what a hipster is

It's actually very simple. A hipster is anyone you fear may be hipper than you, turned into a pejorative by ascribing that belief to him, rather than you.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:00 PM on April 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


"I have eaten all the delicious things" would be a pretty awesome epitaph, IMO.
posted by indubitable at 5:00 PM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm sure Forbes will recommend more liberalized markets with minimal oversight to help the fake-food industry self-correct once we all have perfect knowledge.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:01 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I have eaten all the delicious things" would be a pretty awesome epitaph, IMO.

Both epitaph and cause of death.
posted by dng at 5:01 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the worst thing in your life is beef mislabeling, I'd say you have a pretty pretty pretty nice life.

I'm pretty sure that no one is saying this is the worst thing in their life. But, come on, if people are paying a premium and then aren't actually getting what they think they're paying for, that matters. It's false advertising. Just because there are bigger problems in the world doesn't mean that this one has to get ignored. People can care about more than one thing at a time.
posted by asnider at 5:05 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, just what we need, more stretching out of decades-old feuds.

A beef beef is hugely unlikely to overshadow the previous four centuries of tension - the sixteenth-century invasions were pretty memorable.
posted by gingerest at 5:13 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also thought it was well-known that it isn't real Kobe beef. As far as whether it is worth it, I would never buy a Kobe burger. If I'm at yakiniku and have the option of getting thin slices of beef that's 70% fat, marbled with a netting of pink muscle that I can cook on my own grill, I don't really care that much where it is from.

Also, there's nothing like the beef section of a really good Japanese (like, in Japan) supermarket.
posted by snofoam at 5:24 PM on April 17, 2012


Yeah, just what we need, more stretching out of decades-old feuds.

Oh, no we most certainly don't need that. But to pretend it doesn't exist is to engage in the same sort of deliberate blindness to historical realities that has kept the acrimony alive so long in the region. Sunshine, disinfectant, all that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:26 PM on April 17, 2012


Honestly, I didn't even know that the U.S. didn't follow the labelling laws and treaties and such. I have, on the other hand, had wagyu (I think it was from Matsuzaka), and honestly, I wasn't crazy about it. Speaking as someone who will, in the right mood, eat the entire steak including the ribbon o' fat (because beef fat is delicious), I found it to be overly fatty, and yeah, much like eatting a stick of beef flavored butter.

The thing is, here in Japan, pretty much every locality has seen the effect the name branding of Hyogo or Matsuzaka beef has had, and they're trying to push their own high quality foodstuffs. Imagine if every state in the U.S. helped farmers organize to create high quality breeds and craft produce. Tokyo (the western part, which is farms and mountains) is home to Tokyo Kuro-buta, which is a black haired breed of pig, and they are delicious. Chiba (where I live) is trying to raise the profile of the Chiba Imo-buta, or local pigs fed entirely on sweet potatoes. And it's awesome. Nearly every prefecture has realized that domestic farms can't really compete with imports in terms of price, so they'll out-do them in terms of quality. I don't always buy this stuff, simply because I'd go broke, but when I do, it's fantastic.

Also, good beef < good pork.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:34 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't even know that the U.S. didn't follow the labelling laws and treaties and such

We sort-of do. I mostly notice it with wine. It helps that the European wine producers vigorously promote and defend their denominations and appellations, and the US growers have ones of their own (Napa, Meritage), etc.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:42 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


where according to tradition (and possibly good marketing) the the cows live a life of massages and beer.

I would rather buy normal beef, and spend the savings on massages and beer for myself.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:45 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Stavros, I've always wondered about what it was that's basically caused Korea's image overseas as essentially being the store-brand Japan.

Very simply, I think it's in large part an effect of the kind of multidecade arcs that drive so much else in the region -- hell, all the way back to the mid- to late 19th century, when Japan's modernization drive started a few decades before Korea or China, and gave them the kind of advantages that let them harry China and Russia and occupy Korea for nearly 40 years until the end of WWII.

But in modern terms, we saw Japan industrializing and getting into manufacturing in the 1950s, and really hitting their export stride in the 1960s-1980s, then finally hitting a peak by the end of the 80s, when Time magazine sounded the death knell by worrying on cover stories that they were taking over the world. Japanese cars, electronics, steel, and a whole bunch of other stuff were known, respected, and often watchwords for quality. But if we're old enough, we shouldn't forget (forgive me, but this is what people actually said when I was young, in Canada) 'Jap crap' and similar phrases from the 60s and 70s, expressing the idea that Japanese products were maybe cheap, but also definitely substandard.

Post-war, it took Korea a lot longer to catch up, for a whole bunch of reasons. Korea didnt' start to reach its manufacturing stride until the 80s and early 90s, and the path was perhaps rougher, but even though stuff could be produced more cheaply than similar products in Japan, the quality just wasn't very good, and the reputation of Korean products was similar to the reputation of Japanese products three decades or so earlier.

But now, in only the last 5-10 years, we see Hyundai cars winning initial quality and reliability awards, we see the rise of Samsung and LG and other companies eclipsing the once-mighty Sony or Toshiba, we see growing interest in Korea and its cultural products (boy bands, sadly, occupy much of the focus): we see Japan on the decline and Korea on the rise. I think Korea's only going to continue on that upward swing, at least for the next 5 to 10 years, possibly a little longer.

But the same thing we've seen in the past, or something similar is, I think, going to happen with China in the next couple of decades, and Korea Inc is going to have to decide how to deal with the fact that even though, currently, Chinese products are generally cheaper but crappier than Korean ones, it won't be all that long until they're cheaper and at least equivalent in quality. The same pattern, with new variations, once again.

Japan -- given what's been happening there for the last decade or two in terms of their economy -- didn't deal with their arc very well. Korea, I suspect, particularly having had an example to learn from, might do better.

But China's a terrifying (to me, at least) wildcard, so we shall see. And there's always North Korea to worry about.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:46 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Steak you order at a restaurant doesn't have a label.
The menu and the waiter are the labels. In my experience, if they don't tell you up-front what it is or where it came from, it isn't a positive worth advertising. (Read: it came from their distributor. That doesn't make it bad, it just saves you the trouble of asking. If it's unique, it'll have a label on the menu or waiter's list like "angus from Newport Farms" or "limousin from our friends over the mountain in Seven Springs.")
posted by introp at 6:03 PM on April 17, 2012


Black pig tonkatsu is fantastic.
posted by snofoam at 6:04 PM on April 17, 2012


I've always wondered about what it was that's basically caused Korea's image overseas as essentially being the store-brand Japan.

Time. No-one in the '50's, 60's or '70s had any idea there was something to Japan apart from cheap electronics, dodgy trinkets mass-manufactured for export and dinky, unreliable cars.

Interest sparked in the late '70s and '80s as Japan and Hong Kong became trade powerhouses, wealthy and modern with a healthy middle class. Sushi was suddenly everywhere. Japan exploded into cultural consciousness in the '90s, with the dominance of Japanese anime and videogames as the entertainment of choice for the nerd counterculture.

Korea is 15-20 years behind Japan in its development, and has avoided some of the economic landmines Japan stepped on in its growth. K-Pop and Korean cuisine is getting really popular with counter-culture kids lately... and Samsung and Hyundai are now what Sony and Honda was in the '80s - advanced manufacturers of quality technology. I think we're going to see a lot of Korea in the next ten years... and then it's Taiwan's turn.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:25 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know it's funny, I've heard SO MANY surprising facts in my life dismissed by one listener with "I thought this was common knowledge." In my experience, common knowledge exists more as a justification for not saying important things than as a body of community-known facts.

You’re probably right, but I honestly thought that it was generally known that the “Kobe beef” sold at a 30% mark-up at Japanese restaurants and chain steak-houses in the US is not the real thing. You don’t have to know much about Japanese cuisine to know that real Kobe beef is so expensive and produced in such limited quantity that you’d never see it sold at places like Outback or Applebee’s, even if it were legally exported.

Judging by the reaction to this FPP and to my previous comment, I am obviously mistaken. In my defense, I grew up in Hawaii and on the West Coast around a lot of Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans, a community where I think this is more or less "common knowledge." I’ve had multiple laughs at menus that advertise Kobe beef with friends (American and Japanese alike), and would have been quite surprised if one of them said with a serious look, “What, you mean this isn’t really Kobe beef?! WTH!”

If it makes ya’ll feel better, bars, pubs and alcohol markets all over Japan market and sell Budweiser as a “premium” American beer. The stuff usually goes for the equivalent of about $3 per bottle at the super market and for as much as $10/bottle at bars. I don’t know what kind of tariffs are put on alcohol imports from the US, but man, $10 for a bottle of Budweiser should be a crime. People buy it, though, feeling cosmopolitan because they are experiencing a premium drink from the US.
posted by Kevtaro at 6:31 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I live in Japan, and whenever I mention "Kobe beef" to a Japanese person I tend to get puzzled looks. Wagyu is the better term, and there are various regions in Japan that are famous for their delicious, gourmet, pricey beef. (I can't recall any off the top of my head).

If you pay money for "Kobe" beef, it may be worth it, but know that some marketer somewhere is doing a "ka-ching!" thing with his arms.
posted by zardoz at 6:47 PM on April 17, 2012


Food hipster. I can live with that. And I will live deliciously.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:54 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is the actual, physical difference between real "Kobe beef" and "Wagyu" beef or whatever.

I mean, if you ignore the provenance and looked at the meat on the plate, how could you tell the difference? Is there a reliably discernible difference?
posted by empath at 6:55 PM on April 17, 2012


People buy it, though, feeling cosmopolitan because they are experiencing a premium drink from the US.

Jesus. What are they paying for a Sam Adams?
posted by empath at 6:56 PM on April 17, 2012


broadway bill writes "If they were getting beers and massages, I would be imitating a Japanese beef cow right now!"

There is a localish ranch that feeds there cows wine.
posted by Mitheral at 7:07 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now, someone needs to do a write-up on "organic" labeling.
posted by vidur at 7:44 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


echo target: " I would be very sad if I found out I have already eaten all the delicious things."

I too would be sad if I found out you had already eaten all the delicious things.
posted by wierdo at 7:50 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it makes ya’ll feel better, bars, pubs and alcohol markets all over Japan market and sell Budweiser as a “premium” American beer.

I've seen this in Europe, too. It's not just Japan.
posted by grouse at 8:01 PM on April 17, 2012


What is the actual, physical difference between real "Kobe beef" and "Wagyu" beef or whatever.

Marbling changes both the flavor and the mouth-feel.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:06 PM on April 17, 2012


That's very interesting stavros - are you in the industry?

Here in BC (Canada), I see a lot of New Zealand lamb and beef; premium cuts, mostly. But that's all in the supermarket. High end (and the definition has changed a lot; Jackson's in Kits used to be awesome because they had excellent staff and a broad selection at reasonable prices. The new Jacksons seems to be the same except for the prices and the other customers are a lot more bitchy/exacting/pretentious) is now mostly semi-local/Alberta.

Kobe-style Wagyu-breed beef ought to have their own designation like Champagne.

For most people though, it doesn't matter if the champagne is actually Champagne from, Champagne, France. It's more; BUBBLY! YAY!

"Kobe Style Beef" could be the same thing. "KOBE! YAY!"

Actually, I'd expect the Kobe industry to actively work against that.
posted by porpoise at 8:09 PM on April 17, 2012


Kobe is the name of the cityin Hyogo with the name recognition, hence Kobe beef. Wagyu, as mentioned up thread, is beef from Japan. In Japan, the name recognition is tied to the locality of the product. Kobe, Matsuzaka, these are names that hold a certain amount of power, and people will pay for it because in Japan, you can't legally market something unless it actually meets the standards (not that there haven't been considerable scandals before). Interestingly, a year or so ago, at a pretty cheap yakiniku restaurant, they had an explanation of the various techinical terms for the classifications of beef in Japan, and it turns out that what they call kokunai (literally, in country) beef refers only to beef slaughtered in Japan. In practice, kokunai beef can be raised or bred anywhere, as long as it is processed here. Kind of a shock, actually.

As for the tragedy of beer prices, a bottle of Sam Adams runs about ¥360 ($4) if you can find it in a liquor shop, or around ¥750 ($8.50) or more in a bar. Because of the Byzantine tax laws on beer (taxed by amount of malt? Hops?) in Japan, Bass Pale Ale is actually equal to,or less expensive than, most Japanese beers. And Japanese micro-brews? Tasty, but hard to find and stupidly expensive.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:17 PM on April 17, 2012


One other thing, in terms of scarcity, there was a year or two ago, an outbreak of foot and mouth in Mie Prefecture, where Matsuzaka beef is from. Whole herds had to be slaughtered. The financial hit to the farmers, and the prefecture in general was staggering.

As for Kobe, I very, very rarely actually here about that here. As I mentioned, I've heard a lot more about Matsuzaka beef. I wonder if that's in response to the name value of Kobe having been so badly undermined abroad.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:22 PM on April 17, 2012


Marbling changes both the flavor and the mouth-feel.

I know, but in what way is Kobe beef different? If I presented you with a genuine Kobe steak and a faux-Kobe steak, could an expert tell the difference without doing genetic testing?
posted by empath at 8:31 PM on April 17, 2012


I will undertake some highly scientific taste testing if you want to provide the steaks, dude. It may take 3-4 tries to get accurate results though, but that is okay because it will be FOR SCIENCE.
posted by elizardbits at 8:44 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Korean hanwoo beef can be very good, but it certainly isn't always so. And it's not even comparable to legit wagyu or kobe beef in Japan. Farming methods vary widely and are not very well overseen or enforced (not to mention slaughtering practices). Sorry, Stav, but them's my 22.75 won.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:45 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Empath, tHe beef being talked about is visibly different from standard American beef. If, for example, you have a steak, the American steak willbe a solid red, with aribbonoffat o. The outside of the cut. The muscle, the red, is mostly just that, muscle. With the high end Japanese beef (Kobe, Matsuzaka, or possibly the American knock off), the steak will be lined with veins of white fat, running through the center of the muscle. From a distance, it will appear to be pink, rather than white an red, because of the predominance of the fat. The cattle that produce this kind of beef get very, very little exercise, and are definitely not allowed to range free. The key is to keep them from developing their muscles, to preserve tenderness, and the meat is definitely very, very tender.

In cooking, you would want the kobestyle beef to be rarer than western style beef. Overlooking Kobe style beef renders out the fat, which is the whole point of how the cattle are raised. In preparation, here in Japan, you don't often get a giant steak of this stuff (it'd be cripplingly expensive, to boot), instead, you'll get a small cut seared, then sliced on a bias, or sliced into this strips and eaten like yakiniku.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:45 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What he said.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:53 PM on April 17, 2012


That's very interesting stavros - are you in the industry?

Depends what you mean by 'the industry'. Heh. My business card says I'm an HRD Senior Consultant.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:49 PM on April 17, 2012


Korean hanwoo beef can be very good, but it certainly isn't always so.

Oh, agreed. Although there is a lot of cheating, especially in Seoul, from what I've heard, despite laws against it. And I live in the boonies of the south, where we're a lot closer to the producers themselves, so I rarely get hanwoo that isn't quite splendid.

If you'd asked me 20 years ago if I'd be eating raw cow organ meat and loving it, I would not have answered in the affirmative.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:52 PM on April 17, 2012


I'd noticed the Budweiser thing. A Japanese national hotel bartender we wanted to get a good thank-you gift for let it be known that the thing that would make her most happy was Budweiser. That and paper towels, so she could feel all fancy American-style in her kitchen at home.

At the same time, now that I'm back here in the states, I'd pay a lot more for a gyudon bowl or real ramen bowl at lunch (if I could find one) than anyone there would think sane.
posted by ctmf at 10:38 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Presumably American "Kobe" would still have the veins of fat. The "Kobe" beef I've had did, and it was more expensive, but not shockingly so, so it was probably not the real thing.

Or would it be impossible for an American restaurant to sell anything like the Kobe style without charging real Kobe prices? Do the cows need to be a breed that doesn't exist outside of Japan and can't be exported?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:57 AM on April 18, 2012


The big point of this really just seems to be the complete hypocrisy of USA Foreign Trade Policy. Its shocking that in this day and age there is still in the USA no protection of DOC / AOC labeling of foodstuffs that really have a right to protect their name and heritage.

Further cause to boycott USA products.
posted by mary8nne at 1:51 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Count me as one of the people who doesn't care if they call is Champagne, Kobe, or Cheddar. When I see a region name X my brain just understands that it is "in the style of X". Why is that difficult? If I want champagne from Champagne, I'll make sure I look for that on the label. If I want a coke that's Coke I'll look for that on the label. If I want to xerox something with an actual Xerox, I'll look for it on the label.

That's fine; you should eat/drink what you want. But you should at least be aware of the fact that this is a very American attitude that isn't internationally normative. And even if you like the knockoffs just as much as the real deal, diluting a brand like this really can hurt the people who have been growing grapes/raising cattle/making cheese/etc. in a very strictly prescribed, culturally-interesting way for a very long time.

In a related story, I'm planning to visit Champagne this summer, and I have half a mind to show up to Gosset in jean shorts and a Megadeth tee-shirt, loudly proclaiming my love for Andre Cold Duck, finest of the American champagnes. I bet I can evince a full-body cringe from three people within 60 seconds of walking through the door. Only problem is that I don't think my French is strong enough to recover quickly enough not to be kicked out of the cave, or given the special tourist discount.
posted by Mayor West at 5:27 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Forbes article is based on a very simplistic understanding of the nature and purpose of the relevant law. The legal scholar Justin Hughes has a long, erudite, and witty analysis of the European Union's decades-long push for a stronger system of so-called "geographical indications." They aren't just about protecting consumers. There's also an uglier side to them: to take control of evocative terms. From his conclusion:
The battle over certain geographic words has been long and persistent. World War I was fought over Champagne, both literally—as in the bombardment of the cathedral at Rheims—and grammatically. Pursuant to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany surrendered to France the lands of Alsace-Lorraine and the words “Champagne” and “Cognac.” A century ago, Perrier had no problem advertising itself in Germany and France as “the champagne of mineral waters,” but that same practice now would land Source Perrier on the docket anywhere in the European Union.

It is easy to understand the economic and political motives behind EU proposals to “claw back” valuable words that have become generic like “Gorgonzola” and “Chablis.” As with the proposals to give protection against “usurpation” to all GIs, the goal is to secure wider, more extensive monopoly rents to the European Union’s agroalimentaire industries. The European Union promotes these proposals as something that would benefit developing countries, but that mistakes the piling up of intellectual property laws for the piling up of investments.
The article also contains a not-to-be-missed takedown of terroir: the idea that certain foodstuffs can only be produced in certain regions because of precise, specific qualities of the land that result in subtle and inimicable qualities of the resulting cheese, wine, or what-have-you, qualities that could never be replicated anywhere else. Hughes is a foodie of the very highest order himself, so he knows whereof he speaks when he says that the claims are implausible.
posted by grimmelm at 5:58 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "Kobe" beef I've had did, and it was more expensive, but not shockingly so, so it was probably not the real thing.

I had "kobe" beef at a five star restaurant in the DC area, and it was very marbled and did indeed melt on the tongue.
posted by empath at 6:13 AM on April 18, 2012


I bought some frozen "American Style Kobe Beef Burgers" at Trader Joe's. They were pretty good, but not as good as the Buffalo Burgers TJ's used to sell.

I don't really know what a hipster is

Genuine hipsters are only produced in NYC and in a few neighborhoods of Seattle. All other "hipsters" are imitations and lack the qualities that endear the true hipster to us all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:59 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you have ever had beef sashimi, or carpaccio, it is not Japanese or "japanese style" beef, because it would be nasty from a mouth-feel perspective. Those dishes require very lean meat to be palatable.

And while I know, based on availability that there couldn't be as much Japanese beef on the market as was advertised, I had no idea there was none, zero, bupkiss.
posted by dejah420 at 7:32 AM on April 18, 2012


The Forbes article is based on a very simplistic understanding of the nature and purpose of the relevant law. The legal scholar Justin Hughes has a long, erudite, and witty analysis of the European Union's decades-long push for a stronger system of so-called "geographical indications."
I don't know what you meant to link to (the URL got scrambled), but the paper is entitled "Champagne, Feta, and Bourbon - the Spirited Debate About Geographical Indications" and should be downloadable by anyone with access to academic databases.

I haven't read the whole article, but a lot of his argument seems to hinge on the ambiguous nature of "terroir" and whether it really has any effects, but as the FPP mentions, use of a specific foodstuff name also carries with it a whole host of standards of manufacture, along with geographical origin.

That said, in many cases these sorts of standards of manufacture don't exist. Maybe in the centuries-old traditions of Parma, the cheese guilds have detailed expectations of what kind of parmesan can be sold, but AFAIK, these standards don't exist for, say, feta cheese. Danish and US feta is not necessarily better or worse than feta cheese made in Greece, simply different.

I'd prefer a bit more truth-in-advertising from American food manufacturing, but I'm perfectly willing to try Irish-style whiskey. And it would be nice if we had a stronger indication of just where our food was coming from so that we could judge whether it was up to our own standards (ie, "you know what you're going to get").
posted by deanc at 8:24 AM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


In a time of PIPA and SOPA and CISPA, it's amazing that a legislature hellbent on protecting Hollywood's IP cares so little about the IP of the rest of the world.

Why does that surprise you? It's not like it's the principle of intellectual property that's important here - it's just the American industry.
posted by mhoye at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2012


Genuine hipsters are only produced in NYC and in a few neighborhoods of Seattle.

You forgot Portland.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:09 AM on April 18, 2012


Genuine hipsters are only produced in NYC and in a few neighborhoods of Seattle.

You forgot Portland.


I may be mistaken but I do not believe they are actually produced within Portland itself, my understanding was that they are produced elsewhere, shipped to Portland and merely finished there before heading to market.
posted by Cosine at 9:21 AM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


If it makes ya’ll feel better, bars, pubs and alcohol markets all over Japan market and sell Budweiser as a “premium” American beer. The stuff usually goes for the equivalent of about $3 per bottle at the super market and for as much as $10/bottle at bars. I don’t know what kind of tariffs are put on alcohol imports from the US, but man, $10 for a bottle of Budweiser should be a crime. People buy it, though, feeling cosmopolitan because they are experiencing a premium drink from the US.

That's no different from North Americans overpaying for European (or Japanese) import beers. The reason that it doesn't compare to the Kobe thing is because no one is selling "fake" Budweiser (at least, I hope not...knocking off an already mediocre product? wow).
posted by asnider at 10:10 AM on April 18, 2012


And while I know, based on availability that there couldn't be as much Japanese beef on the market as was advertised, I had no idea there was none, zero, bupkiss.

I'm highly skeptical of that claim in the article. I fully believe that I've had authentic Kobe beef from a Japanese family I'm friends with in the US. They said they paid an astronomical amount for it, that it's the real deal and hard to find/import, and that I was only getting a small amount because of this. It tasted incredible.

As for the "Kobe"/"Wagyu" beef you see in restaurants, while it's clearly not authentic, there is still a noticeable difference in taste. At a respectable restaurant it's still absolutely worth buying if you're in the mood for something other than the same old kinds of beef you're used to having every week.
posted by naju at 10:26 AM on April 18, 2012


no one is selling "fake" Budweiser (at least, I hope not...knocking off an already mediocre product? wow).

American Budweiser is, itself, the "fake" version of Budweis's flagship product.
posted by deanc at 10:45 AM on April 18, 2012


"I explain why the real villain in the Kobe beef scam is the same villain behind many other fake high-end food products – the U.S. government."

And you're thinking, "how are they going to claim that this is all the fault of US government regulations?"


How did you make the jump from the US Government being a problem to that problem being "regulations" - it seems like you're the one being prejudicial here.

I don't even think the article uses the term "regulation" at all.

From the article:

As recently as 2006, Congress actively clarified alcohol labeling laws specifically to allow continued domestic production of “Champagne.” To be precise, this permission was grandfathered to companies that had been making “champagne” domestically up until then, and new entrants can’t label as such today. But there are plenty of such grandfathered producers. Furthermore, like most food products, the bottle must include the country of origin, but given that many people believe Champagne cannot come from anyplace but France, you could hardly expect them to search the label for small print saying “made in California.” When I buy the quart of 100% pure Florida Orange juice, I don’t check the back to see if it is made in China. But our lawmakers did not stop there. This legislation also reinforced the “rights” of domestic producers to make their own versions of many of the world’s other best known “place” wines, all well protected labels just about everywhere else on earth. These include France’s Burgundy, Rhone and Chablis; Tuscany’s Chianti; Portugal’s Port and Madeira; Spain’s Sherry, and Hungary’s Tokay.

It seems pretty clear that the US government is the main facilitator of these food scams.

I'm sure Forbes will recommend more liberalized markets with minimal oversight to help the fake-food industry self-correct once we all have perfect knowledge.

Odd ad hominem responses...

People buy it, though, feeling cosmopolitan because they are experiencing a premium drink from the US.

Jesus. What are they paying for a Sam Adams?


Nobody wants a Sam Adams. They all want Budweiser. It's uncanny marketing. Coke is good at that too.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:00 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"And while I know, based on availability that there couldn't be as much Japanese beef on the market as was advertised, I had no idea there was none, zero, bupkiss."

I'm highly skeptical of that claim in the article. I fully believe that I've had authentic Kobe beef from a Japanese family I'm friends with in the US. They said they paid an astronomical amount for it, that it's the real deal and hard to find/import, and that I was only getting a small amount because of this.


Yes, because you believe you had authentic Kobe beef that your Japanese friends paid astronomical costs to get into America it totally means we should be skepical of a claim that there is none to be had in the American market.
posted by Cosine at 11:21 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, because you believe you had authentic Kobe beef that your Japanese friends paid astronomical costs to get into America it totally means we should be skepical of a claim that there is none to be had in the American market.

I don't understand what you mean by American market. It would by necessity have to be imported. By anecdata I'm saying I'm skeptical of what he stated clearly from the outset: "You cannot buy Japanese Kobe beef in this country. Not in stores, not by mail, and certainly not in restaurants. No matter how much you have spent, how fancy a steakhouse you went to, or which of the many celebrity chefs who regularly feature “Kobe beef” on their menus you believed, you were duped. I’m really sorry to have to be the one telling you this, but no matter how much you would like to believe you have tasted it, if it wasn’t in Asia you almost certainly have never had Japan’s famous Kobe beef."
posted by naju at 11:49 AM on April 18, 2012


Perhaps there are some channels that savvy Japanese immigrants have access to that the author doesn't, for example. If that was refuted in the article, I missed it...
posted by naju at 11:54 AM on April 18, 2012


Perhaps there are some channels that savvy Japanese immigrants have access to that the author doesn't, for example. If that was refuted in the article, I missed it...

Entirely reasonable. Customs can't check every package. We were getting French absinthe in the states years before the US ban was lifted, we just paid a very hefty shipping fee.
posted by kaseijin at 11:56 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm saying I'm skeptical of what he stated clearly from the outset:

People smuggle stuff into the US in their luggage all the time. Those are likely the "channels" in which they acquired that beef.

In any case, the author is clearly talking about "normal commercial markets", not some underground black market Kobe-beef sellers or families bringing some home for themselves.
posted by deanc at 12:13 PM on April 18, 2012


We don't actually know how they acquired it, but it's not out of the question that there are sellers who specialize in this kind of thing. And nothing about Kobe beef or transporting it to another country is illegal. So if there are ways to obtain it in this country without any problems, and savvy people can find out how, surely high-end chefs can do so and charge a premium, and it really is authentic Kobe beef you're eating. (Hence normal commercial markets.) Granted, this is not the kobe you're eating at Applebee's, but he's saying no matter how much you pay or where you obtain it from, it's NOT real kobe. His basic premise as written seems insane to me and very difficult to verify with any accuracy. Sorry if my skepticism is ludicrous.
posted by naju at 12:24 PM on April 18, 2012


(Uh, there are restrictions on importing. Please ignore that brainfart!)
posted by naju at 12:27 PM on April 18, 2012


It's a good thing to have a butcher and to befriend him or her. Then, you can laugh at all the inside jokes in the meat business together. American Kobe is one of them. I've had the very expensive, well marbled, pseudo-Kobe and I honestly don't see the appeal. If I'm buying a nice piece of premium prime beef, I'll go with the far less-expensive and ridiculously more flavorful Charolais or Hereford beef.
posted by snottydick at 1:41 PM on April 18, 2012


Regarding the cachet of bad American beer in Japan:

A friend and I went to Fridays last night (they have an awesome happy hour deal, we were going to a concert around the corner, don't judge) and they were having an "international" beer party promotion, where you get a ticket for each bottled beer you buy. Collect three tickets, get a coupon for a free beer on your next visit. The beers available: Budweiser, Miller Light, Corona, and Guiness. Guh
posted by Ghidorah at 3:23 PM on April 18, 2012


Everyone's laughing about Japanese people enjoying a Bud, but haha jokes on us: Asahi.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:00 PM on April 18, 2012


If you're saying that Asahi is bad beer, well, that may be (I like my beer cold, wet, and high in alcohol content, and beyond that am not very picky), but it must say I think kicks the living shit out of any of the Korean beers I can get (including the newish OB Golden Lager, which is what I drink these days as the best of a bad lot).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:31 PM on April 18, 2012


Yeah, without a doubt, just as diarrhea in the toilet kicks the living shit out of diarrhea in your bed.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:58 PM on April 18, 2012


but it must say I think kicks the living shit out of any of the Korean beers I can get

Switch to drinking soju.

I wonder what happens to the rest of a true Wagyu animal treated in the traditional manner? Does it all get turned into ground "Kobe Burgers?" What about it's hanger steak/onglet?

Kobe onglet. Has anyone tried?

I'd kinda doubt there'd be a huge difference, but if these cows had a fatty diaphragm pulling muscle, their QOL might not be that great.
posted by porpoise at 8:34 PM on April 18, 2012


Switch to drinking soju.

I can only assume that you have never actually tasted soju, or that your tastebuds were damaged in a tragic kimchi-related accident in your youth. Heh.

I'll drink soju with a meal, with colleagues or whatever, as you do, and it does the job, certainly, but I would never drink it for pleasure. But that's just me, perhaps.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:58 PM on April 18, 2012


That said, I drink cheap beer out of plastic bottles, so my opinions in matters gustatory may be a little suspect.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:00 PM on April 18, 2012


Must be hard out in the provinces, stav...my fridge is stocked with Pilsner Urquell and my pantry with Islay whisky :)

(incentive for a Seoul visit, perhaps?)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:06 PM on April 18, 2012


This derail's getting out of hand (but what the hell, it's about booze): you actually can buy some imported stuff down here these days -- we got a Home Plus a couple of years back finally, just across the bridge from the Company Town -- but I am happy enough that my lovely and perhaps excessively frugal wife is fine with me getting my beer on once a week that I am discinlined to push matters by going for the top-shelf stuff, especially given the oceanic quantities I typically imbibe during my Friday night sessions. And like I said, my simple tastes are pretty much binary between like/BLARG, and with a bit of citrus in, the cheap stuff is palatable enough. (I do have to come up to Seoul sometime early next year for my new passport, though, so maybe then! ;-))
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:13 PM on April 18, 2012


When I first got here, I actually liked Asahi. I've since drifted to Sapporo, but I try to go for quality at home, which means I've got a pretty decent selection of Japanese micro brews and foreign beers. They tried to sell a Korean beer here (Hi-something?), and I gave it a try. Staggeringly bad. You have my sympathies.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:40 PM on April 18, 2012


That would be Hite.

There are a couple macro Japanese beers worth drinking, fwiw: Yebisu and Suntory Premium Malt.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:56 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


And that was where we parted ways, Joseph Gurl. I like Yebisu, but Premium Malts is ungodly sweet to me, with a bizarre root beer aftertaste. I will, if I have the choice, avoid patronizing establishments that serve it, my dislike is so strong. Kirin is passable, but I don't willingly drink it. The varieties of Yebisu have expanded, with four different kinds commonly available. Their stout is not bad. Kirin, actually, has a pretty tasty stout, but Asahi's is pretty bland.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:56 PM on April 18, 2012


Premium Malts is ungodly sweet to me, with a bizarre root beer aftertaste

I don't taste that at all. To each her own quart jar of snot, I say.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:16 AM on April 19, 2012


Stay classy, Joe.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:17 AM on April 19, 2012


I don't really know what a hipster is

It's actually very simple. A hipster is anyone you fear may be hipper than you, turned into a pejorative by ascribing that belief to him, rather than you.


No, a hipster is anyone who cares about being hip.
posted by gjc at 7:03 AM on April 19, 2012


If you have ever had beef sashimi, or carpaccio, it is not Japanese or "japanese style" beef, because it would be nasty from a mouth-feel perspective. Those dishes require very lean meat to be palatable.

Says you. I rather like the mouth feel of fatty raw meat.
posted by snottydick at 7:16 AM on April 19, 2012


Switch to drinking soju.

I am pretty sure "soju" is the Korean word for "death via explosive hypovolemia from all orifices at once".
posted by elizardbits at 8:09 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


As for the "Kobe"/"Wagyu" beef you see in restaurants, while it's clearly not authentic, there is still a noticeable difference in taste. At a respectable restaurant it's still absolutely worth buying if you're in the mood for something other than the same old kinds of beef you're used to having every week.

That might be the case of the Japan-flavored beef you personally may have seen in restaurants. But the point of the article is that, since these terms are completely unregulated in the U.S., there is nothing at all to guarantee that the Nipponified cowflesh you eat at one place is anything at all like that of another, or even anything to stop the people who run your favorite meathouses from switching all their stuff over to anything that meets the low standard of "beef" in the U.S. There is nothing to hold anyone to a hard definition for those terms.
posted by JHarris at 3:21 PM on April 19, 2012


Stay classy, Joe.

Too late for that, I'm afraid. But if I play my cards just right, assy may yet be doable.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:40 PM on April 19, 2012


billyfleetwood: "i'm really upset about the cheese thing. I love a good parmagiano-reggiano and now I find out there's a better version out there that I could have been enjoying all along? That's just cruel."

I've actually never seen fake cheese labeled Parmigiano-Reggiano. I've only ever seen it labeled Parmesan.

This is the real stuff, and while expensive, can be bought at almost any mid-to-high end grocery store. If you're paying significantly less than $15/lb in the US it probably isn't the real thing. If it says Parmesan it's definitely not the real thing. Because of its incredibly grainy texture it's difficult to cut it in a straight line, but this is easy for the fake varieties. So if it looks like this it may be tasty but it isn't the real thing.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:49 AM on April 24, 2012


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