If you have ordered Kobe beef in this U.S., you were probably ripped off. It doesn’t matter whether you bought steaks, sliders or a “Kobe burger,” whether you hit up a neighborhood joint or a famed celebrity chef eatery, the restaurant that sold it to you likely had a laugh at your expense – or your expense account. That’s because between 2001 until 2006, and again between 2010 and 2012, importing Japanese beef was banned by USDA.
That fact didn’t stop cheeky restaurants saying what they were serving was Kobe. Since the term isn’t regulated in the U.S., restauranteurs were able to put the word in front of just about everything. It’s gone so crazy that I’ve even seen the word Kobe thrown in front of Chicken and Pork dishes.
The main reason for Kobe Beefs illustrious reputation is because it’s exceedingly rare. The amount produced is tiny, only 3,000 Kobe cattle are allowed to be farm each year… for the whole world. Of this tiny amount, 90% never leave Japan.
The rest is exported to just eight countries, of which Hong Kong (China) buys by far the most, over 40%. That leaves just 6% of the already small Kobe allotment for the rest of the world, and both Singapore and Macau get more than the U.S. In 2013, the first full year since the ban was lifted, the amount of Kobe beef imported into the U.S. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that almost anytime you see the word Kobe on a menu in the U.S., or anywhere else for that matter, it means the restaurant is likely misleading you.
Having said that, there is one place in the U.S. where you can be assured of eating legit Kobe: 212 Steakhouse, NYC – although you’ll pay a pretty penny for the privilege. Their Kobe costs $25 per ounce, and there’s a 3once minimum. At 6 once, the Kobe Experience would cost you a cool $150 and that’s without the addition of gold flakes.
If you want their famous Gold Experience it’ll set you back a whopping $400. Which is of course a crazy price, but at least the reviews are looking strong:
“The Steak itself had lots of marbling and it was soooooo tender. It literally melted in my mouth,’ gushed @feedyourgirlfriend. “The most extra meal I’ve had – it was so tender and delicious,” wrote @matchadee.
If you’re a huge steak lover, then perhaps you’ll be interested to see Gordon Ramsay’s top 5 steak recipes. Some absolute beauties in there.