What Is Wagyu Beef?

Wagyu is regarded as one of the finest beefs in the world. It's made from four breeds of cattle in Japan -- the Japanese Black, Brown, Polled and Shorthorn. Wagyu beef is identifiable from its marbled pattern of fat within the meat, which gives it a rich, buttery texture and taste.

cut of uncooked wagyu beef with a knife
hlphoto/Shutterstock

What Is Kobe Beef?

Japanese Black cows make up 90 percent of the world's Wagyu, and it is a strain of this cow that Kobe beef is made from. Kobe beef comes from the Tajima-Gyu cow and, like Wagyu beef, the cows are raised to meet strict care standards. Under Japanese law, authentic Kobe beef must be made completely in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan.

uncooked cut of kobe beef on a black platter
hungryworks/Shutterstock

Wagyu Beef vs Kobe Beef

All Kobe beef is Wagyu, but not all Wagyu beef is Kobe. Both have the same characteristics that make them a delicacy -- a fine marbling of fat within the meat that makes the beef have a melt-in-your-mouth quality. But there are a few differences between these meats.

Both Kobe cows and Wagyu cows are raised in breeding and feeding farms and given specialty feed to promote growth. But Kobe cows are raised for two to four months longer than a typical Wagyu cow -- about 30 to 32 months total until they're slaughtered.

Kobe beef is also rarer than Wagyu, making up only a small percentage of all beef production in Japan. Only about 5,000 cows a year meet the strict requirements for meeting Kobe classification.

Though Wagyu itself is a fine delicacy, Kobe is a step higher. Kobe is extra buttery and succulent, making it the ultimate choice for meat lovers -- at hundreds of dollars a pound. You can find Wagyu for a cheaper price, though certain cuts are still quite pricey. What you pay depends on its source and cut.

cooked and seasoned cuts of kobe beef on a black surface
hlphoto/Shutterstock

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