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What Makes Japanese Beef So Coveted and Special?

Oct 19 2020 - Blog

The Autumn Equinox is upon us, and there’s no better time to celebrate everything there is to know about food and drink! This week, join us as we treat our taste buds to Japanese beef, an exquisite melt-in-your-mouth marbled creation that’s bursting with flavour.

Mention Japanese beef, and the tantalising melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu or Kobe beef immediately come to mind. However, did you know that all Kobe beef is considered to be of the Wagyu variety, but not all Wagyu beef is considered to be Kobe beef?

Confusing, we know. Here’s a simple breakdown: Wagyu refers to any of the four Japanese cattle breeds, and is sometimes shipped according to the locations that they originate from. Types of Wagyu beef include Matsusaka beef, Omi beef, Sanda beef, Yonezawa beef, as well as Mishima beef. Kobe, on the other hand, refers to a specific type of Wagyu beef from Tajima Japanese cattle in the Hyogo Prefecture.

However, no matter the type, it’s no secret that Japanese beef is an unparalleled delicacy, with cuts that boast tenderness, gorgeous marbled textures, and exquisite flavours. The beef is normally consumed as steak (the undisputed crowd favourite!), shabu-shabu, teppanyaki, yakiniku, sukiyaki, or even as sashimi.

The best part? It’s not difficult to prepare Japanese beef at home; in fact, it couldn’t be simpler! Here are some recommended cuts to beef up your next meal:

1. Hokkaido Snow Beef A5

Meticulously hand-raised by Mr Fujio Terauchi, one of the most acclaimed Wagyu Meisters, Hokkaido Snow Beef has a supple texture, as well as a striking red and white contrast. Flaunting a marbling score of 10 and above, the Hokkaido’s snow beef’s namesake arose from its texture – which is said to be so delicate that it resembles snowflakes!

It’s no wonder that the Hokkaido Snow beef has such a fine melt-in-your-mouth consistency – the cattle are specially selected and raised at a private reserve in Hokkaido. They experience six months of winter, where the temperature is lower than the melting point of beef fats. This results in an intense sweetness and umami flavour with each bite.

That’s not all: the Hokkaido Snow Beef is A5 certified, and has an added exclusivity factor, as only one to three heads are harvested each month for top-notch quality assurance.

Availability on eStore: Steak (200g)

2. Ohmi A5 Wagyu

Ohmi Beef comes from the Black Japanese Cattle in Shiga Prefecture, where they are raised by the shores of Lake Biwa, which is the largest freshwater lake in Japan. The prefecture upholds strict environmental standards, which naturally translates to the quality of the beef. In fact, Ohmi Beef actually dates back to more than 400 years ago, where the Shogun served Ohmi Beef to his warlords – coining the nickname of ‘Emperors Beef’. The Ohmi Beef, alongside Kobe and Matsusaka Beef, also forms the ‘Holy Trinity’, which is considered by the Wagyu Connoisseurs to be Japan’s best beef producers.

The immaculate environment in which the cattle are raised results in tender and well-marbled beef, with rich fat content and a sweet finish. Ohmi beef offers a distinct taste and texture, with the A5 cut being highly sought after in the culinary world.

Availability on eStore: Steak (200g), Yakiniku (250g; sliced), Shabu-Shabu (250g; thinly sliced)

3. Kawaguchi Craft Wagyu A4

Now, this type of beef isn’t something that we see very often. Hailing from 100% family-owned Japanese farms, the beef is raised with ethical and environmentally-friendly practices. The Kawaguchi farm specialises in the Yasufukuhisa bloodline fattening method, where the cattle are fed with a special mixture of grains and handmade Miyakoganemochi rice flour, on top of straw from Sasanishiki, Hitomebore, and other leading rice varieties of Miyagi.

Such levels of care and devotion explicitly shine through in the taste and quality of the Craft Wagyu – teasing with a silky sweetness, the beef has an oily texture without being too greasy. Under the brand name of Sendai beef, the Craft Wagyu has attained the finest rank of beef! To distil this further, Craft Wagyu must meet five conditions, such as creativity, regional community, animal welfare, family-owned and technology. And looking at statistics, only 0.17% of the world’s 1.47 billion cows are Japanese Wagyu, with fewer than 1% of the Wagyu being certified as Craft Wagyu. Imagine that!

Availability on eStore: Steak (200g)

4. Makihara Craft Wagyu A5

Makihara Craft Wagyu comes from Makihara Farm, which sits on the Shirasu Plateau – that’s over 330,000 years old! – in Kagoshima Prefecture. It’s known for producing cattle that has a firm meat, packed with richness and flavour. Using technology and skills that have been passed down through generations, the farm uses grass-based plant feed to fatten their herd. The cattle are also individually monitored to ensure optimum living and maturing conditions.

This results in quality meat that has a low fat melting point – something that is found in a small fraction of the world’s Wagyu beef. Both the A4-certified Kawaguchi Craft Wagyu and A5-certified Makihara Craft Wagyu are available for a limited time only, so try them while you can!

Availability on eStore: Steak (250g), Shabu-Shabu (250g, thinly sliced)

5. Saga Gyu A5 Wagyu

Saga Prefecture is reputed for its immaculate climate and top farming conditions, making the Saga Gyu brand one of the best in over 200 brands of Japanese beef. Saga beef is raised in pristine situations using expert breeding techniques, enhanced by an ideal stress-free environment. Special care is dedicated towards the care and diet of the cattle, creating an A5-certified cut that has a beef marbling score of 7 and above.

If you need more assurance, beef can only carry the label of ‘Saga’ beef if it meets a strict standard of certification. The beef must also come from Japanese black cattle that has been farmed and fattened under the supervision of the JA Group (Saga branch), which is a Japan Agriculture association. Saga beef presents the ultimate indulgence – comprising succulent meat that has a distinct and ravishing fine-grained marbling (“tsuya-sashi”), complete with a glossy sheen.

Availability on eStore: Steak (200g), Yakiniku (250g; sliced), Shabu-Shabu (250g; thinly sliced)


All the beef cuts available on Sky Premium’s eStore are sourced via ADiRECT, our curated and trusted partner. Whip up your very own beef extravaganza at home – a feast awaits!

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For more information, contact our Lifestyle Team at lifestyle [at] today.