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What Is Waygu Beef—And Is It Worth Ordering?

You don’t need a six-figure salary to visit a steakhouse…unless you’re looking at the wagyu beef section, of course. Seriously, the price of wagyu steaks on a steakhouse menu is enough to take your breath away. The smallest wagyu steak costs more than the largest filet mignon (the most expensive regular steak on the menu). On average, wagyu beef can run more than $200 per pound (that’s $12.50 per ounce!), so what gives? Why is wagyu beef so expensive, and could this uber-expensive steak actually be worth it?

What is Wagyu Beef?

The word wagyu has a pretty literal translation: “wa” means Japanese, and “gyu” is cow. But that doesn’t mean that any Japanese cow qualifies. Wagyu beef breeds are carefully selected, and genetic testing is used to ensure only the best are allowed into the program. By paying so much attention the genetics, the beef becomes genetically predisposed to have a higher quality than most steaks, and this tender, well-marbled beef really does taste better than the competition.

In Japan, only four types of cattle are used: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn. American wagyu programs primarily use Japanese Black, although there are a few Japanese Brown in …read more

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