How to Spot Real Wagyu Steak

You can guarantee that Googling the question, “what is the best steak?” will surely bring up Wagyu steak as one of the answers.

From Wagyu steak’s reputation, the demand, high quality, and limited supply give it value – which is why they’re typically rather expensive. Yet, some supermarkets and restaurants say they offer authentic Wagyu steak. For instance, Costco offers authentic Grade A5 Japanese Wagyu imported from Japan.

However, how can the average person know that Wagyu is real?

Due to the limited quantity and high price, authentic Wagyu isn’t easy to obtain. With that being said, some people wish to bank on Wagyu’s value by falsely advertising and providing fake Wagyu steak. Yet, it can be hard to discern the fake ones from the real ones.

So, how can you tell?

Find out how you can spot authentic Wagyu steak, so you don’t waste money on a fake.

What is Wagyu?

Before you can identify the tell-tale signs of real Wagyu steak, you need to understand what exactly it is. Knowing what Wagyu is can ensure you understand what you’re supposed to spot for authenticity.

Originating from Japanese beef cattle, Wagyu has garnered popularity since its genetic makeup has a bounty of intramuscular marbling. Why does marbling matter? Marbling is the thin streaks of fat dispersed evenly throughout the meat.

Since Wagyu steak has lots of marbling, this results in a more tender, flavourful cut. Alongside strict cattle rearing and regulations, Wagyu meat value is further increased by its fat being healthier, higher quality, and in limited supply.

How to Check for Authentic Wagyu

Thankfully, there are various ways to discern whether Wagyu that’s real or fake. Here are a few things to be on the lookout for below to help you figure it out.

Proof of Certification

One of the easiest ways to check if Wagyu steak is real is to see if a restaurant or store has a certificate of authenticity. Since Japan has high regulation standards regarding distribution, real Wagyu will come with such documentation since it provides important information about it.

These include details like:

  • Where the beef was sourced: Has the breed type and even has the tracking cattle ID numbers and nose prints as proof of the beef’s lineage being legitimate Wagyu.
  • The official grade from the Japanese Meat Grading Association: Authentic Wagyu beef must score A5 in all categories, which include – beef marbling score (BMS), beef colour standard (BCS), beef fat standard (BFS), and firmness & texture.

Also, another helpful tip is to check whether the sourced Wagyu is being referred to by its proper naming. Any Wagyu listed as ‘American-style Kobe beef'” is not real Japanese Wagyu. When Wagyu is referred to as ‘American Style Kobe,’ it’s technically a crossbreed of Japanese Wagyu cattle with continental cattle breeds (e.g. Angus).

The Appearance

What makes Wagyu so special is its distinct marbling pattern. Unlike other steaks, Wagyu should look pale pink with an intricate but noticeable marbling that’s white to showcase its fattiness.

The Price

Heard of the saying, ‘it’s too good to be true?’ If so, this is a phrase you need to apply when checking for the authenticity of Wagyu. You might think you’re getting a great deal for a luxurious steak, but there is a reason why Wagyu steak is expensive.

When you factor in the following costs:

  • Finances required to rear Wagyu
  • Meeting inspection standards
  • Exporting

All these costs generally amount to being pricier. For the most part, you can expect the starting cost for Wagyu to be $20 per ounce. The price can be higher depending on the quality and cut.

The Serving Size

Another important thing to consider when spotting fake Wagyu is serving size. If you happen to go to a restaurant that says they serve ‘Wagyu,’ you can tell if it’s fake if the serving size is large. When it comes to authentic Wagyu, it doesn’t accommodate large servings.

The Taste

Wagyu’s whole selling point and high value stem from its unique and exclusive taste. If you have tried plenty of steaks, you might find it easy to spot a fake. After all, Wagyu’s rich fattiness should melt at just below body temperature. What does that mean? Essentially, it should feel as if it’s melting in your mouth since it’s supposed to be incredibly tender and juicy with a buttery aroma. If it’s soggy, you got yourself a fake!

Being able to enjoy a Wagyu steak is a luxury in itself. It’s a unique steak that’s earned a reputation as a delicacy. Hopefully, this has helped ensure you find a delicious and 100% authentic Wagyu steak.