The three-year import ban of Japanese Kobe beef has been lifted, and Las Vegas restaurants like Old Homestead Steakhouse at Caesars Palace are embracing the chance to serve this storied meat to its hungry customers. Yes, it’s storied.
According to venerable historical records, specifically Wikipedia, Kobe beef refers to cuts of beef from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle from Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. This renowned, and, now that we think of it, storied, beef is flavorful and tender due to its marbling.
We stopped by the kitchen at Old Homestead Steakhouse to get a peek at this rare meat. (See what we did there? Rare. Please try and keep up.) As one of the chefs at Old Homestead put it, most beef called “Kobe” is meat with a lot of marbling. Authentic Japanese Kobe beef is “marbling with some meat.”
Lots of dishes around Vegas are still billed as featuring Kobe beef, but only recently was real Japanese Kobe beef made available, so those other options are “Kobe-style,” not the real deal.
This popular meat is at such a premium, a 5-ounce serving at Old Homestead Steakhouse goes for $120, with a 10-ounce serving clocking in at $200. But before your jaw drops too far, note that the current prices for Japanese Kobe beef are comparatively low. Those in the know anticipate prices could rise as much as 60% in the weeks and months to come, depending upon the supply and demand.
We chatted with Old Homestead’s Chef Kir Lewis and asked what makes this beef so special. And, from what we’ve heard earlier in this blog post, storied.
“The Kobe beef from Japan, well, there’s just nothing that compares to it,” says Chef Lewis. “It melts in your mouth. It’s almost like butter. As a chef, when you cut it, it melts like butter, so you have to cut it quickly. It’s very exciting to prepare, and very exciting to have it on our menu.”
Here’s the finished product at Old Homestead Steakhouse.
We asked if there were any special techniques used to prepare it, too. “A common way of preparing Kobe beef is to triple sear it. You sear it once with salt, then put it in a little bit of soy and sear it again to get the flavor carmelized on it, put it back on with the mirin (a Japanese condiment) just for a few seconds because the sugars in the mirin will burn. Currently, though, we’re doing a simple grilling for a nice crust on the outside. It’s very enjoyable,” says the chef, grinning ear-to-ear. Chefs do seem to love themselves some extreme marbling.
What’s been the customer reaction been so far? “We’re getting a lot of people ordering and loving it. I’m shocked, honestly. It’s out the door as quickly as we can get it. Typically, you’d expect seven orders in a week, but we’re getting seven orders on one table.”
Yep, Japanese Kobe beef is definitely back.
Here’s an ordering tip if you want to splurge and give Japanese Kobe beef a try: According to Chef Lewis, “We do get customers ordering medium-well, but I’d go with medium-rare medium, definitely.”
So, give it a taste and let us know what you think of this distinctive, deservedly storied, beef.