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Wagyu is synonymous with exquisite beef. Technically, however, it isn’t the meat itself but rather the cattle — and, contrary to popular belief, it is not a breed of cattle but rather a collection of four different Japanese breeds. The vast majority of beef sold as wagyu comes from the Japanese Black cattle. This is the type of wagyu people think of when they think of wagyu. 

Ironically considering it’s now renowned for the highest quality beef, for much of Japanese history beef wasn’t eaten at all. This is generally thought of to be due to the Buddhist influence and subsequent prohibition by the emperor, and it wasn’t until the Meiji Restoration and foreign influences of the mid-late 1800s when beef came back into the popular Japanese palate. 

Famously, what makes wagyu so popular is its unrivaled marbling of intramuscular fat. Again, this is primarily true of the Japanese Black cattle, hence why it makes up over 90% of wagyu beef. The result is beef that is extremely rich and sweet. 

Unlike what we traditionally associate with animal products, Japanese Black wagyu has a higher monounsaturated fat content. This fat melts at a lower temperature than saturated fat — not to mention it being healthier, too — and that’s where the “melt-in-your-mouth” feeling comes from. Because it does melt in your mouth! 

Because of wagyu’s richness and price, you likely won’t find yourself eating a huge wagyu meal. But the delicate, full flavor is unlike anything else and brings a greater experience in three bites than any other meat does in three full steaks. 

For those craving the experience, Uwajimaya’s butchery offers many cuts of wagyu.