Wagyu Didn’t Know About Beef, Halal Beef in Canada
On November 27, a select group of foodies from the Toronto Area were invited to Affy’s Premium Grill in Pickering for a special event. Featured on the 7 course meal? 10oz Kobe-style Wagyu Halal Beef.
That may seem like a mouthful, but let’s break it down.
Kobe, similar to other classification terms like Angus have been popping up more and more as chefs rival to bring the best cuts of meat into their restaurants, to patrons who are ready to pay the pretty penny for these exclusive proteins.
What is Kobe beef? It’s considered to be the best beef available in the world due to its flavour, marbling and of course, tenderness as a result of all that intramuscular fat. It’s graded several steps above AAA/Prime cuts.
The story behind Kobe beef is interesting to say the least. They are a type of Wagyu (described below) that are from a small and isolated region in Japan called Kobe. Cattle were originally brought into the region as work animals to aid in rice harvesting. Since pasture space was limited, workers would massage the cattle’s muscles to prevent soreness and appetite loss. They also rub sake (rice wine) all over the animal’s hide believing that soft skin produces tender meat. Over time, the cattle blood-lines started developing unique genetic characteristics – one of which is the abundance of marbling. The main rule is that Kobe beef must be slaughtered in the Kobe region of Japan and branded with a chrysanthemum style logo.
According to this Toronto Star article, Kobe here in Canada is not likely the real deal but is still used as a marketing term to communicate that a very high quality, richly marbled beef. We’re seeing this same tactic used with the term Angus as well.
We now know that Kobe is nearly impossible to have in Canada – so as a halal alternative, it’s not even an option. But let’s introduce you to Wagyu.
Chefs like Afzal Bhatti are driven to bring the same culinary experiences to our community. For the first time, Chef Afzal has managed to secure Kobe-style Wagyu halal beef from Australia.
Which steak from the four raw pictured above is Wagyu halal beef? Interesting that when we posed this question on social media, many people related the cut with the higher marbling as “lower quality” and vice versa with the best cut being the one with the least amount of marbling. It’s actually the other way around.
Pictured on the far right (vertical) is AA. Then, horizontally from bottom to top: AAA, Prime and then at the very top, Wagyu halal beef. Surprise you?
Wagyu translates to Japanese Cow and covers several different breeds, including Kobe. These type of cattle are also genetically higher in a form of unsaturated fat resulting in meat that is highly marbled. It’s not the healthiest, but this is not something you’re going to experience every day, month or even year so I’ve decided to skip over nutritional information (this time!) Wagyu available here in Canada is most likely imported from the US or Australia.
By comparison, Kobe is still superior and virtually impossible to get in Canada. But Wagyu beef still ranks higher than the current halal beef offering we have in Toronto at any restaurant when looking at the level of marbling.
With the high marble rating (this one strikes a 9+ on the “official” charts) you need to have the steak done to medium at most. So if the redness pictured below scares you, maybe stick to fowl.
There are no plans to bring Kobe-style Wagyu Beef on to their regular menu, as the cost is high. There is a possibility that they could do special nights where advanced booking would be required. Perfect for real steak connoisseurs who understand and appreciate the taste, various classifications and grades of beef.
We’ll be sure to inform you if such nights do become available – but for now, express your interest directly with Affy’s and let’s see what happens!