Following a two-year hiatus, Japanese beef is finally back in American restaurants, and Las Vegas chefs couldn’t be happier. Because of an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in 2010, full-bred Japanese cattle or wagyu—which includes the celebrated Kobe breed—was banned from import into the U.S. In the meantime, high-end restaurants such as Cut in the Palazzo had been substituting Australian wagyu, cattle that is purportedly bred and cared for in the same manner as its Japanese counterpart (massaged daily, fed sake, serenaded with Frank Sinatra, etc.).
And the difference between the real deal and cattle from other countries raised wagyu-style? Well, it’s subtle, according to Cut executive chef Matt Hurley, who is now getting his beef from the Saga prefecture of Kyushu. Hurley says that you can truly tell in the marbling, or the striations of fat that run through the muscle. The distinct manner in which the thin lines of white fat course through the Japanese specimens means that this meat can literally melt on your tongue. And now you can taste the difference for yourself as all the top steak houses in town start to get their own shipments in from Japan. Just don’t get us started on Kobe burgers.