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If you’ve ever ordered Kobe beef at a restaurant in the U.S., you’ve almost certainly been had.
The scam that is the American “Wagyu” and “Kobe beef” industry is well–documented. Suffice to say, odds are you’re eating a pretty standard piece of U.S. beef, a hybrid of domestically raised Wagyu cattle and the increasingly Frankenstein’s monster-like approximation of Angus. There are no rules about what restaurants can claim on their menus.
In actuality, the cut of beef prized for its superior levels of fat marbling is incredibly rare. Only Wagyu cattle from the very specific Tajima bloodline—bred and raised in the Hyōgo prefecture, with Kobe as its capital—can be certified as Kobe. That’s just roughly 3,000 cattle per year.