Fat is flavour, and a good cut of wagyu has this in spades.
The Japanese call it “Shimofuri”, a mesmerising web of frosted snow spread across a slab of raw, red meat.
Cattle ranchers in the US and Australia might have made the marbled beef more accessible (think wagyu burgers at mid-priced joints) but the Japanese have got the meticulous care they apply to almost everything they touch down pat. There might be no truth to the tales of cows being fed sake, sang to and massaged expertly, but the serene environment and sheltered comfort the Japanese cattle live in mean the quality of meat produced remains top-notch.
Here, we suss out six restaurants in Singapore that introduce wagyu from different prefectures on their menu.
01: Ushidoki Wagyu Kaiseki
What you get: Ozaki wagyu
Rogue farmer Manuharu Ozaki produced award-winning A5 grade wagyu for 10 years, until he took issue with beef that relied solely on good marbling.
Instead of the usual pre-packed high calorie feed given to cows bred for wagyu, Ozaki adds charcoal and seaweed to his feed to keep his cattle in prime health and to produce leaner, though still well-marbled, beef.
At Ushidoki, the chef imports a whole head of cattle from the single farm in Miyazaki, and showcases different cuts of Ozaki wagyu through a beef tongue consommé to a 3-kind wagyu sashimi moriawase and a sliver of wagyu rump wrapped around botan ebi and sea urchin.
#01-01, 57 Tras Street, Tel: 6221-6379
What you get: Joshu wagyu
It’s all about the art of shabu shabu (Japanese hot pot) at Sakurazaka, and the warmly-lit restaurant gives the option of adding on a 100gram serve of Joshu wagyu ribeye to your set dinner. The buttery slice of wagyu owes its flavour to the green mountains and clear waters of the Gunma prefecture, where the Japanese black cattle are raised. Swish the thin slices of marbled meat in the ago dashi (dried flying fish) broth that lends a mild sweetness to the cooked meat.
24 Greenwood Avenue, Tel: 6463-0333
03: Edge at Pan Pacific Singapore
What you get: Ohmi wagyu
Think of Ohmi as the wagyu fit for kings. Japanese history has it that it wasn’t until the emperor tried Ohmi and enjoyed it so much that the ban on beef consumption in the country was lifted in 1872, and even billionaire oil tycoon and Manchester City football club owner Sheikh Mansour has been known to favour the black Japanese cattle raised near the banks of Lake Biwa in the Shiga prefecture. Over at Edge’s new theatrical Sunday champagne brunch, guests get to help themselves to as much Ohmi wagyu at the live grill section as they can eat. An indulgent Sunday brunch worth toasting to, we think.
Level 3, Pan Pacific Singapore, Tel: 6826 8240
04: IKYU Singapore
What you get: Toriyama wagyu
Known as an ‘umami’ wagyu, Toriyama comes from Showa village in Gunma prefecture, and is evenly-marbled but not excessive, thanks to the cattle living at high altitudes and having their diets monitored closely. At Ikyu, executive chef Takuma Seki has a grain-fed Toriyama A4 full-blood wagyu on his menu, served lightly grilled over charcoal.
5 Yong Siak Street, Tel: 6223-9003
05: Fat Cow
What you get: Saga grade wagyu
It’s not just Kobe that has strict standards to abide by; Saga wagyu from its eponymous prefecture has to be certified too. The beef must be from a black-haired Japanese cow, bred in an agricultural association designated farm, and must meet a mark above seven out of 12 in the Beef Marbling Standard set by Japan Meat Grading Association. Raised under these strict conditions in a peaceful climate, the fine-grained marbled meat is simply grilled to medium doneness (so it won’t purely taste like a stick of butter in the mouth) and served as it is at Fat Cow.
1 Orchard Boulevard, Camden Medical Centre, Tel: 6735-0308
06: Emporium Shokuhin
What you get: Miyazaki wagyu
Known for its cherry-red hue and succulent buttery flesh, the A5 Miyazaki beef from Miyazaki prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu is brought in by new Japanese gourmet grocer Emporium Shokuhin. The beef is available at the dining concepts Takujo Japanese Dining and Gyuu+ Yakiniki Grill, but here’s the best part: cuts like Miyazaki ribeye and shabu shabu are available for retail at the deli. The perfect excuse to load up your basket, head back home and savour the rich fatty goodness for days.
Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard, #01-18