Crowd Cow is proud to bring you Japan's most award-winning Wagyu to America for the first time for sale online: Iwate Wagyu.
In Japan, there are hundreds of locally-produced varietals of Japanese Wagyu. And like wine regions in Europe, each have their own unique characteristics, histories and flavor profiles influenced by how the animals are raised, what they eat and the terroir. Don’t believe me? Consider only that the humble cow is much more sophisticated than a grape!
While Kobe Beef is undoubtedly the most famous (and usually the most expensive) Wagyu in Japan, there are hundreds of brands and regional varieties, and many of them are just as well-known and highly esteemed inside of Japan. Kobe beef is the only one that's achieved great fame outside of Japan. But fame doesn’t necessarily equate to quality.
Besides 100% traceability, exquisite marbling and rare varieties like Olive Wagyu, Japan’s cattle industry is obsessed with ratings, and regularly holds contests in every cattle-producing region of Japan at the local, provincial and national level.
One of the most important competitions held at the national level is the National Grading Competition, or Zenkoku Edaniku Kyoureikai (全国枝肉共励会 in Japanese), which is run annually in Japan. Iwate Wagyu (Kuroge-wagyu from Iwate Province) has earned the top prize more times than any other region: They’ve won it 11 times.
I've attended a bunch of Edaniku Kyoureikai (枝肉共励会) in Japan at the local and regional level. The primary activity of these are to grade each individual carcass, which takes place via manual inspection by 3 highly trained graders. The quality and degree of marbling is by far the most important factor in earning a championship.
The Zenkoku Edaniku Kyoureikai contest shouldn’t be confused with the so-called "Wagyu Olympics," or Zenkoku Wagyu Nouryoku Kyoureikai (全国和牛能力共進会 or 和牛のオリンピック in Japanese). The Wagyu Olympics is run by an organization known as the National Wagyu Beef Promotion Association (全国和牛能力共進会 in Japanese) whereas the National Beef Carcass Competition is run by the National Beef Carcass Cooperative Association (全国肉用牛枝肉共励会 in Japanese). The Wagyu Olympics is held once every 5 years, and in 2017, Kagoshima Wagyu earned the highest average score across all competitive categories, and Olive Wagyu picked up the top prize for fat quality.
By the way, these awards were given after we discovered and imported the beef for sale on Crowd Cow. How did we know they were so good? The kind farmers in Awaji Island (an area of Hyogo Prefecture that produces the most Kobe Beef) told me! And I tasted it.
Your’s truly at a cattle auction in Japan
Anyway, the National Beef Carcass Competition is a significant National competition and is important to Japanese Wagyu producers. For winners, it's a distinguished honor and source of pride for many years of hard work and dedication. It's recognition of have created some of the very best Wagyu that Japan has to offer.
So, how does Iwate Wagyu taste?
(Iwate Wagyu is known for its exquisite balance between umami and sweetness.)
We are proud to bring Iwate Wagyu to America for sale on Crowd Cow. We think you'll delight in its hallmark sweetness, rich umami and clean finish.
The slogan in Japanese:
In English (roughly):
"The extreme apex of taste in Japan, for you too."