Wagyu beef sliced thinly on a cutting board
How Japanese A5 Wagyu Beef Gets The Highest Grade In Its Class
By Haldan Kirsch
Wagyu beef is prized for its marbling and texture, and it undergoes a strict classification system from the Japanese Meat Grading Association to track which beef is the real deal.
Yield and grade determine the A5 grade. The yield looks at the weight of the meat compared to the carcass, and the grade measures the marbling, color, fat, firmness, and texture.
The yield factor is represented by a letter, with the highest available being an A. The grade is then determined by a number between zero and five, where five is the best.
It takes perfect scores across the board to earn the coveted A5 grade that signifies the highest standard of Wagyu beef. Japanese vendors won't even sell anything below an A3.
While Wagyu is the term that refers to a specific breed of Japanese cattle that have unique marbling, Kobe beef is the term used for Wagyu beef from the Hyogo prefecture in Japan.
Kobe has a particular definition because it is often the highest quality of Wagyu beef with a grade of four or five. Kobe beef, especially the A5, is under strict regulations.
As of 2020, less than 40 American restaurants were certified to serve the A5 Kobe beef. The easiest way to get real Kobe beef is probably to go to Japan.