Red The Steakhouse Has Kobe From Japan: Is It Worth The Expense?

Laine Doss
Red is serving Kobe from Japan.
Peter Vauthy, chef/partner at Red the Steakhouse, greets me with the usual hellos, then asks the question that looms like a giant invisible bovine in the room. "Want to see my meat?"

Vauthy isn't being fresh. He just knows I came to Red to see and taste his Kobe beef.

What's all the fuss? Any steakhouse worth its bones has Kobe on the menu..or does it? Most restaurants in Miami and around the United States serve Kobe-style beef, which means steak from Wagyu cattle. Wagyu cattle can be raised anywhere. Only Wagyu raised in Japan and certified by the Kobe Beef Distribution & Promotion Council can truly be Kobe beef.

And, until August of this year, it simply wasn't available outside of Japan, Macau, or Hong Kong. This was due in part to hoof and mouth disease and radiation concerns on the part of the USDA and intense demand and not enough product for export (only about 3,000 cows are certified Kobe) on the Japanese side of the equation.

But, according to Reuters, the U.S. has started accepting Kobe in this country from cattle slaughtered on, or after, August 18, after those cows were found to meet the U.S. standards.

Which leads us to my getting a call from the people at Red The Steakhouse, asking if I wanted a little taste of the meat in question. I've eaten Wagyu and found it to be flavorful with a silky texture. That comes from the intense marbling in the meat. But how does the Kobe stand up and, more importantly, is it worth the expense?

Certificate of authenticity for Kobe beef from Japan.
Before dining, Vauthy showed me pictures of the beef and the certificate of authenticity that comes with it. A Kobe cow can be heifer or steer (interesting side note -- the heifer must be a virgin to be sacrificed in the name of Kobe), but authentic Kobe beef comes with a certificate complete with nose print of the cow, weight, birth date, harvest date, and name. Tonight, I would be eating Hanamaru (ID number 0847313400), a 27-month-old heifer.

The steak (which will forever be known as Hana to me), was served thinly sliced, with only a hint of seasoning. Seared on the outside and rare, it was as if chef Vauthy gently kissed Hana with the intense heat of his grill.

The steak was tender beyond belief. It's an unbelievable experience. The meat literally...figuratively...melted as I ate it. I hate the word "mouthfeel", but I've got to use it this one time, because meat this tender is a little otherworldly. The Kobe tasted mild. Subtle. There isn't that sharp metallic assault of blood and mineral that you can get from steak. Instead, the meat is grassy and sweet. This is a cow that was treated well for her short life on this planet (though the claims of sake massages and a strict beer diet are highly exaggerated).

Red, the Steakhouse sells a 10-oz.serving of Kobe beef for $199. In comparison, the restaurant's American bred Wagyu, harvested from Lone Mountain Cattle Company 100 percent Japanese bloodline stock, is $129 for a 16-oz. steak. For those of you on a "budget", a 16-oz. aged-certified Angus USDA Prime steak will run you $41 for a 16-oz. rib eye. Which raises the question: is a steak worth the cost of a weekend in the Bahamas? The answer is a qualified yes.

Though it may be an extreme luxury, if you can afford it (and only if you can afford it), you should experience a steak of this quality at least once. The taste and texture are worth the price of admission to the circus. If you're on a budget, Kobe (like the shiny new BMW and the trip to Paris) should be shelved in order to pay the mortgage.

At least you know which restaurant to suggest next time your boss (or Mitt Romney) says, "My treat."

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Location Info

Red the Steakhouse

119 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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I would like to point out that while this is Wagyu Beef, and is from Japan, it is still NOT Kobe. Kobe Beef must come from the city of Kobe and the prefecture of Hyogo, this product is "Satsuma Wagyu" from the town of Kagoshima in the prefecture of Kagoshima. Additionally, your repeated use of the word "cow" is quite incorrect because a "cow" is a female bovine animal that has calved (had babies) (see: Cow meat is usually soft, poorly textured, and has yellow fat. Heifer as you mention is a female that has not calved, and these are nearly indistiguishable from Steers (casturated males). Bull (adult males with intact genitalia) meat is even worse. The lack of knowledge in this blog consistently astounds me.

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