Better Than Kobe Beef! Kyushu's High-End Miyazaki Beef Is a Must-Try
Wagyu. Juicy, divinely soft, and beautifully marbled. It is undeniably the best beef in the world. But there are actually quite a few different varieties of wagyu, each from a different region and lineage of cow. One of the finest is Miyazaki beef from Kyushu, and if you are a fan of Japanese food, beef, or just delicious things in general, keep reading, because this is one type of beef that you will want to add to your gourmet bucket list.
Mar 22 2021 (Mar 12 2021)
50 Shades of Wagyu
As mentioned briefly in the intro, there are actually many different kinds of "wagyu" (a Japanese word that can literally be translated as "Japanese beef/cow"). There are four main breeds of wagyu: Akage Wa-shu (Japanese Brown), Nihon Tankaku-shu (Japanese Shorthorn), Mukaku Wa-shu (Japanese Polled), and Kuroge Wa-shu (Japanese Black), the last of which makes up 90% of all wagyu cattle in Japan.
Beyond the breeds, many different regions across Japan have their own "brand" of wagyu, including places like Kobe, Matsuzaka, Yonezawa, and Miyazaki. While most of the famous wagyu brands are actually the same breed of cow (Japanese Black), the way that the cows are raised, the differing climates, feed, and so on, make for beef with distinct characteristics (to the experienced wagyu eater, at least).
In total, there are currently more than 320 different brands of wagyu across Japan, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Of those, however, only a handful are well-known nationwide.
One such brand that has gained attention both inside and outside of Japan is Miyazaki Beef, about which this article will go into detail.
Miyazaki, Where's That?
Miyazaki? Isn't that the name of the guy who made that Totoro movie?
It is, but it also happens to be the name of a Japanese prefecture that is located in the southern part of Kyushu, one of Japan's four main islands.
Miyazaki has a lovely mild climate and is known for its great beaches, beautiful "onsen" (hot springs), lush national parks, and friendly local hospitality. Despite being such a great place, it is one of the less-frequented prefectures by international tourists, making it a very good place to visit if you want to escape the crowds found in some of Japan's more famous prefectures.
Is Miyazaki Beef Really Better Than Kobe Beef?
We'll be honest: if you've never tasted real, high-end Japanese wagyu before, you will probably be blown away no matter what brand of wagyu you try.
The thing that sets wagyu apart from other types of beef is that the fat is spread nearly evenly throughout the red meat, rather than being consolidated in just a few places. This is called "shimofuri" or "sashi," meaning "marbling" in Japanese, and means that the meat is soft and easy to chew. People often describe it as "melting in your mouth," and there's a reason—the fat in wagyu actually melts at a lower temperature than the fat in other beef from cow breeds found outside of Japan.
If you've never experienced beef that literally melts in your mouth, you will likely be equally as impressed by Kobe beef as you are by Miyazaki beef. However, once you have a few wagyu meals under your belt, you might start to be intrigued by the differences between the brands.
For starters, we can compare the price. For a 500-gram sirloin steak (just the meat, not at a restaurant) Kobe Beef costs around 50,000 yen (500 U.S. dollars), while Miyazaki Beef costs around 15,000 yen (150 U.S. dollars). That's quite a gap, but it's likely that the difference speaks more to the demand for the world-famous Kobe Beef than to the actual quality of the meat.
When it comes to characteristics of the meat, Kobe Beef is known for its very delicate marbling, which is said to melt at even a lower temperature than other wagyu brands. Miyazaki Beef, however, is also known for its delicate marbling, as well as its smooth and mellow richness and excellent balance between red meat and fat. If you ate the two types of meat side-by-side, it would probably be pretty difficult to decide which was better.
This would then leave it up to the price, in which case Miyazaki Beef is the clear winner in terms of value for your money, hence the title of this article!
If Wolfgang Puck's Opinion Means Anything...
In case you were wondering, yes, Wolfgang Puck (the famous LA-based Austrian-American chef) would also pick Miyazaki Beef. In fact, that's exactly what the celebrity chef did at the 2018 official Oscars after-party, for which he has done the catering for the past 25 plus years. And, it turned out to be such a hit among Hollywood's top celebrities that he put it on the menu again at the next year's event as well, serving Miyazaki Beef tartare, mini burgers, and steak!
Puck even called it "one of my favorite dishes," so, there you go. Now you really have no excuse to not travel to Miyazaki to try it!
Must-Try Miyazaki Beef Restaurants in Miyazaki City
So, you've made the decision to travel to the amazing prefecture of Miyazaki for some hot springs, beaches, and Miyazaki Beef. Good choice! Here are some of our recommended restaurants that specialize in Miyazaki Beef. You can't go wrong with any of these!
Myogaya - For Miyazaki Beef Yakiniku
"Yakiniku" (Japanese-style barbecue) is one of the most popular ways to enjoy any sort of wagyu, and Miyazaki Beef is no exception. Since you can order small plates of various cuts of meat, you can compare the tastes and textures of all the different parts of the cow in one meal. Also, since you grill the meat yourself, you can cook and season each piece just the way you like it.
One of the very best yakiniku restaurants in Miyazaki City is called Myogaya. The restaurant has been run by the same owner for more than 30 years, and specializes in super-fresh meat (all of the meat served was butchered no more than two days before!). You can order a la carte from a selection of premium cuts like sirloin, filet, etc.; as well as a selection of "horumon" (offal) such as liver and tripe.
We suggest trying a bit of everything by going with the course meal, however, which is an affordable 5,500 yen and comes with appetizers, beef soup, and a hearty selection of both premium cuts of beef and horumon for grilling!
Miyachiku - for Miyazaki Beef Steak
Who doesn't love a great steak? In Japan, one of the most popular ways to eat high-end wagyu is at a "teppanyaki" restaurant, where each table or counter has a large griddle connected to it and the expert chef prepares your steak right in front of you. If you want a perfectly-cooked steak and an entertaining meal, this is a great way to go!
One of the best teppanyaki restaurants specializing in Miyazaki Beef is called Miyachiku. The restaurant is famous locally, and now even has a few branches in other parts of the country. The original restaurant in Miyazaki City, though, is the place to go.
Miyazaki Beef dinner meals come in a variety of options, ranging from a 150-gram red meat steak for 3,500 yen, up to a premium 120-gram filet for 12,600 yen. All of the meat is locally-raised Miyazaki Beef, and the quality is outstanding. The same options are also available at lunchtime for a slightly discounted price.
For a nice sit-down meal and some of the best steak you will ever eat (cooked right in front of you!), Miyachiku can't be beaten!
Lamp-Tei - for Miyazaki Beef Prepared With "Western" Techniques
Another interesting way to enjoy Miyazaki Beef is in "yoshoku," meaning "western cuisine." Japan is home to a surprisingly large number of yoshoku restaurants, most of which are run by Japanese chefs. The best places offer fresh Japanese ingredients prepared with French and other techniques, for outstanding cuisine you can't experience anywhere else.
In Miyazaki City, a restaurant called Lamp-Tei has been serving outstanding yoshoku cuisine with Miyazaki ingredients for over 40 years. Some of the delicacies to try include the red wine Miyazaki Beef tail stew, which has a divinely tender texture and rich, dark sauce; the Miyazaki Beef Hamburg steak, which just might be the juiciest Hamburg steak you ever try; or the reasonably-priced Western-style Miyazaki Beef sirloin or filet steaks.
There are also many other classic Japanese yoshoku dishes such as "omurice" (omelet rice), pasta, and fried foods, so there is plenty to enjoy other than just the beef. Give this place a try for a classic taste of retro Japanese yoshoku cuisine.
Miyazaki Beef Awaits in Miyazaki Prefecture!
So, what do you think? Is Miyazaki beef going on your gourmet bucket list? If so, we urge you to head to Kyushu to give Miyazaki beef a try. It's so darn good!
In any case, if you're the type who read all the way to the bottom of an article about food, it's probably one of the most important things that you consider when traveling, right? If that's the case, Kyushu just might be the perfect destination for you in Japan. From famous ramen to incredibly fresh seafood, to some of the best fruit in all of Japan, Kyushu is a gourmet paradise and one of the places that Japanese people travel to just to eat the food! If you're interested in learning more about this amazing island, check out the official website:
Visit Kyushu Official Website: https://www.visit-kyushu.com/en/
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Title image: PIXTA
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.