Where’s the Beef?
Meat in Japan… Carnivores listen close and pay heed. Herbivores, not so much; go back to your grazing.
Let’s establish some facts:
- You can purchase basically any meet in Japan that you could in the US
- Chicken, pork, beef are all available
- The prices vary considerably
- Japan is not very meat-centric.
- Fish is favored
- Inexpensive and low quality cuts of land-meat are favored.
When we get a chicken sandwich in the West we know what to expect. Nice white meat chicken breast. In Japan what you get is something different entirely.
If I were to describe it… it is legally chicken. So it came from some part of the bird’s carcass, yes. But what part, I am at a loss to tell you. It is a slimy sort of dark meet with connective tissue. It is not at all enjoyable and a serious let down for someone expecting a real chicken sandwich.
A Whole Chicken
I don’t know about you, but growing up in the US of A, we would sometimes have ourselves a ‘Sunday Dinner’ where we would roast up a chicken with all the fixin’s; like a mini Thanksgiving.
In Japan, you will be hard-pressed to find an actual whole bird. They take a definite effort to locate, and only come in one size… 5lbs. And they cost anywhere from $20 to $30. (compare that to a rotisserie chicken from Sams Club or Costco for $5).
Ground beef is very lean in Japan, it is hard to find what we would classify as ‘ground beef chuck’ in the US. Ground chuck is perfect for making hamburgers. I don’t even know what I could use their ground beef for. Certainly not hamburgers, meatballs, tacos, or anything else.
My dear carnivores, lay your weary head on my shoulders.
You’ll find the portion size of land-meat servings in Japan are absurdly insufficient. A curry, a beef soup, or a stew would only have a few tidbits of meet amongst a sea of veggies. Meat is used sparingly. So don’t be surprised with you order your curry beef only to find two pieces of meat. Damn this scarcity!
The Japanese turn to fish as their meat of choice.
- It is VERY plentiful (as they are an island nation where fisheries abound)
- It is VERY inexpensive.
- Japan is VERY small and does not have much domestic live stock
- Japan imports much meat, and therefore it is costly.
- Land-meat was always a minority in their culture.
- Red meat is avoided generally for perceived health reasons
The Good Stuff
Ok, enough about the horrendous meat situation in Japan. Let’s talk about the good stuff: Kobe beef.
Kobe beef is legendary, it melts in your mouth and is dripping with fat. Indeed, the cows in Kobe are made as fat as possible so their flesh will be marbled with fatty tissue.
A decent piece of Kobe beef starts at around $50 and can go as high as $500 for the best of the best of the best.
Having many distinct regions, Japan has much more than Kobe beef to offer, others include:
- Matsusaka beef
- Ohmi beef
- Yonezawa beef
A visit to Japan is not complete without experiencing the joys of these succulent beef miracles.