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The rarer cuts of beef in Singapore, and where to find them

Here’s the lowdown on less-known Japanese beef offered at restaurants here.

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Beef in Japan

01: KUMAMOTO

ME@OUE

BREED Japanese brown

RAISING METHOD Kumamoto cows are grass-fed, unlike most wagyu cows, which are grain-fed. The Kumamoto red wagyu is the only free-grazing cattle in Japan.

TASTE Leaner, more chewy, and lacks excess fat. It retains tenderness and has a mellow flavour.

WHAT’S THE BEEF The popular choice for “healthier” beef, due to lower fat content.

(RELATED: The Peak Expert: Dry-Aged Beef Now In More Upscale Gourmet Grocers in Singapore.)

02: OZAKI

USHIDOKI WAGYU KAISEKI

BREED Japanese black

RAISING METHOD Seaweed and charcoal are mixed into the feed. No antibiotics or preservatives are used – instead, two fresh batches are prepared daily. The cattle is slaughtered between 32 and 36 months, older than normal practice, for better flavour.

TASTE Leaner, but still well-marbled beef. Flavoursome without being too rich, and easily digestible.

WHAT’S THE BEEF This is the only wagyu named after the farmer who raised the cattle. Muneharu Ozaki wanted to focus more on flavour, instead of solely relying on marbling, to determine the quality of meat.

03: MATSUSAKA

SWISS BUTCHERY

BREED Japanese black

RAISING METHOD Rice straw from local farms is added to the feed of wheat, soya bean, hay and corn. The cattle is fed beer to maintain healthy appetites and given body massages with a shochu mixture for smooth blood circulation.

TASTE High fat content – no oil is needed to cook it. Literally melts in the mouth. Highly marbled – usually scores above 8.

WHAT’S THE BEEF These are female cows produced in the Hyogo prefecture and taken to the Mie prefecture to be fattened. Only 2,500 Matsusaka heifers are slaughtered every year, making them uncommon and hence, pricey.

04: TORIYAMA (FAMILY)

HUBER’S, IKYU

BREED Japanese black

RAISING METHOD Benefits from the clean air and clear water from the Tanigawa Mountains. Fodder is fermented.

TASTE Evenly marbled, with a more “beefy” flavour. Very umami – can be measured numerically.

WHAT’S THE BEEF The family-owned farm has technology to measure umami level in both the fat and meat – resulting in a production manual based on data.

(RELATED: Stellar’s Chef Christopher Millar reveals the secret to tastier Wagyu beef.)

05: AOMORI

NEKKID, SAKURAZAKA, FOOD XERVICES

BREED Holstein Friesians

RAISING METHOD The cattle are fed spring water from Mount Hakkoda and fermented feed that contains high-moisture rice. This produces oleic acid, which gives that umami taste.

TASTE Creamy and smooth – rich beefy flavour unlike grass or grain-fed beef. Very juicy and tender.

WHAT’S THE BEEF These Holstein Friesians steer are just 20 months old when slaughtered, contributing to the juicy taste.