Why am I still writing about my Christmas vacation in March? I procrastinate too much -- putting off writing for tomorrow ... or how about Friday? Next week?
Well dear reader, if you thought that you were going to read about Fukuoka till the cows came home ... here is the absolute last post.
I hope you will be "moo-lified".
From the bad puns, you will have guessed what this post is about.
Steak is not high on my list of favourites but once in a "rare" while, I do get a hankering for a nice piece of beef. This usually happens when I am in Japan as wagyu -- with its unparalleled marbling, is my beef of choice.
While westerners may not like wagyu for this very same character, this is what I feel makes it unique and deliciously different.
Jay and I were strolling around Canal City when we came upon Beef Taigen, a popular wagyu chain in Fukuoka.
There were quite a lot of interesting photos outside the restaurant. This shows the select group of ranchers from Kagoshima Prefecture who raise the black cows and supply Beef Taigen with all grades of wagyu.
I did a bit of research and discovered that more than two thirds of the black cows in Japan come from Kagoshima. Of course there are other types of Japanese cows but black cows are what we normally associate wagyu with.
Kobe and Matsuzaka may be more well known but Kagoshima is the "moo-ther" lode (sorry for another bad pun!)
A butcher's chart is also displayed outside. I try to guess what the various parts are but can only come up with the rump (10 or 11?) ) and the tongue or cheeks perhaps, another obvious guess.
Would ribs be number 7? And is that oblong shape beside the number 15 tenderloin?
I guess I will never make it to butcher school.
The branch in Canal City is always full of shoppers and tourists since the prices for meals are very reasonable. One of the specials is a wagyu hamburg steak for the very attractive price of just 1,100 yen.
While long queues are normal during lunch and dinner time, we arrive way past noon and are seated right away. The steak of the day is 3,000 yen which we are told is a 150 gram sirloin.
We order that and a hamburg steak.
After a while our lunch trays are brought out. Jay's sirloin steak setto came with a bowl of rice, miso soup, salad and three types of condiments -- seasoned salt, and two types of shoyu based sauces. Freshly grated wasabi is also included and Jay said that wasabi and salt on steak was a delicious discovery for him.
I could not quite believe that this generous serving weighed just 150 grams. Surely they must have made a mistake?
But the menu clearly stated that all cuts of beef are 150 grams and all orders are served medium rare, unless the customer specifies otherwise. Medium rare is how we normally order --
I think it is the ideal doneness for an excellent cut of steak.
I had the hamburg steak or hambaagu as the Japanese call it, since the waitress said it was their specialty. Of course my secret plan was to swipe a piece or two from Jay's sirloin.
With the combined beefy aromas rising from our respective hot plates, I knew that our clothes would smell of wagyu for the rest of the day.
The Japanese hambaagu steak should never be thought of as a hamburger steak -- they should not even be mentioned in the same breath.
Beef Taigen's hambaagu is made with only the best cuts of prime grade wagyu, definitely no gristle, no extenders. The patty is simply seasoned with salt and pepper, to bring out the undeniable flavour of superior beef.
Like Jay's steak, my hambaagu is cooked medium rare -- lightly pink inside with a nice even lightly charred exterior.
Jay is down to his last piece of steak -- and he's eating it and not giving it to me.
I did get a taste of the sirloin and it was every bit as delectable as I had known it would be.
The marbling increases the flavour aside from making the meat so mouth meltingly tender.
I raised a toast to the Kagoshima black cow to thank him for his sacrifice of top quality
beef goodness. He did not die in vain -- he fulfilled our wildest wagyu wishes.
And of course, here's a toast to finally finishing up this Fukuoka series.
I hope that by reading my posts, you'll be inspired to visit one of these days.
If you do, head to Canal City and pay homage to wagyu at Beef Taigen.