Biting into a tender and marbled piece of Japanese wagyu beef is one of the greatest pleasures of a meat lover’s life. Meat like this comes at a high premium, though, and it’s not like you can just roll up to a Whole Foods and buy several pounds of it. There are plenty of restaurants in New York City that offer wagyu beef dishes, but if you’re lucky enough to be downtown, you can stop by the butcher Japan Premium Beef in Noho, which specializes almost exclusively in Japanese and American wagyu.
Stepping inside Japan Premium Beef is like walking into a high end boutique, only instead of being surrounded by fancy hand bags and jewelry, you’re surrounded by expensive meats. I found myself staring at a huge slab of A5 ribeye that was priced at $130 a lb and was simultaneously fascinated and intimidated. As a quick primer, true wagyu beef is from four specific breeds of Japanese cows–Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn. Japan Premium Beef imports wagyu beef from the Miyazaki prefecture of Japan that is rated “A5”, an indicator of its exceptional quality.
If you’re not quite ready to splurge on the Japanese wagyu, you can always buy domestic washugyu beef, which is from a domestic breed that is a blend of Japanese Black wagyu and American Black Angus. Washugyu will still cost you a pretty penny, but instead of an arm and leg, it’ll just be a leg.
So how do you prepare this beef at home? You don’t want to ruin your precious meat by overcooking it or something like that. Luckily, prepping this meat is extremely easy, and the butcher will give you some very helpful tips on how to cook it. For instance, on my visit, I told the butcher that I wanted to eat it like a steak, so he portioned out pieces that were ~0.75 lb each. He told me that all I needed to do was season the meat with salt and pepper beforehand and then pan fry the meat in some sizzling wagyu beef fat–which he will provide for free!–for several minutes on each side. Unfortunately my gas is down so I had to cook this on the surface of a hot pot machine, which doesn’t get as hot as a gas stovetop, but putting the seared steaks in the oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes did just the trick.
You don’t need to do anything extra to the meat because it will taste so good on its own. Really, the flavor of the meat is so flavorful and extraordinary. It will make you question whether you need to go to a restaurant and eat a steak because you can make something so good at home. The butcher also recommended dipping the meat in some wasabi, which he sells at the shop, and again, his recommendation was right on the nose. Next time I might work my way up to the A5, but right now I am more than happy that I settled for the washugyu, and I felt like i had won the grand prize, not second best.
Japan Premium Beef
59 Great Jones St (between Lafayette St and Bowery)
New York, NY 10012
**The store is currently open during the covid pause. They are operating the Noho store Tue-Thur from 11-8 pm and Fri-Sun from 11-9 pm.**