What’s the Difference Between U.S., Japanese & Australian Wagyu Beef

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If you’re a meat aficionado, you know that Wagyu reigns king. In Seattle, Wagyu is a much coveted type of beef and for good reason. Lady Jaye carries top tier Wagyu from Japan, Australia and the West Coast of the United States. Some of Lady Jaye’s Wagyu is locally sourced right here in Washington state! You better believe, we believe in nothing but the best for our customers. 


Other West Seattle restaurants can’t hold a candle to our rotating, boutique menu. It’s what makes Lady Jaye’s Seattle steak superior. Lady Jaye’s methods of sourcing are sustainable, reduce consumer footprint, and above all taste fresh, because, well, it actually is. You’re not going to find better Seattle Wagyu. 


To fully appreciate your Wagyu experience at our Seattle butcher shop it’s important to understand the similarities and differences between US, Japanese and Australian Wagyu. Here’s everything you need to know, so you can enjoy every bite.

What Are The Similarities Between U.S., Japanese And Australian Wagyu?

In Japan, Wagyu cattle are all descendents of Japanese Black, Japanese Shorthorn, Japanese Polled or Japanese Brown cows. No matter the origin of the meat, Wagyu in general is considered to be a delicacy in the culinary world due to its high fat content. 


Wagyu is characterized by its buttery, subtly sweet flavor with the perfect amount of umami. It’s melt-in-your-mouth perfection. 


Here in the United States, there are roughly 40,000 cattle that are bred for American Wagyu. Around 5,000 of those are full-blood Wagyu. Since 1997, American Wagyu has become even more of a delicacy than it was previously and that’s because Japan stopped exporting the breed deeming it a “national treasure.” 


In both Australia and the United States, Japanese Wagyu cattle have been cross-bred with other highly coveted breeds. You can still get your hands on full-blooded Wagyu stateside, it’s more challenging … but not impossible.

Cattle Environment

All Wagyu, regardless of origin, must be born and raised in a stress-free environment. This is why it’s crucial to know the origin of your Wagyu. We recommend buying your Wagyu from a reputable butcher or doing research on the farm where the animal was raised. Animals raised under duress release cortisol which isn’t only bad for the taste and texture of the meat, it’s simply bad for the cattle. 


No matter the origin of the meat, there are many ways you can prepare Seattle Wagyu to fit your taste. You can either get creative after visiting Lady Jaye’s Seattle butcher shop or you can simply enjoy the meat without any flourishes. It’s the dealer’s choice with all three of these kinds of Wagyu.

What are the differences between Japanese, U.S and Australian Wagyu?

Now that you have a basic understanding of Wagyu and why everyone loves it so much, let’s get into the nitty gritty. The most obvious difference between US, Japanese and Australian Wagyu is origin. Although all are descended from Japanese cattle, the country indicates where the beef was raised. 


The United States, Japan and Australia are three distinctly different environments and that ultimately changes that taste and composition of the Wagyu. If raised outside of Japan, Wagyu is often a mixed breed, rather than a full blooded Japanese breed. Here’s why each type of wagyu is unique.

Japanese Wagyu

Wagyu literally translates to “Japanese cow”. Japanese Wagyu is the most traditional type of Wagyu. A5 is the highest quality ranking you can find for Japanese Wagyu. Its marbling creates the buttery flavor it’s most famous for. It’s the tenderest of the three and has an intense umami flavor. Most people find that a few bites of Japanese Wagyu is all they need to feel satiated. 


Japanese Wagyu are fed for 600 days or more and kept in as stress-free an environment as possible. The longer feeding time makes Japanese Wagyu more tender, juicy, and larger than the other types. 


If you’re looking for the traditional, umami-forward qualities associated with Wagyu, Japanese Wagyu is definitely the way to go.

U.S. Wagyu

Most American Wagyu is cross-bred with angus beef. Thankfully, the USDA has defined Wagyu as needing to be 49.875% pureblood. This prevents farms from upcharging for meat that doesn’t meet this strict criteria. 


U.S. Wagyu is highly marbled and will melt in your mouth. Although it has less marbling than Japanese Wagyu, it’s absolutely delicious. Honestly, the lower fat content probably makes it a more health conscious choice. U.S. Wagyu is best grilled, roasted or pan seared. 

Australian Wagyu

Australia has a completely different grading system for Wagyu than the other two countries. Both of Australia’s grading systems (Ausmeat and MSA) are scored based on marbling. The grading system falls between 0-9. If there’s a Wagyu that is better than a 9, it’s scored 9+. 


Australian Wagyu is raised more quickly than Japanese Wagyu, which increases the amount of marbling in Australian meat. Australian Wagyu tends to be less expensive, because it doesn’t take as long to raise. 


It’s important to note that there’s a lot of variance even within the same country, because different farms in the same country can be located in different climates and ecosystems. Also, each farm will have their own practices which will change the taste and texture of the beef. 


In Seattle, Wagyu isn’t always on the menu but when it is, people should run, not walk, to Lady Jaye, to get their hands on the best Wagyu beef Seattle has to offer. Seattle Wagyu is also available for purchase in Lady Jaye’s Seattle butcher shop at select times! 


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