With so much similarity between standard restaurant menus, and increased competition for patrons and diner revenue, business owners have to keep innovating new and trending menu items. While food trends change seasonally and annually, one of the hottest trends right now, is quality Wagyu beef.
Consumers can’t visit their local store and find Wagyu. The price of the beef makes it prohibitive for most grocery stores to carry, unless it is offered by pound and custom portioned at the butcher counter. It is because of this scarcity that the fascination and demand for Wagyu beef persists. It is understood by diners to be the pinnacle of quality beef, and sometimes difficult to acquire.
This is good news for five-star and premium dining establishments, who can capitalize on the trend and scarcity to provide crowd pleasing appetizers. Why appetizers and not entrees? Because of the premium cost per pound for quality Wagyu beef, menus that offer entrees must do so at a higher price per serving ratio that is not always marketable to every customer and their budget.
When restaurants opt to add Wagyu to the menu, they typically begin with some savory and incredible appetizers. The low-carb diet preference that is trending (along with keto and paleo diets) means that an appetizer that is rich is protein and exceptional flavor can quickly become a sales leader for your establishment.
At Miami Beef® we supply luxury dining establishments with quality Wagyu beef, and other premium options including American Style Kobe beef. We’d like to share some of our inspirations for appetizers that center on premium Japanese beef we think your customers will love.
What You Need to Know About the Quality Standards of Wagyu
Developed in Japan, the native Asian cattle called “Wagyu” are internationally recognized as the pinnacle quality of beef. In Japanese ‘Wa’ is translated as Japan, and ‘Gyu’ simply means cow. While the name may not hold much intrigue, the origins of this exceptional quality beef certainly does.
Cattle genetics experts have determined that Wagyu may have developed as a unique breed more than 35,000 years ago. Japan has a number of native cattle that reflect many different imported breeds. For generations, the consumption of meat was illegal under Buddhist rule in Japan, and all cattle were used for agricultural purposes; they were draft animals for plowing.
A political shift in Japan in 1868 allowed the Japanese to eat beef, without fear of persecution or legal penalties. Interestingly it was always rumoured that the Japanese aristocracy had always eaten beef in secrecy, even during the Buddhist ban.
There are were three major black strains of cattle that culminated into what is now known today as Wagyu beef:
- The Tajiri
- The Fjuiyoshi or Shimane
- The Kedaka (Tottori)
Within grades and sources of Wagyu beef, only four breeds of cattle (with closely documented lineage) may be considered to be true Wagyu. Those breeds are:
- The Japanese Black (predominantly exported to America)
- The Japanese Brown (sometimes referred to as Red Wagyu)
- Japanese Polled
- Japanese Shorthorn
The Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn breeds of Wagyu are not sold or exported as live breeding cattle outside of the country. In fact, the two breeds are known as the highest level of beef quality available in the world, and it is illegal to breed them except for a small handful of approved ranchers in Japan.
When you hear about the elite of Japanese cattle living in stress-free environments, receiving milk and special foods and even being massaged, these are the two breeds referenced, and the extreme quality control and ranching measures in place.
Now that you know a little bit about the history and strict restrictions involved with producing Wagyu beef, you can start to appreciate why people think it is ‘such a big deal’ when they see it on the menu.
Four Incredible Wagyu Beef Appetizers for Restaurant Menus
Whether you operate a five-star dining establishment, a private lounge or club with V.I.P. boxes and champagne service, Wagyu beef appetizers carry a level of prestige that accompanies any luxury meal or beverage experience.
While options like grilled Wagyu skewers with satay or tangy dipping sauce, or a table-side service grilling tender, thin portions of Wagyu custom for your diner, appetizers are by far the easiest to implement on your menu. And with controlled portion sizes, Wagyu appetizers can become a big revenue generator and profit center for your restaurant.
- Beef Tataki with Ponzu Sauce
One of the first rules that Chefs know about Wagyu, is to season it gently. That means from the cooking process, straight through to the side dish served and dipping sauce. Because of the premium quality of Wagyu beef, customers want to taste that exceptional beef flavor. Make sure not to mask any of the natural richness of the beef during preparation.
Beef Tataki is a medium rare preparation, that takes full advantage of the rich flavor of Wagyu beef. Without over cooking the portions, each tender piece can be dipped in the delicious herbaceous (but mild) Ponzu sauce, that has a little spicy kick (thanks to the fresh Chile sauce).
It’s a mouth-watering delicacy and beautiful presentation suitable for a five-star dining experience! We love this recipe from four-time James Beard Award Winning and TV Celebrity Chef Andrew Zimmern.
Source: Web 2019 andrewzimmern.com
- Wagyu Beef Crostini
Either as a tartar or a grilled appetizer portion, served with some delicious accoutrements and a mild seasoning, Wagyu can be the star of your appetizer crostini menu. Pair it with a rigid but lightly toasted crostini base, that consider the following topping suggestions:
- Mustard cress greens
- Goat cheese
- Grilled pear and brie cheese
- Fresh basil and yellow tomato (sweet and mild)
- Grilled sweet or hot pepper
- Caramelized onion
- Grilled eggplant (aubergine)
- Grilled asparagus
Check out this gallery and slideshow from Delish.com for 14 innovative flavor combinations that may inspire you to add premium Wagyu to your crostini appetizer menu.
- Wagyu Tartar with Spicy Mayo, Caviar and Garnishes
Purists who love the flavor of beef will insist on ordering Wagyu appetizers tartar. This specialty method of serving raw beef should only be done by an experienced Chef.
Quality Wagyu doesn’t get more ‘uptown’ than when it is garnished with caviar! This delicious recipe from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto expertly pairs Wagyu with a savory spicy mayo, and the ‘surf and turf’ combination that is becoming more popularized in sushi fine dining establishments.
If you would like to add premium Wagyu Beef to your five-star menu, contact our team at Miami Beef® We are a family owned business that has built a reputation as a quality meat processor and supplier for almost 100 years, and our team will help provide some inspiration and options for food service excellence.