Dining & Wine

WAGYU beef from Japan is available for the first time in years. It's the kind of beef often called Kobe.

BEEF TENDER ENOUGH TO BE SUSHI Butter-soft Wagyu beef at Megu Midtown. Readers' Opinions

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It costs $70 to $80 a pound wholesale, but a single thin slice, lightly seared and draped over sushi rice, is $9 at Megu Midtown. This buttery mouthful is enough to show what all the fuss is about.
Bigger spenders can try it raw, as sashimi ($40 for two people to share). A more substantial option is five ounces of the strip loin ($100), in precise medium-rare slices, as delectably, meltingly tender and rich as
it can get, in a serving that amounts to about the most that one person can consume, in my opinion.
But the Old Homestead Steak House serves a 10-ounce strip steak for
$195 and plates are coming back clean. The imported beef is also being served in Manhattan at Morimoto and Nobu.

The Agriculture Department began allowing beef from Japan into the country   last December, but very little of it has arrived until now. Imports were banned in 2000 amid reports of hoof- and-mouth disease in Japan. Japan, for its part, banned imports of American beef because of concerns about mad cow disease.
Three Japanese producers received permits from the Agriculture Department. They are in Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Gunma, not in Kobe, so the beef should not be called Kobe.
The Japanese beef was more buttery and sweet than a Wagyu-style strip loin from Oregon, which was very tender, halfway between American prime beef and the Japanese melt-in-the-mouth Wagyu.

John Lei for The New York Times

Wednesday, August 9, 2006
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