In part 2 of Kimio’s trip to Japan, he takes you inside the famed Iwakuni farm, home to Japan’s rarest wagyu beef.
Visit one of Tokyo’s top restaurants and you’ll probably eat Takamori wagyu.
Why? Takamori isn’t just one of Japan’s rarest wagyu brands. It also has a delicately sweet, nutty flavour, which is unique. Discerning customers can tell the difference; the exclusive restaurants know this too.
I travel to the Yamaguchi prefecture, where all Takamori cattle are fed and grown, and head to the Iwakuni area.
This city is best known for the wooden Kintai Bridge for visitors, but for wagyu enthusiasts, they have a long-established history for 150 years as one of the most popular beef production areas.
Takamori beef to the world
On Iwakuni farm, where 200 Takamori cattle are produced, they take great lengths to keep their wagyu genetic lines a closely guarded secret.
This increases their cattle’s exclusivity – also a bonus for the most exclusive restaurants around the world.
The farmer is humble and takes great care for his cattle. I get the feeling the cattle is more like a pet, rather than his business.
This is where we meet Mr Mumamoto, who is considered Japan’s ‘meat master’.
He spends his time heavily promoting all Japanese wagyu beef for the overseas market. But before he achieved such great heights, he was born and raised here, where he worked closely with the Takamori brand for many years.
As time went on, there was a growing demand for healthy eating – and consumers expected to eat better quality beef too.
Mumamoto decided to partner with Asahi Shuzo – you may know of their famous ‘Dassai’ sake’ – to promote local businesses and continue his mission to promote wagyu worldwide.
His idea? Feed Takamori cattle the sake by-product: sake lees and rice flour!
Mumamoto believes this gives the beef a more outstanding flavour.
Takamori beef has, on average, higher unsaturated fatty acid compared with typical A5 Japanese wagyu beef.
This fatty acid gives a better sweet aroma flavour that comes from the high marbling. I believe the balance of red meat and marbling for rump cuts has much better-eating quality.
Mr Mumamo decided to export only three head per month for the overseas market.
He is committed fully to all domestic restaurants but also thinks it is important to keep the overseas market growing. He exports only two heads of cattle for the US each year and one for the Australian market.
Is Takamori beef worth a try? I believe so. The farmer showed me all the prices for the best fat quality, giving it a better nutty and sweet flavour.