Officially, Wagyu beef is any beef that comes from Japanese beef cows.
Historically, the farmers selected cows with more physical endurance in agriculture. Their decisions eventually led to the four modern varieties with additional fat cells that create Wagyu’s iconic marbling.
Today, Japan’s Wagyu cattle follow a highly-regulated testing and breeding process that helps maintain the cattle’s exceptionally high quality. As a result, the meat is so good that the government defines it as a living national treasure, with much of the beef remaining in Japan for domestic consumption.
Some strains outside of Japan call themselves Wagyu, but this isn’t strictly accurate to the original term. Rather, some lower-quality products try to imitate the flavor of genuine Wagyu beef and may price their cuts higher or lower when trying to fool customers.
How Much Is A Wagyu Steak?
The price of a Wagyu steak depends on several factors, including current market conditions and where you’re buying the steak.
A local pseudo-Wagyu strain (often marketed as such) can run between $10 and $15 per pound in America. For context, this is about twice as much as a typical beef roast. However, this is usually the cost to the manufacturer. So it can be several times more by the time it gets to the consumer.
Genuine Wagyu is significantly more expensive, with some locations charging up to $200 per pound for meat. However, if you add in the specialty preparation at a high-quality restaurant, the price of a single cut can be $300 or more.
As with all steaks, size has a significant impact on the final price of Wagyu. An 8-ounce steak will cost less than a 16-ounce one, and a sampler platter is even less.
Prices have been going down lately as farmers have tried to breed similar cows, but the highest-quality Japanese beef always commands a premium price.
Grading Wagyu Beef
Genuine Wagyu beef follows a grading scale involving a letter followed by a number. The letters are A to C, with A being the best, while the numbers are 1-5 and 5 is the best. The best cuts we consider genuine Wagyu are A3 to A5, with A5 being the best of all measured options.
You may see an additional grade of 1-12 for quality, where higher is better. In this context, the average is 3-4, while the highest rating of excellent is 8-12.
Many locations price their steaks by these grading scales, which is why you can find some near-Wagyu beef that costs significantly less than a top-of-the-line steak.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much is a wagyu steak, and what else should you know? Here are some common questions people have.
How much is an 8 oz Wagyu steak?
An eight-ounce steak is usually about $60 for high-quality American-style Wagyu beef. A Japanese steak will usually be closer to $150 or $200 by the time it gets to a consumer.
How much is a 16 oz Wagyu steak?
A sixteen-ounce Wagyu steak can cost $200 or more for American-style beef, or above $400 for a genuine Japanese steak if you get it from the right location. Stores pay significantly less, but thanks to high demand, they’re able to sell the steaks for a much higher price.
How much is a 1 lb Wagyu steak?
A one-pound Wagyu steak is the same thing as a sixteen-ounce steak and therefore has the same price. Some places define their sales by the pound, others by the ounce.
What is Kobe beef?
Kobe beef is a specific strain of Wagyu that many people consider the best of the style. However, it’s quite expensive, with one traveler from a US University citing a price of about $100 for a five-ounce serving (a little more than a quarter of a pound). Extrapolating up, that’s close to $400 per pound, though it did include cooking and the meal.
Is Wagyu beef worth it?
Whether Wagyu beef is worth the price is primarily subjective. However, almost everyone who tries it agrees that it’s among the best beef they’ve ever eaten, and even American-style Wagyu is better than most other cuts.
If you have the opportunity, Wagyu is worth trying at least once for the experience. However, note that portions tend to be small for Americans, so you may need to order several servings or get some other food to have an entire meal out of it. Japanese restaurants tend to offer small servings.