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Do you Wagyu?

First Posted 06:24:00 05/24/2007

Filed Under: Lifestyle & Leisure, Food

MANILA, Philippines -- A lot of people do, apparently, going by the huge turnout at the recent opening of the Wagyu Food Festival at the Diamond Hotel Philippines. Ongoing until June 30 at this hotel fronting the bay on Roxas Boulevard, the beef bash puts the spotlight on what was for the longest time Japan?s exclusive domain and best kept gourmet secret.

Wagyu is a special breed of cattle first raised in Japan because its people are obsessive-compulsive about dining well yet eating lean and being healthy.

Wagyu beef is characterized by intense flavor and dense marbling, which results in a higher ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats. Now even if you don?t have the appetite for anything that is more than three syllables, try to digest this one: the multi-syllabled fats have lower cholesterol while the other kind is linked to heart disease.

Not the same

Some people use the designations ?Wagyu beef? and ?Kobe beef? interchangeably but that shouldn?t be. True, all Kobe beef comes from the Wagyu breed, but the celebrity status of Kobe beef arises from its being a product of Wagyu cattle born, bred, fed and royally treated (as in massaged) in the prefecture of Kobe, Japan. So Kobe beef should not be confused with other Wagyu beef from Wagyu cattle that have been bred in the United States, Australia and Europe. In other words, Wagyu has to do with genes and Kobe, with place.

It is important to designate where the beef comes from, since some farms outside Japan have crossbred Wagyu cattle with other breeds. It had been acceptable for the international cattle industry to refer to beef with Wagyu genetics as ?Wagyu? until last year when Japan?s Ministry of Agriculture reportedly went on the warpath against any beef labeled as ?Wagyu? that was actually from foreign-bred cattle.

Diamond Hotel?s youthful president, Cecile Ang, obviously knows her Wagyu. ?We use Japanese Wagyu at Yurakuen, US Snake River Farms Wagyu at Palm Court and both US and Japanese Wagyu at Bellevue,? she very specifically notes of their outlets? offerings. (For a time, Snake River Farms sold all the Wagyu cattle they were raising to Japan. Now, they reportedly sell half of their Wagyu beef to Americans and other consumers.)

Luxury package

?We also have the premium Wagyu? Japanese Matsusaka beef?at Bellevue,? adds Ang.

Matsusaka beef is offered as part of a luxury package for two being promoted by Diamond Hotel for P120,000, which includes a premium Wagyu dinner paired with a bottle of Chateau Margaux (or any premium wine of your choice) and an overnight stay in the Presidential Suite with breakfast in bed thrown in. Or P90,000 if minus the not-too-shabby sleeping quarters.

During the launch hosted by Carlos Celdran of the ?walking tour? fame, a progressive lunch took the guests from one restaurant to another in the hotel, with each outlet serving two to four dishes made from the prized beef.

Until the end of June, Yurakuen is offering Japanese Premium Beef Sukiyaki or Shabu-Shabu course Teppanyaki Japanese Premium Sirloin and Teppanyaki Japanese Tenderloin steak.

Palm Court?s menu, on the other hand, includes Wagyu Burger served in toasted ciabatta olive bread with a side of onion rings, tomato jam and yellow mustard; Wagyu Black Cheek Beef, which is a braised sesame beef broth served on buckwheat noodles with vegetables; and Broiled Wagyu Black Zabuton Steak that comes with corn on the cob, French fries and orange-flavored BBQ sauce.

Restaurant Le Bellevue is going for a Euro-Continental cuisine consisting of Tartare of Wagyu Beef with roasted sesame and mustard seeds set on delectable slivers of Wagyu carpaccio; Broiled Wagyu Burger Steak served with goose liver on toasted cereal bread, sautéed mushrooms, herbed BBQ sauce and spicy potato wedges; Broiled Peppered Wagyu Rib-eye topped with creamy pepper sauce, baked polenta and vegetables; Pan Fried Wagyu Black Steak with seared scallops on Shiraz reduction, stir-fried vegetable balls and rice fritters; and Charcoal Broiled Marinated Wagyu served with corn on the cob, mushroom ragout and sautéed artichokes.

If you?re unapologetically carnivorous, this rich and tender pedigreed beef will delight you. If you?re not a good cook, Wagyu beef is too expensive to try to do on your own at home, so why not allow the Diamond Hotel culinary team to enthrall you? Call 5283000 or e-mail bizcenter@diamondhotel.com. CBF

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