It's a 'meat and greet' as Kobe beef arrives in HK
One of Japan's culinary superstars, the rarely exported Kobe beef, will be available in Hong Kong supermarkets and one restaurant starting tomorrow.
The beef comes from cows raised in the hill country of Tajima, Hyogo Prefecture.
Only the best of Tajima's cows satisfy the strict standards of 'Kobe beef', and their yearly production is limited to 3,000 animals.
To increase the quality of the meat, soothing music is played to the cows to increase their appetite. They are massaged to improve the texture of their meat and all cows must be virgins before their slaughter.
The premium beef has almost always been served to local Japanese gourmets instead of going overseas.
But that rule was broken in February, when Macau became the first export destination. Now Hong Kong is following suit five months later.
Foreign demand for Kobe beef is strong, and exports will help Japan's economic recovery after its tsunami disaster, Tetsuya Ishii, deputy consul-general of Japan, said.
Seven cows will be imported to Hong Kong in the first month. Several outlets of supermarket chain Taste and Great, both under AS Watson - the mother company of ParknShop - will start selling the beef tomorrow.
Depending on the quality rating, the beef will cost between HK$180 and HK$635 per kilogram. A discount of 30 per cent will be offered during its first week on the shelves.
Kobe beef is assigned a meat quality score of four or five, with five being the best in firmness, texture, colour and quality. Other Tajima beef does not reach the fifth grade.
Nobu, at the InterContinental Hong Kong hotel, will start offering a HK$1,688 Kobe beef set tomorrow, which includes five beef dishes and a dessert. An interesting twist will be beef sushi made from sirloin.
Erik Idos, Nobu's executive chef, said: 'Kobe beef is very balanced between fat and meat ... it's not all fat, as some people think.'
For those who would like to fry a Kobe beef steak at home, he suggested adding just a little salt and pepper. Never cook it to the well-done stage, because that will ruin its tenderness and subtle flavour, he said.
Hon Jin and Gyu Jin, two sister restaurant chains, will enter the market next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hon Jin will price its cheapest beef dish at below HK$200, while Gyu Jin will offer a HK$568 hotpot buffet with an unlimited supply of the premium beef.