Treat Yourself to A5 Wagyu Without Going Broke
15 MARCH 2022
They call Wagyu beef the Ferrari of meat.
The Gucci of beef, but with beautiful marbling instead of monograms.
We know, we know, Wagyu beef is expensive. It costs more than commercial beef, no doubt about that. It costs more to raise the cows. Wagyu cows are raised in pristine conditions in Japan, without being injected with antibiotics and chemicals. They also live longer and eat special feed.
“How rich do I have to be to eat Wagyu beef?” is a good question. Do we really need a loan from the ah long to pay for quality beef?
Cheap A5 Wagyu Beef Exists?!?
Is Wagyu beef with the lowest marbling score the best deal?
Maybe you’re familiar with Wagyu beef’s superior marbling, and have figured out that a higher marbling grade goes with a higher the price tag. You may think this means choosing the pack of Wagyu beef with a low marbling score — say, an MS 4-5 rating — and picking the smallest steak and, oh, picking meat that’s expiring today so it’s 50% off now at 5pm.
That’s not what we’re recommending.
We are recommending A5 Wagyu beef, top-of-the-line Wagyu beef, that’s fresh, that's legit. Yup, you can afford Wagyu beef without breaking the bank.
Anything Wagyu is a Cut Above
Unless you insist on only eating a chateaubriand, there are Wagyu beef cuts that are priced cheaper. They're worth it if you've been wanting to experience the best beef in the world but can't make that level of financial commitment.
Just last week, we brought home a nice haul of Iga Beef for RM15 per 100g. We opted for meat from the neck. We also got them in diced cubes (1.5 inches thick). We bought the neck because we were planning to make a simple beef stew.
Below is a list of affordable Iga Beef cuts. The pricing is based on diced cubes and what’s currently available at Wmart Supermarket*:
- Shoulder Clod – Ninoude
- Shoulder Clod – Kosan Kaku
- Heel Muscle – Habaki
- Shin Shank
*We found these cuts at Wmart Supermarket on 7 March 2022. They're subject to availability and not all cuts are listed online.
All these cuts are A5 Wagyu beef, ready to part of an amazing dish. Large cubes can be used in stews, and they only need 30-40% effort for extremely tender results. The brisket, neck and gyudon cuts can be sliced thinly for dishes such as shabu-shabu and sukiyaki. For yakiniku, get the shin shank if you prefer a leaner bite, or brisket for a juicier experience.
Step-by-step Guide to buying Wagyu beef at Wmart
You don’t have to be a Wagyu wizard to score the best deals.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do when you’re at Wmart Supermarket:
- Tell our butcher or any Wmart staff what you’re planning to cook or your budget.
They will cheerfully take out some Iga Beef on display to let you examine Wagyu beef in its full glory. The price per 1kg is printed for your easy reference. If this is your first close encounter with Wagyu beef, don’t worry, you’re not expected to buy the whole chunk of meat. The four-figure price tags are there to be scrutinized by chefs and to amuse the rest of us.
- Tell us how much Wagyu beef you want.
Example: “300 grams for hot pot”, “1 kilo diced cubes”. Also, tell the butcher how thin you’d like the portions or slices to be. You can request for thin shabu-shabu slices, yakiniku, steaks or big diced cubes. You can take home the whole chunk of Wagyu beef if you prefer to chop it up yourself. There's a meat portion guide at the counter, and Wmart staff can also show you some prepacked samples. During our personal visit, we requested for 1kg of 1.5-inch-thick diced Wagyu beef cubes.
- Prepare the Wagyu beef portions.
The butcher will take the Wagyu beef to the prep area at the back to expertly slice the meat for you. You can watch him at work dabbing and stabbing meat, or feeding the cutting machine behind the glass. It’s Final Destination-esque.
- Pack the Wagyu beef.
“Vacuum plastic?” The butcher will ask you next. He can vacuum seal your Wagyu beef, or arrange them on a tray and wrap them up. Vacuum sealed Wagyu beef stays fresh for a few more days if you’re not planning to cook it right away.
- Price the Wagyu beef.
It’s time to weigh your Wagyu beef to determine how much this is going to cost you. Give or take a few grams for the weight. The butcher will show you the final price, and ask if you want an insulated aluminum bag to keep your Iga Beef chilled for your journey home.
- Pay for the Wagyu beef.
Head to the cashier, or carry on shopping in Wmart for other ingredients. Feel free to ask the staff to recommend ingredients or spices — dashi, kombu, etc. — for your hot pot broth or sauce.
Cooking Your A5 Wagyu Beef
For this supermarket run, we made a home beef stew with onions, carrots, tomatoes and Italian herbs we had lying around (such as bay leaves and sage). We browned the Iga Beef first before simmering the pieces in a pot.
We loved how Iga Beef seared quickly and took less than two hours to become tender. With commercial beef and our poor grasp of science, we were always afraid of not cooking our beef stews long enough, or transforming chuck into chalk.
If you're using these cuts for shabu-shabu and sukiyaki, it's more straightforward. All you have to do is add them to your hot pot and swirl the Wagyu beef slices around for a minute or so, and they're done.
So, do you want to elevate your favorite beef stew or just try Wagyu beef for the first time?
If you’re looking for A5 Wagyu beef on a limited budget, we hope this article has helped you identify the affordable cuts. Don’t be shy about asking any of our staff at Wmart Supermarket for assistance. They’re happy to recommend and show you a variety of cuts to suit your budget.