The Japanese are known to be polite, almost to a fault. Guests are treated like kings, and they make sure that they don't offend or cause any form of discomfort. We were reminded of this legendary politeness at the grand launch of Miyazaki Gyu, when they served these beautiful slivers of wagyu...well done.
The last thing we expected at their grand launch was overcooked beef, but there it was: probably the most beautiful meat known to man, sitting like a lifeless grey tongue over sushi rice. As a testament to the meat’s superior marbling, the aburi sushi still delivered clean, rich flavors.
Our puzzlement, however, continued when we saw cubes of steak cooked medium-well, which to our steak-loving eyes, looked two shades over the desired doneness. Still, it was palatable and nobody at our table was about to turn away plates of what is known to be the best wagyu in Japan. But we were all wondering why chef and business partner Kensuke Sakai kept sending out overcooked beef.
“Filipinos don’t like raw,” he said. This kind man, God bless him, is so afraid to offend the local’s sensibilities that he gritted his teeth and torched lovely, marbled, and very expensive beef until it was almost unrecognizable. However, all he really needed was reassurance that the top-grade beef he was serving will not go to waste. When a guest boldly asked if he was going to serve wagyu sashimi, Sakai’s sad eyes (his wife of fourteen years recently passed away) lit up and the Iron Chef Japan challenger quickly retreated to the kitchen to prepare Miyazaki beef as he normally would.
When served fresh from the chiller as sashimi, the sliced rib cap is almost white from the marbling of fat which is like intricate lace against the pale pink meat. The texture is as delicate as marshmallow, but it has the subtle flavor of beef and the richness of fine jamon. The meat is allowed to thaw out and then wrapped around sushi rice, laid over a bit of ponzu sauce to balance out of the inherent fattiness of the meat.
Slightly seared and then thinly sliced, the sirloin is served cold with a salad tossed in a tangy sesame dressing. The aburi sushi reappeared, and this time it looked like it was barely kissed by the flame, on the brink of the desired Maillard reaction. It didn’t need the ginger and wasabi it came with, just a brush of soy sauce to complement its lushness.
The Filipino’s aversion to uncooked meats is not unfounded, as mishandling of the stuff in our humid, unpredictable weather can easily turn produce rancid and inedible. Cooking beef through is expected to kill whatever undesirables there are hiding in the carcass.
However, moneyed pinoys can rest assured that there are no horrible things lurking in this luxurious beef. A quick lesson on Miyazaki Gyu explains that only grade A4 and higher Miyazaki wagyu can be found Miyazaki Gyu, making it arguably the best beef in the world. This beef is imported from Japan only by authorized dealers, with the meat accompanied by certificates of authenticity and cattle ID number.
The prized beef is flown into our shores and expertly handled with supervision by Miyazaki Gyu BGC co-owner Santi Araneta. Araneta is coincidentally also the big boss of logistics giant LBC, and he makes sure that the painstaking care put into raising the expensive cattle is not all for naught. On top of the cold display in the dining room, a photo of the cow and the farmer which raised it is proudly displayed. This is to say, we assume, that you know exactly what you are paying for and putting in your mouth.
While the raw preparations of Miyazaki Gyu clearly illustrate the meat’s superior quality, most will come for the steak. Sakai admits that this is still his favorite way to enjoy this fine beef. His expert advise: order the rump steak. He brings some out for us to try, grilled a perfect medium rare. We notice the deep pink flesh which you rarely see in Wagyu steaks because of the intense marbling. The rump, which is a hardworking part of the animal, is normally not as tender and fatty as, say, ribeye. But, this being Miyazaki Gyu, the rump is melt-in-your-mouth tender but still with a meaty mouthfeel one longs for in a good steak.
So, lastly, while we want to threaten you with the thought that a puppy dies every time somebody orders Miyazaki Gyu steak well-done, but we are all adults here. So instead we leave you with this gentle reminder: Please do not spend your hard earned money on the best beef in the world and eat it grey. Treat it with the respect and love it deserves. We promise it will be one of the best experiences of your life.
Miyazaki Gyu is at G/F One McKinley Place, 4th Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.