Kobe steak has long been at the top of the pyramid when it comes to exceptional beef. This Japanese produce is undeniably spectacular, but in recent years, Hida steak has become increasingly popular and has started to challenge Kobe steak’s top position.
In many ways, these two steaks are quite similar. They are both brands of Wagyu and both from Japan, where raising premium steak has practically become a national sport. Both Kobe and Hida can now be found in top steak restaurants around the world, including on our a la carte menu here at 6HEAD.
Yet there are differences between the two steaks as well. Let’s take a closer look at the history of each steak brand, and how their differences emerge at ‘crunch time’ on the plate.
A short history of Wagyu beef
Both Kobe and Hida are brands of Wagyu beef, which means they share the same ancient history.
For more than 2,000 years, cattle in Japan were bred and used as draught animals. As Japan is an island nation, there was little cross-breeding throughout this time.
As a result, Wagyu (which literally means ‘Japanese cow’) became a unique beef unlike anything else in the world.
It wasn’t until the late 1800s and the Meiji Restoration that beef became a mere option for food consumption. Yet it would take a lot longer for beef to become truly popular in Japan.
Eventually, foreign cattle breeds were introduced to Japan to cross-breed with the local stock. Over time, four breeds became predominant. One of those breeds, Kuroge (black), quickly became the most common, and is the source of the vast majority of Japanese Wagyu today.
What is Kobe steak?
Kobe steak is a brand of beef that comes from Kuroge cattle. There are three major black (Kuroge) cattle strains; Tajima, Fujiyoshi, and Kedaka. Kobe steak specifically comes from the Tajima strain.
However in order for beef to be considered as true Japan Kobe steak, it also must meet several stringent criteria.
The first is that Kobe beef only comes from the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan. Kobe is actually the seventh largest city in Japan, and the capital of the Hyogo Prefecture, which is why it lends its name to the resulting world-famous steak.
Kobe beef must also have a yield score of A or B. The yield score refers to how much lean red meat is available in the beef as a percentage of the overall bodyweight.
The Japanese Meat Grading Association must also give the beef a score of 4 or 5. These scores are given based on a range of factors including fat colour, meat colour, and marbling. In this scale, 1 is low quality and 5 is the best, so a score of 4 or 5 only allows for the most premium cuts of beef.
Finally, Kobe beef steak must also have a marbling score of a grade 6 or higher. Marbling scores range from 3 to 12, and are based on the rib-eye muscle of the cattle.
What is Hida steak?
Much like Kobe beef, Hida steak also comes from Tajima black Japanese cattle. However in this case, Hida beef must come from Hida, which is part of the Gifu prefecture in Japan.
Interestingly, the history of Hida beef is quite recent. It all began in 1981 with a single bull that was bred to offer the perfect genetic make-up for exceptional Wagyu steak. It is said that this single bull produced almost 40,000 calves in his lifetime, which created the Hida brand that is now world-renowned.
As well as the perquisite that it must come from the Gifu prefecture, Hida steak must also be certified as grade A or B by the Hida Beef Brand Promotion Conference. It must also have a firmness and texture grade of 3, 4, or 5 by the Japan Meat Grading Association.
Hida steak is a stand-out in the dining scene thanks to its exceptionally high marbling. Its marbling is so ubiquitous that it even appears across the flank, shoulder, and round of the beef, making for a phenomenally tender, flavourful dish.
What is the difference between Kobe steak and Hida steak as a diner?
Both Kobe and Hida steak share similar origins. They are both famed Japanese Wagyu steaks with extremely exacting standards, and they both offer unparalleled beef dishes however they are prepared and presented.
Yet for the discerning steak lover, there are small but noticeable difference when it comes to the dining experience.
Kobe beef typically offers a more balanced dish that equally fuses the flavours and textures of premium red, lean meat with the tenderness of marbling. Hida beef, on the other hand, leans into marbling more heavily, creating a juicier, more tender dish that truly melts in your mouth with every bite.
It can be a subtle difference, but one that can provide steak connoisseurs with the option to enjoy something unique and utterly world-class.
6HEAD is one of Australia’s leading steakhouses. We are proud to offer diners a sensational Hida Wagyu beef skewer, making us one of just three Hida-certified restaurants in Australia.
Our culinary team holds the appropriate reverence for every Hida dish we serve, ensuring it is prepared and cooked to perfection to truly highlight the sensational tenderness and flavour in this world-class beef.
Of course, you’ll enjoy this unique dining experience in our stunning waterfront location in Sydney Harbour, with a variety of premium wines to perfectly complement your meal.
Treat yourself to an unforgettable meal at 6HEAD and taste Hida steak for yourself by making a reservation today.