Wagyu Grades Explained

May 10, 2022

Zen-noh Japanese wagyu has arrived at Sushisushi! We now have A5 wagyu in stock! A5 wagyu is the highest Japanese grade there is. But how is wagyu judged? In today's blog we will explore this strict grading system.

The grade of wagyu is dictated by a letter and a number. The letter can be from A to C (A being the best), and the number from 1 to 5 (5 being the best).

The A to C scale represents the amount of wagyu that can be harvested from the cattle. Before slaughter, a calculation is used to work out the percentage of meat, fat and bone that the cattle is comprised of. The more meat, the better the ranking. It is usually the case that larger cattle have better quality meat.

B is treated as the standard, so A is better than standard, C is less than standard.

So before the slaughter, only the letter is designated to the cattle. At this stage, the farmers are still unsure of the quality of the beef.

Now, let's have a look at how the number section of the grade is judged:

1. Ratio of Fat to Lean Meat

The first criteria that is judged is probably the most obvious, as it is why wagyu is special - the marbling. The beef is judge by the ratio of fat to lean meat. The more fat, the better.

In this picture, No.8 to No.12 is rated 5 ★★★★★ (A5 quality)

2. Colour of the meat

Up next is the colour of the lean meat. This is judged by how dark or light it is. Mid-tones are graded as better quality with lighter and darker meats are given lower grades.

In this picture, colour no.3 to 5 are rated as 5 ★★★★★

3. Colour and glossiness of the fat

The colour of the fat is also an important factor when deciding the grade. The glossiness of the fat also plays a part as this hints towards the quality of the fat and how tender it will be. The fat in higher quality wagyu has to melt-in-the-mouth.

In this case, the lighter and shinier the fat, the better.

In this picture, No.1 would be the better quality & No.7 being the worst.

4. Firmness of the meat

Finally, the beef is judged by it's firmness. This one is more open into interpretation as it is difficult to give a visual representation.

The beef should be firm but tender. This is so it does not fall apart while cooking but at the same time, is not too chewy.

The grades are strictly organised. As you can see, the interesting thing about this grade is not about the taste. As all of us have flavour preferences and it can't be judged, so these grades are all about the quality of the meat.

A5 Japanese wagyu is now available in our store. 

Try our A5 wagyu today!

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