RPM Steak already boasts some seriously impressive cuts of beef, making the restaurant one of the nation’s top steakhouse contenders. Take for example, the signature 36-oz. 90-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye (part of the RPM Private Reserve) coming from Chicago’s Allen Brothers, or the 42-oz. Mishima Tomahawk from Washington state. There are even entire sections on the menu dedicated to filet mignon as well as bison and grass-fed steaks. As impressive (and delicious!) as these all are, RPM Steak takes its beef game to a whole new level with the rare and exclusive Wagyu & Kobe Beef selection.
To learn more, we sat down with chef/partner Doug Psaltis to get a firsthand look at the Japanese beef, why it’s so exceptional and how RPM Steak is serving it up.
What exactly is wagyu and Kobe beef?
In the most basic sense of the word, wagyu literally means “Japanese cow”. This beef is celebrated for its heavy marbling and melt-in-your-mouth texture and is the most expensive beef in the world. Wagyu is graded by both yield and quality, with “A” denoting the highest yield grade and “5” denoting the highest quality grade based on marbling, color, texture and quality of fat. At RPM Steak, only wagyu that is certified A5 is offered, meaning it’s the best of the best.
Kobe is also wagyu but is more specific in terms of place of origin, much like Champagne can only be called as such if it comes from the actual region. In this case, Kobe must come from the Tajima breed of cattle and be born, raised and slaughtered in the Hyogo prefecture (of which Kobe is the capital). This beef also goes through a similar grading as the aforementioned wagyu.
What types of Japanese beef does RPM Steak serve?
Chef Doug has been working one-on-one with Japan’s top butchers and purveyors to bring the world’s most prized selections of Japanese beef to Chicago. Currently, RPM Steak brings in both strip and ribeye cuts of wagyu, which he feels are the best representations of the beef. Rather than focusing on off-cuts, he chooses to present 4 or 5 of the best farms from the different prefectures in Japan.
Hokkaido Snow Beef – Private Reserve from Chateau Uenae Lake Farm, which is the rarest and most highly-coveted beef of them all. RPM Steak is only 1 of 5 restaurants in the world certified to sell it. The cattle, which are raised by a specialist named Fujio Terauchi, live their days in freezing temperatures which is said to give the meat a lower (fat) melting point that yields an intensely sweet flavor and snowflake-like delicateness. No more than 2 cattle are harvested each month, ensuring only the highest quality of beef is available on the market.
Kobe is 100% Tajima beef from Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture. RPM Steak is only 1 of 8 restaurants in the country certified to sell this most famous brand of beef coming out of Japan. Approximately 3 cattle are imported each month to RPM Steak.
Mr. Ideue Beef – From Kagoshima, Japan, this beef is privately raised by Mr. Ideue himself, who is known as “a fattening specialist”. His unique cattle feed and stress-free environment are said to ensure the most optimal marbling and A5 grading.
Miyazaki wagyu is known as the “Champion of Beef” hailing from southern Japan. Every five years, the country holds a “beef Olympics”, and Miyazaki has won the past two competitions.
Ohmi Wagyu – Once reserved for the emperor of Japan, this is the oldest brand of wagyu dating as far back as as the late 15th century. The beef is imported from the Shiga Prefecture just once per month in extremely limited quantities. RPM Steak is very fortunate to even offer this beef, albeit on “special” only — once it’s out, that’s it!
How is the Japanese beef prepared and served at RPM Steak?
Less is definitely more with beef this rich, this tender, this exquisite. Chef Doug simply seasons the wagyu with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then gives it a quick kiss of fire on the grill over white oak. The beef is thinly sliced and served rare (the only way to serve it!) with black garlic shoyu and fresh wasabi from California’s Half Moon Bay.
Japanese beef is rare. It’s expensive. But it’s also definitely worth every penny for that unparalleled, melt-in-your mouth, buttery beef flavor. Nowhere in Chicago – let alone many places in the world – are diners able to get such exceptional meat that RPM Steak offers. But don’t just take our word for it. Try it out for yourself.