Food & Drink

Kobe vs. Wagyu: Are They the Same?

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 | 0 Comments
Kobe vs. wagyu
Our editorial team recommends the best products through independent research, selection and careful review. If you make a purchase through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a commission. Prices are subject to change.

Knowing the difference between Kobe vs. wagyu beef can seem like a complex question, but we’re here to break down the distinctions between these two high-dollar types of beef. Chances are, you’ve heard of both Kobe beef and wagyu beef and know that they have some kind of connection, but you might not have learned what makes these brands of beef different from each other.

If you’re a home chef looking to expand your repertoire, knowing the differences between these exclusive types of meat will help you feel more confident in the kitchen and more prepared if you venture out to take a cooking class. There are cooking classes in NYC all the way to cooking classes in New Orleans, so there are sure to be cooking classes near you or even online cooking classes that can teach you the best methods to prepare Kobe vs. wagyu beef. But first you need to know the differences between them! 

The most common expression you’ll hear in regards to these two types of beef is that “All Kobe beef is wagyu beef, but not all wagyu beef is Kobe.” In this guide, we’ll dive into why that is true and explain the differences in marbling, flavor and even the price of Kobe beef vs. wagyu.


 Jump to Section

Book a Gourmet Cooking Class Now
Kick-start your culinary confidence with help from a world-class chef. See what's cooking in your city today.
Book Now

What Is Wagyu Beef?

Wagyu beef can be thought of as an overarching category for all Japanese beef. The word wagyu literally means “Japanese cow” and refers to four specific breeds of cattle: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn and Japanese Polled. All wagyu beef comes from one of these species or a cross-breeding of two of them.

You will also see quality distinctions with wagyu beef, like Japanese A5 wagyu. A5 refers to the highest quality level that Wagyu beef can attain. This means that when questioning A5 wagyu vs. Kobe, you’ll still be getting an incredibly high quality cut of steak, no matter which you choose. 

Be aware that because wagyu is only determined by the type of cattle, it can be produced in Japan and elsewhere. This has brought an increase in American wagyu or domestic wagyu — Japanese cattle raised here in the United States. Australian wagyu is also a popular brand of wagyu bred and sold outside Japan.

a wagyu cow
via Canva

What Is Kobe Beef?

Though sometimes used interchangeably with wagyu beef, Kobe beef is actually a much more specific type of wagyu beef that has stricter quality regulations and a geographic distinction from the broader wagyu. Kobe branded beef must come from a Japanese Black cow that was raised and processed in the Hyogo district of Japan. Kobe beef vs. wagyu must also meet very strict quality and marbling requirements, and each cut is carefully tracked. 

It is rare to find true Kobe beef in the United States because of these important geographic, quality and tracking requirements. These stringent requirements also lead to a difference in price between Kobe vs. wagyu beef. 

Kobe vs. wagyu beef
via Canva

Kobe vs. Wagyu: Key Differences

Where the Cows Are Born and Raised

The main difference between Kobe vs. wagyu is the geographic distinction that sets Kobe beef apart. Unless the cattle is born, raised and processed in the Hyogo district of Japan, it does not qualify as Kobe beef. This means that while there can be Kobe-style beef found in many places, the specific brand requires it to originate in Japan. 


There isn’t much difference in the diet between Kobe beef vs. wagyu; both types are typically fed a diet that is high in calories. Both the more general wagyu and the specific Kobe breeds of cattle are raised in such a way as to minimize stress, which leads to more tender muscles full of that signature fat marbling.  

Book an Online Cooking Class Today
Five-star chefs. Step-by-step coaching. Flexible menus. Come see what's cooking in a live online cooking class.
Book Now

Cattle Breeds 

As mentioned previously, wagyu beef comes from four specific breeds of cows which may be interbred to create high-quality meat. Kobe beef, on the other hand, comes only from the Japanese Black breed of cow. 


While all wagyu beef is known for its beautiful marbling, Kobe beef is truly the top of the line when it comes to fat marbling in a steak. In terms of Kobe vs. wagyu, Kobe beef will contain slightly more marbling throughout the beef that results in an overall richer flavor. 

Kobe beef marbling
via Canva


Speaking of the flavor of Kobe vs. wagyu beef, neither will be a disappointment, but it is true that Kobe beef, with its even higher level of standards for production, has a creamier flavor that truly melts in your mouth. Because Kobe beef must meet such strict quality requirements, you can be sure that it really is the best of the best. 


The price of Kobe beef vs. wagyu is another key factor to note when you’re trying to decide which one is best for you. Be aware that both of these exclusive cuts of meat might leave your wallet considerably lighter! There are a number of reasons why wagyu beef is so expensive, and Kobe, with its extra stringent rules for qualification, is even more so. A5 Japanese wagyu typically sells for around $200 per pound, while often in the U.S. you’ll find the more exclusive Kobe beef starting at around $50 per ounce. 

Availability Outside Japan

Knowing where to find Kobe beef vs. wagyu can make or break your next dinner party. While wagyu beef, and especially American wagyu, is more plentiful here, don’t expect to find plentiful cuts of Kobe beef at your neighborhood butcher’s shop. Both of these types of beef can be found on the menu at upscale restaurants or ordered with trusted online retailers like Holy Grail Steaks, where you'll find an excellent selection of premiere beef including Japanese A5 Kobe and other brands of wagyu. 

Kobe vs. wagyu
via Canva

We hope this guide helps enumerate the differences between Kobe vs. wagyu beef. Though they are high-dollar cuts of meat, the quality and delicious marbling really brooks no comparison. 

For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.