The major difference between Kobe and Wagyu beef is the same as the difference between steaks and rib eye. Each piece of rib eye is a steak but all steaks are not rib eyes. The same goes for Kobe and Wagyu beef as well. Every piece of Kobe beef is Wagyu but all Wagyu beef is not Kobe. This is the basic difference between the two.
Kobe beef is thus a variety of Wagyu beef. Wagyu can be translated as ‘Japanese cattle’ and refers to any variety of cattle which is bred in Japan. The main aspects which make Kobe different from Wagyu and other kinds of meat that it commands higher per pound prices in the market are many. These aspects are selection, feeding, care, and most importantly the efforts of Wagyu breeders. The cow breed from which Kobe beef is derived is the Tajima-Gyu breed of cow, found especially in Japan.
During the year 1880, many European cattle breeds were crossbred with Japanese breeds. The four strains of cattle which were the consequence of this crossbred have dominated the Japanese market till date. These four varieties are the true strains of the Wagyu cattle. These are Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn, and Japanese Polled.
Though many restaurant menus portray ‘Kobe burgers’, ‘Kobe steaks’, or ‘Kobe beef’, but it is fact that authentic Kobe beef can be rarely found in international market. The reason is that only a considerable amount of Kobe beef is sent out by Japan in the beef market. Thus, any international restaurant selling the Kobe steak is actually a rare occurrence.
This is why Kobe beef is sold at a whooping high price in the international market. Legitimate Kobe beef can be bought at $200 per portion per portion and $50 needs to be shelved for a Kobe burger. Thus, if you find something being referred to as Kobe beef in a restaurant menu, but priced at less than this abovementioned amount, then beware. It is most likely to be domestic or imported Wagyu beef.
Moreover, Kobe beef is considered the most marbled Wagyu beef worldwide, providing creamiest, decadent, flavorful streaks. Thus, it is also the best Wagyu beef available in Japan. It is like Wagyu beef is a category and Kobe beef is the top most type of Wagyu beef. It is often given the number 1 ranking by meat lovers in all parts of the world.