Wagyu? Please do

'Given the opportunity to try an $89 steak, I am going to try it, and the cost be damned'


It was our anniversary, and the choices were wide open for where to have a celebratory dinner. We could go to a couple of restaurants we have wanted to try in Detroit, we could stop in at Evans Street Station in Tecumseh, which I still haven’t been to, we could experience gastronomic nirvana at Element 112, or we could hit any of our many other favorites in town.

But for me there was no question. I wanted to try the $89 wagyu steak at the Final Cut steakhouse at the Hollywood Casino. I don’t have a bucket list, per se, but if I did, that would be on it.

I am not independently wealthy, and the newspaper industry does not hand its employees buckets of hundred-dollar bills. But given the opportunity to try an $89 wagyu steak, I am going to try it, and the cost be damned.

Before the movie Titanic came out, it drew considerable backlash because it was, at the time, the most expensive movie ever made. People said they did not want to watch something that cost that much money, but director Jim Cameron turned that logic on its head by asking: Who wouldn’t want to see the most expensive movie ever made?

He had a point, as the box office receipts quickly showed. And by the same reasoning, who wouldn’t want to try the most expensive — and presumably the highest quality — food that you can buy? At least once?

The Roman poet Horace exhorted us to seize the day, to carpe the diem, but I have never been entirely enamored of this philosophy. I have always been the sort to seize a little bit of the day, but also to give considerable thought to the future. It just seems prudent. Still, whenever I am given the chance to try some new food, I jump on it like a frenzied gang of Roman poets.

Some people, I know, look at food only as fuel. It’s what they need to consume to get themselves through the day and to give them the energy to pursue the activities that are closer to their heart. But the people who are like that do not travel in my circles; I’m all about the food and the horizon of new culinary experiences.

“I would never pay $89 for a steak,” many of you are saying. “My entire family can eat for a week for $89.”

And that is all very true. But many of you same people are also saying, “I wonder what it tasted like.”

It’s human nature. We want to know what the most expensive clothes look like, what the most expensive house looks like, and what the most expensive steak in town tastes like.

As it happens, it tastes pretty darned good. Excellent, in fact. Superlative.

It was like butter — as soft as butter and as rich as it, too. The sear on the outside was perfection; brittle, like the top of a creme brulée. The interior was a uniform deep red, the juiciest meat I have ever seen, with twice the beefy flavor of an ordinary steak.

Was it worth $89? I don’t know. The meat itself was steak on a completely new level, but even so it was just one night’s dinner — and it didn’t even include a vegetable. Still, the experience of eating it was worth every penny.

And that’s my point: Try new foods. Experience the world of food to the utmost. And if a wagyu steak crosses your path, eat it.

Wagyu is an American version of Kobe beef from Japan, which is reputed to be even better. American farmers use the same specialized breeds of cattle, but the land, grass, and climate around the city of Kobe are more conducive to producing exceptional beef. The Japanese cattle are sometimes fed beer, and some are reportedly massaged once a day for extra tenderness. As a result, Kobe beef sells at wholesale for at least $100 per pound.

I wouldn’t pay that. That’s just ridiculous. Some diems don’t need to be carpe-ed.

Contact Daniel Neman at 
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