Even as the pandemic has eased and restaurant crowds are back, the high-quality Japanese meat and fish from Wagyuman have kept me cooking at home.

June 08, 2021
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Wagyuman
Credit: Courtesy of Wagyuman

I wanted to get my dad a really special gift this year to mark his 70th birthday, his 45th Father's Day, and his awesome job as a babysitting grandfather, but it was challenging to find the perfect thing. I didn't want to fall back on a Ferragamo tie or even a new set of golf clubs. He had asked for steaks for dinner, and in the past, I might've taken him to the fanciest steakhouse in town. This year, I brought the steakhouse home with premium A5 Japanese Wagyu ribeye steaks from a new-ish company called Wagyuman.

Here's how it went down: My dad woke up to a knock on his door. On his doorstep he found a large box. Opening the package and unwrapping the paper, he discovered perfectly-marbled Japanese Wagyu A5 ribeye steaks and a complete sushi kit buffered from the SoCal heat by plentiful ice packs. Though he'd asked for steaks, he said the sight of these went beyond his expectations. Delivered to his doorstep, our small pod of extended family's plan was to grill them up the next day and celebrate in the backyard. 

I love that Wagyuman delivers premium A5 Wagyu steaks to your doorstep because I have an almost two-year-old who doesn't have a vaccine yet, and I still don't feel entirely safe dining indoors. Sadly, most of my favorite Japanese restaurants don't have outdoor dining, and many don't have Wagyu or provide conducive environments to kids. At $139 each, these one-pound steaks were the perfect party splurge to fete our vaccines and mark LA County's entrance into the least-restrictive yellow tier. They're also a beacon of what dining at home in the future will look like for families like mine.

"Over the past year, we've all been influenced by a new lifestyle, and we've started spending more time with our families and pods, but it's been hard to make restaurant-quality food like the great steakhouses at home," Dai Moriya, the CEO of Wagyuman and Kyoto native, says. "We're trying to offer a variety of food that you'll never be able to find anywhere else, and rarely at home, including shaved meat for hot pot or sukiyaki family dinners, sushi kits, and of course, Japanese Wagyu."

Wagyuman
Credit: Courtesy of Wagyuman

Moriya started the company shortly before the pandemic in November 2019, with the goal of working with and supporting Japanese Wagyu farmers in Kyushu, many of whom are elderly, to provide America with top quality Japanese beef. 

"When I was traveling around Japan, I visited some Wagyu farms in the Kyushu area where I saw elderly adults working so hard from early morning to night taking very good care of the cattle as a small family business," Moriya says. "The appreciation that I had when I visited those farms is still in my heart."

Moriya says that American Wagyu does not offer the same experience as this imported Japanese Wagyu. "The breed in America is not 100 percent Wagyu cattle, and American Wagyu are fed more grass and grains, whereas in Japan they receive a special blend from each farmer," he says. "The highest grade for American Wagyu is no more than A4, and A5 is only for Japanese Wagyu. You can taste the difference, because American Wagyu have more muscle and less fat."

In each shipment, Moriya includes an official certificate of the individual livestock that each steak came from, including the meat grade and the farm source, in order to honor the farmers' hard work and personal attention. Wagyuman offers not only Japanese Wagyu ribeye, striploin, filet mignon and other cuts, but also DIY Sushi Kits with options for fresh seafood like uni, ikura, otoro, salmon and hamachi, working with a wide network of fisheries in Japan.

"We want kids and adults to be able to have a cultural experience with these DIY Sushi Kits," Moriya says. "It takes a long time to become a great sushi chef and to make the rice right, with that shape and taste and vinegar content, so our team spent a long time working with sushi experts in the industry to create something that would make it possible for kids and home cooks to assemble perfect, authentic-tasting sushi that connects them to the great network that is the tuna industry of Japan."

Moriya believes that eating luxuriously at home is the new norm, and has seen steady orders even as vaccines become widespread and the pandemic comes to an end in most parts of the U.S.. "Things aren't going to go back 100 percent to the original pre-COVID lifestyle," he says. "COVID-19 changed so many things in our lives, but one positive aspect that I see is this has become a bonding time with loved ones like your family, partner and friends. You spend so much time at home, sometimes 24 hours, that you need to eat better at home, cooking quality products."

For parents like me, there's a practical element to ordering and sourcing super high-quality ingredients: going out to the restaurant requires a $100-plus payment to a babysitter. I'd rather spend that on a $139 Wagyu steak. 

Since this wasn't just any steak, I instructed my dad to cook the steaks very gently. He got to experience the buttery softness that melts in your mouth when you eat a Japanese Wagyu steak. There's a sweetness and umami to these steaks that just feels rewarding at the end of the day. I don't think I've ever been prouder of a gift I've gotten him-even that time I ordered a golf practice green that he spent all week putting on.