You may have already seen this, but, if not, check out this summary on Japanese Beef Grading
. It's interesting to compare the image of BMS #5 (the equivalent of USDA Prime, which we pay a fortune for at the best steak houses in America) with those of the higher "beef marbling standard" grades. For an impressive photo, scroll down in this Urasawa review
on the ChuckEats blog to see what BMS #10 looks like in real life.
If BLT Steak is using Grade 5 beef, that means it has to have a BMS # between 8 and 12. For $26 an ounce ($260 for a modest-sized steak), I'd probably ask to see the beef before ordering, just to make sure it has the kind of marbling it ought to.
The first link couldn't load. I will try again later to access it.
I enjoyed reading that second link. Thanks! The shimofuri (marbling pattern) is just beautiful to me.
Ever since my first taste of Kobe beef, just a few slices, in Japan, a few years ago, I'd eagerly waited for its import restrictions to be lifted. Finally, I got my hands on some grade 10 or 11 (according to my estimation and that of one of the very top chefs in Dallas) marble beef shortly before Thanksgiving and made a gift of part of my stash (donnaaries saw the 10-oz. ribeye just before I presented the gift) to the mentioned chef, then prepared the remainder for my family's Thanksgiving dinner. I prepared the steaks very simply: seasoned with kosher salt and quickly seared "true rare" on a grill that had been on high heat (empty) for about 30 minutes (sadly, I didn't have any binchotan). The meat is unctuously rich, with a taste and in-mouth aroma a bit reminiscent of great olive oil. The "sashi" in the beef, according to the purveyor, starts to melt at about 25C (77F), so the meat was literally melting at mouth temperatures. Though utterly delicious and conveying a sense of complete luxury, so rich was the taste and feel that I couldn't eat more than about six small slices of it, which probably summed to 3-4 ounces. My family members had the same experience with it. It struck me then that the reason I had been served such small amounts of Kobe beef in Japan was not just a matter of cost, but also that no one would eat more than a few pieces of it. It's terrific with teriyaki sauce, by the way.
Still, you're absolutely right: I'd ask to see the raw beef, too, just for the joy of it, for a food geek such as I am.
I'm planning another trip to Japan in the near future. One of my goals this time is to seek out and taste Matsuzaka beef, considered to be superior to even Kobe beef in quality and much higher in price. According to a Japanese chefsworking here in Dallas, Matsuzaka beef is "the best" and is quite rare (another chef dissented in favor of "Yonezawa beef", which I've never heard of). It was explained as being the same cattle breed as Kobe gyu, which would make it Tajima cattle, raised with similar methods in Mie prefecture (Kobe is in Hyogo prefecture)
One of the sites where I learned about the grading scale:
a photo: http://www.flickr.co...orke/286177883/
a NY Times mention: http://query.nytimes.../gst/fullpage.h
from a prospective place to eat (but I'd have to visit Yokohama, which is not currently on my intinerary; I'll have to try to find it in another city):
from a Kyoto candidate:
Whew...perhaps you should move this to its own thread