Kobe beef (神戸ビーフ, Kōbe Bīfu?) refers to cuts of beef from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, raised according to strict tradition in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. The meat is generally considered to be a delicacy, renowned for its flavour, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. Kobe beef can be prepared as steak, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, sashimi, teppanyaki and more.
Kobe beef is also called "Kobe-niku" (神戸肉?, lit. Kobe meat), "Kobe-gyū" (神戸牛?, lit Kobe cow) or "Kobe-ushi" (神戸牛?, lit Kobe cow) in Japanese.
The Wagyu cattle that produce this highly prized meat were introduced into Japan in the second century as work animals, used in rice cultivation. As beef consumption became more prominent in society, farmers began hiring workers to massage the animals' backsides to improve meat quality. The mountainous topography of the islands of Japan resulted in small regions of isolated breeding, yielding herds that developed and maintained qualities in their meat that differ significantly from all other breeds of cattle. Herd isolation and distinctive feeding techniques which resulted from the limited land availability have led to distinguishing features that make the meat both superior in marbling and in the ratios of unsaturated versus saturated fats.