Barbecuing goes upmarket as Wagyu beef hits the menu

Tossing supermarket chops on to the barbecue is the limit of culinary ambition for most people firing up the grill this summer.

Connoisseurs, though, are about to discover the stakes - and prices - have risen dramatically on the bangers and burgers front.

For £72, barbecue lovers can now invest in 12 bangers and a dozen burgers made from prized Wagyu beef. With its exotic name and exalted reputation, Wagyu (originally from Japan but now farmed from Chile to Australia) is the most expensive meat on the market, costing up to £500 a kilogramme.

Its exquisite tenderness is reputed to stem from the relaxing conditions in which the cows are kept before slaughter. Wagyu are arguably the world's most pampered cattle.

They are massaged to relieve tired muscles, fed beer to stimulate their appetites and played classical music to soothe their nerves.

Wagyu has been appearing at a price on the menus of top London restaurants but until now has been largely unavailable to the general public.

A little thicker than the usual barbecue fare, Wagyu meat costs £22 for a dozen sausages and £50 for a dozen burgers.

They are handmade in London by the former chefs Leon and Sarah Aarts, a couple who run Discerning Foods, an online meat ordering service. Their customers include the chef Gordon Ramsay and some of the country's most expensive restaurants including Nobu and Hakkasan.

Wagyu beef is high in saturated fat, leading to its distinctive marbled appearance and a sensation described as "melting" in the mouth. Only seasoning and herbs are added to the burgers and bangers made from Chilean Wagyu.

Mr Aarts said: "There's nothing worse than a tasteless burger or a boring banger, but our sausages and burgers are the tastiest in the world. Everyone should taste Wagyu beef at least once in their lifetime.

"Customers can place orders online and receive them within two days, which means with careful planning not having to brave the supermarkets at the weekend - a luxury in itself."

The provision of Wagyu to homes threatens to turn the meat into something of a carnivorous craze. The meat hit the headlines earlier this year when the department store Selfridge's launched the most expensive sandwich in the world - priced at £85 - made from Wagyu beef on sour-dough bread, smeared with mayonnaise flavoured with foie gras and black truffle.

For a limited period, the Japanese restaurant Zuma in London sold a Wagyu burger for £55. Its owner Rainer Becker introduced it after a special request from the actor Pierce Brosnan, who ordered the delicacy twice while dining with him in Japan.

"It had such an impact that Rainer decided to introduce it to the Zuma menu," a spokeswoman for the restaurant in Knightsbridge said.

"It rivals pâté de foie gras for richness, tenderness, calorific content - and cost."

Zuma now serves Wagyu sirloin at £58.30 and Wagyu fillet at £65, both with soy and wasabi on hoba leaf.

Selfridge's said yesterday it has sold "approaching 200" of its £85 sandwiches, which were first thought of as a publicity stunt.

Proof of Wagyu's status as a foodie must-have came in a recent BBC online poll which named the meat as one of the top 50 foods you should eat before you die.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'