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What Is The Most Expensive Steak Cut?

/ July 6, 2019

What are the most expensive steak cut selections available for purchase today? We've taken a close look at the market and identified five cuts of meat from the highest end of the price scale. If you're in the market for the best, these are the undisputed top dollar steak cuts.

In this article we will provide an overview of some other popular cuts meat and their respective prices. Below we will take into account the cost in US dollars. We will also provide a brief account of the meats' best qualities as this will help to explain the cost.

The Most Expensive Steak Cut

Japanese Kobe Beef

Let's be clear up front — Kobe beef is a category of Japanese Wagyu beef. While there are different cattle in the Wagyu family (more on that below), Kobe beef comes only from Japanese Black or the Tajima breed. Each cow must be born, raised, and slaughtered in Japan's Hyōgo prefecture. Specific enough?

There is no such thing as “American Kobe” as this is a trademarked meat. Don't be deceived by such claims. Strict terms for raising these cattle are prescribed by the Japanese prefecture of Hyōgo to guard quality and exclusivity. Understand this as you go to make your purchase.

Kobe Beef

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Some unscrupulous food industry folk have used the term “Kobe steak.” They were more likely serving wagyu beef (American or Japanese.) This issue has resulted in legal fights. Just as you can't create a craft beer and name it “Budweiser,” you can't claim the name “Kobe steak.” As Japan only exports 10% of its 5,000 head of Kobe cattle, be sure you're getting true Kobe steak.

When it comes to the price, Kobe is unparalleled in cost. As the most expensive steak cut out there, Kobe fetches about $200 per pound. In some places in Japan, prices reach $1200 per pound. To break that down, each bite is about $50 US. If you plan a trip Japan and you want to have this delicacy as part of your experience, be sure to factor it into your travel budget.

Japanese Wagyu Beef

As specifically defined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF), wagyu refers only to 100% pure strains of Japanese Shorthorn, Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, or Japanese Polled cows. The Japanese very jealously guard this definition.

There is strict control on the soil from which the animals' food is derived, the drinking water source, and the cows' food itself. What breeders attempt to achieve is a cow with a body composition that is lower in blood and muscle and higher in fat. As an example, Miyazaki cows are raised exclusively on sake mash and vegetation grown in volcanic soil. This exceptionally fertile, nutrient-dense soil enriches the beef's taste and texture.

It shouldn't be surprising that cows with a full spa treatment are going to be expensive. It is not a myth. These cows drink beer, get massages, and have music played to them. Now you can see why these are one of the most expensive steak cut options.

One thing to note is that Kobe was already defined and priced above. So, we will not be considering it in the broader wagyu category here. We will narrow our focus to the remaining three cattle breeds. As confusing as this may be, just remember this rule: all Kobe is wagyu, but not all wagyu is Kobe.


The grading system for this beef is on a scale that eclipses any other country's steak grading. To understand this better, just realize that the American scale grades a bit differently. In order to qualify for the top USDA grading for prime grade steak, a cut must consist of 6-8% marbled fat. While in Japan, to achieve the top quality grade for wagyu, the meat must be at least 25% marbled fat.

The level of marbling is astounding. The fat striates through the meat in a stunning spiderweb array. Here is where the cost is so high. Though the following don't qualify for the most expensive steak cut, these other wagyu meats are still very pricey. You can expect to pay between $250 and $500 per pound. Should you ever want the top grade variety steak (Japanese A-5 grade), be prepared to pay top dollar.

Red meat with chili pepper and green spice

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American Wagyu Beef

They might well call this a Japanese inspired beef. The very term wagyu means Japanese cow. "Wa" means Japanese and "gyu" is the Japanese term for cow. It is true that full-blooded American wagyu have the same genetic bloodlines as their Japanese counterparts.

However, the major differences are in both the cattle's cuisine and their feeding grounds. Your dining experience will be significantly different because of this. The American variety is the best possible imitation of the Japanese original — but it's not quite the same thing.

This delicious beef option will give you a uniquely fatty steak. American wagyu beef furnishes a golden and satisfying cut of steak. These are very tender and packed with flavor. You'll immediately see the deep, marbled fat content and the paler appearance of the meat's color.

For a pound of this steak, you can expect to pay about $110 to $120. Now imagine feeding a party of four on a $480 meat budget. Because of that price tag, American wagyu beef is one of the most expensive steak varieties.

Beef steak on a black plate

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Filet Mignon

Next, we will consider one of the most sophisticated, succulent, cut-with-a-fork tender cuts of steak ever — the filet mignon. Cut from the tenderloin, this tasty steak is a beef aficionado's favorite. It is a very lean cut of beef and has a delicate, buttery body.

Don't be fooled when you see 1 to 2-inch thick filet mignon slices that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter in the market. Those are not true mignons. True mignons go no more than one inch in diameter.

The filet mignon is taken from the tapered end of the tenderloin. This is a tube-shaped cut of meat. Therefore, these cuts are naturally rounded. This is a distinct characteristic of filet mignon.

Don't expect to see the level of marbling that exists on the rest of the tenderloin. While not as flavorful as other cuts, you will get a melty, tender texture. While it lacks in fat marbling and fat content, it makes up for it by having an incredible texture.

Roughly translated, filet mignon means “the thick slice that is dainty.” As we mentioned earlier, filet mignon comes from the smaller end of the tenderloin. It is naturally more rare than other cuts of steak on the market. Just how rare is it? The average cow has around 500 grams of filet mignon.

So those two factors are what accounts for the high cost. It is the combination of tenderness and rarity that raises the price. A pound of filet mignon goes for around $20 to $30 a pound.

Steak food with fresh tomatoes and vegetables

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New York Strip

This cut of steak goes by many names. You may have heard it called a New York Strip, Kansas City Strip, or top loin. In international English-speaking countries, there are many more names. For sake of easy reference, we'll call it the New York Strip. Whatever name you give it, you'll surely call it tasty.

This muscle is rarely exercised, so it stays supple and more tender. It is ultra rich in flavor and is naturally a big cut of steak. The crowning features of the New York strip are tenderness, large size, and outstanding flavor.

While more accessible to the average consumer and less rare in general, that doesn't mean it is inexpensive. You won't be paying filet mignon or American wagyu rates. But prepare to pay $15 to $20 per pound. This rounds out the priciest cuts of steak on our list.

Conclusion

When you are looking for the best steak, knowing the meat is step one. What is your taste? Then comes the question of budget. What you are willing to pay? How much is it worth to you to eat some of the world's best steak?

Great cuts of meat like the ones discussed in this entry represent the upper end of the price range. Even though you may not eat these cuts every night, at least now you have a handy guide to the costs. You can also use this article to better understand the major features of each cut. The bottom line is this: they are pricey for a reason. Each one is a great cut!


Of course, 200-dollar cuts can make you reconsider ever going for top quality steaks. Look around and you'll find a wide variety of flavorful and finely textured cuts that are less expensive than these most expensive steak cut options. Regardless, if you want to serve the highest grade steak, prepare to pay high prices.

When you are looking for the best steak, be aware that it will be the most expensive steak cut on the market. Remember the old expression, “You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.” That saying is very appropriate when discussing steak cuts.