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David Hagedorn | Photo: Greg Powers | April 4, 2014
Rare Japanese A5 Wagyu seduces the palate at two culinary hot spots.
If 60-day dry-aged USDA prime is the Cadillac of beef, then Japanese A5 wagyu is the Lamborghini: the ultimate dining experience for the committed carnivore. We called upon two of DC’s leading steakhouses to come up with the ultimate pairings for the truly discerning. Bourbon Steak and BLT Steak’s A5 wagyu comes from the Miyazaki prefecture, whose beef is considered among the world’s finest. The A (highest), B or C ratings pertain to the proportion of meat that comes from between the sixth and seventh rib, which is closer to the shoulder, fattier and more flavorful. The number grade of 1 through 5 (highest) is awarded for quality in four categories: marbling and color of the meat and texture and color of the fat.
Chef John Critchley lines up seared $30-per-ounce squares of A5 rib cap like glistening, blood-red dominos and serves them with a trio of condiments including a quenelle of A5 fat whipped into a silken butter. If that doesn’t gild the lily enough, Head Bartenders Jamie MacBain and Duane Sylvestre pair a trio of Japanese whiskies for $130: 12-year Yamazaki Single Malt Whiskey; 15-year Yoichi; and Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt Ace of Clubs, which itself goes for $90 per ounce. Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.944.2026
“You can’t eat much more than 4 ounces of wagyu A5 because it’s so decadent,” says chef Jeremy Shelton. He’s right. The dice-size bites of wagyu striploin (the restaurant offers A5 for $25 per ounce, with a 4-ounce minimum) I sample are mostly white, but the fat melts in the mouth like foie gras while leaving a distinct sweet, beefy note. Big tannins in the paired Cesari Amarone 2008, says General Manager Adam Sanders, stand up to the meat’s robust marbling, while its fruit and cherry notes offer balance and harmony. 1625 I St. NW, 202.689.8999