Food

BLT Steak Offers a Portlandia-esque "Certificate of Authenticity" for Its Japanese Cows

His name was Kabocha. Here are his papers.
The Certificate of Authenticity at BLT Steak lists name, date of birth, and carcass number.

Kabocha was born in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture on May 10, 2012. His father’s name was Mizuterushige, and mother Dai112hatsumi. I know, because I ate him.

In a Portlandia-esque sequence of events, BLT Steak has begun presenting diners with the Certificate of Authenticity upon request that verifies the meat on guests’s plates is pure Japanese Wagyu. A dinner hosted by the restaurant last night centered around slices of Kabocha (the steer, not the Asian variety of squash he’s named after), which arrived alongside a document listing a full range of statistics that one might find on a human birth certificate–name, sex, a little nose print instead of a foot–as well as those more particular to cattle: radioactive inspection results (none), harvest date (January 19, 2015), and carcass number. Diners aren’t encouraged to visit the farm where Kabocha was raised, but this is the closest to Portlandia-style dining you can get in Washington.

Is it local? No, that’s the point. “Wagyu” designates several breeds of cattle known for well-marbled (i.e. deliciously fatty) meat. The term is thrown around pretty loosely in the restaurant industry. There’s premium Japanese Wagyu, which includes the highest A5 grade that BLT Steak serves. There’s also American Wagyu, a domestic breed, Australian wagyu, and so on. The pure Japanese product is the most prized by chefs and steak connoisseurs–who pay royally for it, $35 per ounce at BLT–so a Certificate of Authenticity makes sense. Besides generally authenticating the meat, the document also confirms the Beef Marbling Standard (BMS)–BLT’s is 11 out of 12, which rarely leaves Japan–and production area; the Miyazaki Prefecture where Kabocha hails from is generally considered one of the best.

Sadly, no one can vouch for the hazelnuts.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.