How San Francisco's Gozu May Have Served Up A First With Its Wagyu Beef

There is no greater prize amongst meat-eaters than Japanese wagyu beef, although it turns out the term 'Japanese wagyu beef' is utterly redundant. According to the American Wagyu Association, 'wa' means 'Japanese,' and 'gyu' means 'cow.' Nevertheless, the distinction is still important because other wagyu variants are available from different countries. The original and authentic wagyu refers to cattle breeds native to Japan, where there are strict regulations in place to maintain certain genetic traits within the species. Food & Wine elaborates on the diversity of Wagyu cattle, noting that there are different breeds in different regions of Japan, the most famous being Kobe beef from the Hyōgo prefecture, home to the city of Kobe.

A5 Miyazaki is widely regarded as the highest quality wagyu beef in all the world, according to Business Insider, and it can fetch upwards of $100 per pound. As you can imagine, importing wagyu steaks to the United States is not exactly cost-efficient, and Insider reports that the value of Japanese wagyu exports rose more than 200% in the second half of the 2010s. In the face of these rising prices, one restaurant in San Francisco has found a way to get the most bang for their wagyu buck while minimizing food waste.

Gozu imports whole cows from Japan

Gozu opened its doors to San Francisco diners in late 2019 under the guidance of chef Marc Zimmerman (via The San Francisco Chronicle). Zimmerman spent seven years as a chef with Alexander's Steakhouse, where he cultivated strong relationships with the Japanese cattle farmers he imported wagyu from. Speaking to Eater, Zimmerman recalled that one of these farmers asked him why he continued importing individual steaks instead of ordering an entire wagyu cattle carcass. At that time, Zimmerman knew of no American restaurateur that had even considered doing so, but he loved the idea and adopted it at his new restaurant: Gozu. Thus he became, as far as he knows, the first American chef to start regularly importing entire cows rather than individual cuts of wagyu.

Zimmerman told Eater that he places great value on the sacrifice required to eat meat, and he seeks to honor the cow by utilizing every piece of the body that he can on his menu, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. According to BusinessWire, this includes some very creative applications like burning beef bones in place of charcoal and fermenting less desirable cuts to make a meat-based shoyu. Gozu serves a tasting menu featuring five distinct cooking styles: grilled, steamed, fried, simmered, and served raw. At $95-150, it's far from cheap but still a bargain compared to the wagyu options you'll find in many other restaurants.