“Wagyu is totally unlike any steak you’ve ever had,” says Eric San Pedro. “When you eat it, you can’t believe it’s beef. It’s so heavily marbled that your body temperature will render the fat, and the meat will literally melt in your mouth.”
San Pedro’s love affair with Japanese Wagyu began years ago when he was introduced to it in Las Vegas, and it quickly became an obsession. He began connecting with people who could deliver the product to his door and gradually developed a network of suppliers and purveyors, which led to the opening of Palm Beach Meats (located off Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach) in June.
“We carry Japanese Wagyu from prefectures that customers can’t usually find, and we also focus on Australian Wagyu in the higher marbling grades,” he explains. “But we’re not just a butcher shop. We have a selection of top-quality local produce, and there are vegetarians who come in every week.” The store also hosts pop-up lunches and dinners on the weekends.
For those buying Wagyu for the first time, San Pedro shares his tips on what to look for.
• Buy fresh meat. Wagyu freezes well, but not for a long period of time.
• Look for a certificate of authenticity. Every piece of meat is tracked with a number, and every purveyor should have documentation.
• Wagyu is graded according to the degree of marbling. In Japan, 5 is the highest; in Australia, it’s 9. However, not everyone likes the same level of richness.
• Assess before buying. There are no consistent ratings for American Wagyu, so assess the marbling with your eyes.
• Don’t be put off by the cost. You’ll only eat 3 or 4 ounces at a sitting, and you’ll end up spending less than you would in a restaurant.