Japanese Kobe beef is considered the tastiest beef money can buy: a single steak can cost as much as $600.
But an INSIDE EDITION investigation found that while some menus advertise Kobe beef, they are actually serving up meat of lesser value.
Kobe beef, which has a marbled appearance, comes from pure-bred cattle raised on a special diet in Japan. The meat can cost $55 dollars an ounce, and only 400 pounds get shipped to in the U.S. each month, according to Kobe beef distributor Brent Nakama.
Across the U.S., there are only eight restaurants certified to sell Kobe beef, according to the Kobe Beef Association.
INSIDE EDITION visited restaurants in New York and California to find out if any of them are claiming to be serving Kobe beef.
The upscale Hendrick’s Tavern on Long Island, New York is not one of the authorized Kobe beef sellers but they sell a Kobe hot dog for $17.
The manager refused to talk to INSIDE EDITION’s Lisa Guerrero after she asked if the hot dogs contained real Kobe beef.
In New York City, Le Bernardin – a 3-star Michelin restaurant – was serving a $110 Kobe beef lunch on its menu.
Guerrero asked the manager for a Kobe beef certification and he offered to present it to her, but he never returned.
The owner later called to say they made a mistake, and immediately changed the menu from Kobe beef to Japanese Wagyu, a less expensive Japanese beef.
At one of New York City’s most famous steakhouses, Old Homestead, Kobe is listed on the menu for $175 to $350, depending on the size.
However, it is not authentic Kobe beef, according to the Kobe Beef Association.
When Guerrero spoke to owner Marc Sherry, he told her: “You're getting hung up on what the name is.”
Guerrero replied: “It's either Kobe beef or it's not Kobe beef.”
“We have the finest Japanese beef that money can buy,” he insisted.
He also told Guerrero that the restaurant is “absolutely not” misleading customers with its menu.
The manager of 212 Steakhouse in New York City, which sells certified Kobe beef, is outraged that so many restaurants are cashing in on the Kobe name.
“A lot of people are just putting Kobe on the menu, just the word Kobe and jacking up the price,” the manager said. “You should get what you pay for and if you are not getting the real thing, you should not be paying the real price.”
At the Wynn Hotel's SW Steakhouse in Las Vegas, a certified seller, the Kobe beef they sell is the real deal.
Chef David Walzog said: “When guests are out there buying things that are absolutely exclusive and expensive, there needs to be truth in the menu.”
So how can you know if your restaurant is serving certified Kobe beef? Each restaurant should be able to show customers a special golden Kobe beef statue and certification provided by the Kobe Beef Association.
Here are the eight certified Kobe beef restaurants in America:
1. 212 Steakhouse Restaurant, New York, NY
2. Alexander's Steakhouse-Cupertino, Cupertino, CA
3. Alexander's Steakhouse-San Francisco Restaurant, San Francisco, CA
4. SLS Las Vegas - Bazaar Meat by José Andrés Restaurant, Las Vegas, NV
5. Jean Georges Steakhouse, Aria Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, NV
6. Nick & Sam's Restaurant, Dallas, TX
7. Wynn Las Vegas – SW Steakhouse Restaurant, Las Vegas, NV
8. Teppanyaki Ginza Onodera, Honolulu, HI