Ancient beef?/ Kodai-gyu

Posted on Oct 7, 2010 in Hiroko's Blog

Today after meetings I stopped and shopped forsome healthy, easy-to-prepare food items at the famous Ginza Mitsukoshi Department Store food court. I wanted to buy some nourishing tretats for my mom who just returned to her home after one month hospitalization.  On my way out of the store to the subway entrance I passed a butcher which had an unusual display case of beef (the photo below). 

Out of curiosity I stopped and stared at each of the large blocks of beef in the case, then noticed the brand name of the products and their prices.  The brand name is Kodai-gyu , the direct translation of which is ancient beef. I have never before heard of such a product.  Catching my confused facial expression a young sales woman, and then, the president of the company, Mr. Kojima, who happened to be working behind the sales counter on that day approached and explained to me the story of this very special beef. 

In ancient Japan cows were not raised for consumption, but were important work animals on the farm.  So, farmers raised these valuable and very useful animals with care, much love and natural feed.  Mr. Kojima believes that the best tasting beef comes from cows raised in this traditional manner.  So, this is how farmers raise cows for Mr. Kojima.  After the calf is born, it is kept with mother for half a year.  During this period the calf is mostly fed with mother’s milk, her love and some rice straw and grasses.  Mr. Kojima emphasized that mother’s milk contribute to two important factors – It reduces the chances of calf’s sickness and provides great satisfaction and much less stress to the calf – both contribute to producing cows that are both mentally and physically healthy.  This is the secret of delicious beef, Mr. Kojima said.   After half a year, calf is fed with natural feed – rice straw, field grasses along with some mixed grains.

Another secret of this Kodai-gyu, is that it is aged.  According to Mr. Kojima dressed beef is cleaned and aged whole for four weeks in a cold walk-in; then cut into blocks and further aged in a temperature and humidity controlled, air-circulating glass case.  I was amazed to see the aged beef surrounded by snow white fat.  Aging did not turn it to yellow.  Komima-san sliced a thin piece from a large block, lightly salted and quickly cooked it in a skillet for me to taste.  The above photo shows the raw slice and the other, the cooked one.  When I slowly bit into the piping hot slice, sweetness and noticeable good “flavor” exploded in my mouth.  I have never tasted such a clean, flavorful meat.  Mr. Kojima has a dream to introduce this delicious beef raised in a humane environment and aged with care to a world-wide audience.  Visit