It was only fitting, recently, that Hidagyu, the idyllically raised Japanese beef, had a reintroduction of sorts in one of Downtown Los Angeles’ most idyllic dining spots. It was there, at Chef David Schlosser’s Michelin-starred, Kappo-style Shibumi, that a host of food influencers and literati gathered to sample Schlosser’s take on the beef renowned for its unique marbling, soft texture and delicate flavor.
Working at the dining bar created from a single 400-year-old cypress trunk, Schlosser applied his rather legendary intentional focus to creating three dishes: a Hidagyu sashimi, Hidagyu corned beef as well as a ground, sweetened version, sitting atop rice that could have served as a dessert.
Before eating Schlosser’s creations, the assembled watched live video hookups with government officials and Hidagyu farmers extolling the meat’s many virtues that range from its flavor but the fact that the overall high quality that extends throughout the product allows even less expensive off-cuts to be used to exceptional effect in dishes, thereby helping with a restaurants’ bottom line.
This wasn’t Hidagyu’s American coming out party, it had that about seven years ago, but its economic advantages are a particularly important consideration in these inflationary times.
“Using a less expensive cut, sometimes like half as expensive, I can still give you the same taste,” Schlosser said. “That makes for an easier point of entry for a lot of people, especially today when everything is just so damn expensive.”
The farmer spoke of how his black cattle are raised in Gifu Prefecture in what can only be described as ideal, bordering on fairy tale conditions, as they drink water from sparkling clean springs, graze on ultra clean grass, standing amid the crisp, clean air of the Japanese Alps.
All of this contributes to the beef’s tenderness and creates a delicate webbing of fat that seals in the meat’s juices. And, as Schlosser showed, it makes Hidagyu a willing and able partner to a chef’s ideas and technical skills.
“It’s got a clean, beef taste,” Schlosser said. “I find that intriguing to work with.”
Schlosser’s work soon made its way to those packed into Shibumi’s few tables–Kappo’s multi-course meals are not only entirely left up to the chef, but typically served in small spaces that lend themselves to a familiar, almost cozy relationship between creator and consumer. Schlosser’s gift-giving began with the sashimi, the only one of the three to use a premium cut. Tender to the point of disintegration, its appearance served to quiet what had been a rather chummily raucous interior.
Next came the corned beef which, judging from later conversations, served as many guests’ favorite. Served in a light, comforting broth, in the company of daikon, it both soothed and excited the palate.
Finally, came the ground version, set atop a bed of rice that, when combined, took turns delighting the palate and then pacifying it in preparation for another blast of sweetness. A balanced, intentional dish to cap a day sampling beef raised with intentional balance. One whose time, and price may have come.