Twenty years ago, the world watched amateur chef Kensuke Sakai wheel his trusty food cart through the gates of Kitchen Stadium—then the battleground for one of the largest, most famous cooking shows of all time, The Iron Chef. At just 26 years old, Sakai was the youngest challenger—and also the first food cart owner—to ever take part in the competition.
Today, he is the man behind several restaurants in Japan and Singapore, and most recently the executive chef of Miyazaki Gyu, Manila’s newest Japanese restaurant.
Roast Beef and Torched Sushi
Cows can get straight A's, too
Miyazaki Gyu is named for its exclusive use of Miyazaki Wagyu—recently acknowledged as some of the best beef you can find anywhere in the world. All of the beef served at the restaurant is flown directly from the Miyazaki Prefecture on the Japanese island of Kyushu, wherein these purebred cattle are taken special care of through a strict diet of grass and mineral water from the Miyazaki springs. Later, they are separated into groups of no larger than four at a time, allowing for every cow’s individual needs to be taken into consideration.
Japanese Stew and Rib-Eye Steak
This level of care and attention to detail has gained the Miyazaki Wagyu a ranking of A5, the highest possible mark on the Japanese beef grading system. Bearing in mind the rigor of the assessment criteria, which was created and standardized by the Japanese Meat Grading Association, achieving this is no small feat. Here’s how it works:
The letter in each beef ranking represents the Yield Grade, or “the proportion of meat obtained from a certain part of cattle body.” An A-grade, as in the case of Miyazaki Wagyu, means that 72 percent or more of its meat is of usable quality, while a grade of B signifies that at least 69 percent is fit for use. Meanwhile, if only less than 69 percent of the meat is usable, the cut of beef is awarded a C-grade.
The number that follows the letter represents the Quality Grade, which is determined by a combination of four characteristics: beef marbling, color and brightness of meat, firmness and texture of meat, and quality of fat. Each of these is given a mark from one to five, and the overall score is scaled down to match the lowest of the four marks.
This means that Miyazaki Wagyu’s A5 ranking has been maintained all these years by consistently scoring perfect fives in all of these criteria. A true delicacy, beef cuts that have obtained such a status even have their own designated display counters at restaurants and are typically saved for special occasions.
The concept behind Miyazaki Gyu
In a conversation with Sakai, he revealed that while “there are many kinds of A5,” the special difference with the Miyazaki Wagyu lies in its fat, which is sweet and “not sticky in the mouth.” This makes it ideal for the cooking of popular Japanese beef dishes, like sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, and yakiniku—all of which will be offered at Miyazaki Gyu. These dishes are best enjoyed, he adds, with a classic red wine, Japanese sake, or fruity white wine.
Chef Kensuke Sakai with a sliver of Miyazaki Wagyu
The true intention of the restaurant is clear and simple: to provide “real Japanese food, service, and atmosphere,” while also pertaining to the Filipino palate. To fulfill the latter, Sakai disclosed that he tweaks the dishes ever so slightly so that they are a little bit sweeter, but nonetheless very authentic.
Miyazaki Gyu, One McKinley Place, 4th Avenue corner 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.