A $180 Japanese Steak Sandwich Is Coming to America

The over-the-top restaurateurs behind Wagyumafia are bringing their wagyu sandwich to San Francisco.

Wagyu steak sandwich with white bread Photo: courtesy Wagyumafia

The guys behind Wagyumafia in Tokyo—Takafumi Horie and Hisato Hamada—are obsessed with the famed, fatty, Kobe beef wagyu. They’ve opened an exclusive, members-only dining club to serve it, paid the highest price for a Kobe cow in 2016 ($50,000 for the 1,510-lb animal), and set up a small shop just for steak sandwiches.

Now, they’re going to bring their love of wagyu stateside, so Americans can experience their $180 Kobe beef sandwich for themselves.

In Japan, Hamada is known as “The Wagyu Master” for his devotion to spreading the gospel of Kobe beef both at home and abroad. Prior to founding Wagyumafia, he spent nearly two decades cultivating relationships with farmers in Japan’s Hyōgo Prefecture (where the country’s most coveted beef originates). Those relationships made him one of the country’s leading exporters. As that business grew, he founded the private dining club with Horie as a way to further educate the public on wagyu. Eventually, the two opened a less exclusive outlet in order to serve the steak in a more stripped-down way. The little restaurant with one standing table is called—simply enough—Waygumafia Cutlet Sandwich. That’s where they started serving their famed Kobe Shabu sandwich.

The Shabu begins with Kobe beef chateaubriand, which is a portion of the tenderloin. Considering there’s only about 1.3 lbs of chateaubriand in a 1,300-lb cow, there’s no mystery behind the price of the sandwich; at the original Waygumafia location, ordering a 12-oz portion costs $2,500. The rest of the preparation is pretty simple. A slice of the filet is breaded and fried, and then placed on toasted white bread that’s been smeared with a sauce made from soy sauce and vinegar.

The sandwich will make its American debut in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood starting next year.


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