Is Wagyu (Japanese Beef) or Hanwoo (Korean Beef) Better?

Meat lovers can’t get tired of trying new meat products. Every type and every recipe gives a new kind of joy. Similarly, regarding beef, two types are often discussed- Wagyu and Hanwoo.

One is Japanese beef (Wagyu), while one is Korean meat (Hanwoo). Their names are usually taken together; that’s why people compare them.

But since both types of beef are expensive, those who have never tried them before want to know which one is better, so they go for such meat first.

The truth is that both Wagyu and Hanwoo are special in their way. One is not better than the other because they both have distinct tastes and flavors. Those who love tenderness will think Hanwoo is better, while those who love firmness will think Wagyu is better.

But when you compare both types of beef, it seems like we can get an idea about which meat might be the best. So, stick with me till the end.

Comparison Between Wagyu and Hanwoo Beef

To know which beef type you will love the most, you must read about a complete comparison between these two.

When we compare Wagyu with Hanwoo, it becomes clear that both beef types are different and distinct. It is these differences that are the main factor in the comparison.

So, here are the points of differences between Wagyu and Hanwoo that will help you decide which meat you think is better for you:

1.   Tenderness

Hanwoo is much more tender meat than Wagyu. You will feel all the juiciness in it right after you take the first bite.

Whether you bake Hanwoo or roast it, the delicacy remains the same. Cooking methods have no impact (unless you burn the meat).

In comparison, Wagyu meat is also a bit tender but not at the same level as Hanwoo. It feels a little firm and chewy in the mouth.

But being less tender does not mean that it is not delicious. It will feel crispier than its counterpart.

So, if you have a knack for eating the juiciest meat pieces, you will surely love Hanwoo. But if you prefer crispier meat, then Wagyu is the beef you should go for.

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2.   Marbling

Have you ever seen white fat dots on the meat? These are called fat marbles because they resemble (pearls) marbles. This marbling is also a difference between Wagyu and Hanwoo.

Wagyu has more marbles (fat content) on it than Hanwoo. That is one of the main reasons you feel the taste difference between these two meat types.

These marbles melt in the mouth and give a great experience.

However, the cooked Wagyu feels greasy, too, because of these fat contents. On the other hand, Hanwoo has less yet intense marbles that feel light too.

3.   Flavor

The flavor of Hanwoo is different from Wagyu too. Hanwoo has a more beefy and umami touch despite having fewer marbles. A bite of it feels like you are eating Wagyu and Angus meat together. It’s that rich in taste.

Contrarily, Wagyu lacks a strong meaty flavor. Therefore, it feels bland if you don’t cook it with other flavor-rich ingredients and vegetables. Still, if you cook it right, this meat will taste heavenly.

4.   Cooking Ways

Both Wagyu and Hanwoo beef can be cooked in many ways. However, Hanwoo offers much more flexibility when it comes to cooking. It supports almost every vegetable, side, salad, and whatnot.

If you know how to cook, you can make a delish dish with Hanwoo meat as the main ingredient.

In addition, Hanwoo is considered one of the easiest cooking meats in the world. You can bake, roast, deep fry, shallow fry, or do anything you want with this meat. The reason is the ideal fat content in this meat.

When it comes to Wagyu, you have to be careful. The reason is that this meat is high in fat and gets really greasy and oily. This greasiness makes the taste bland and plain bad. Even the firmness of the meat won’t save the meat in this situation.

So, ensure you don’t add too much oil during its cooking as the oil within it also supports the cooking process.

It is suggested to bake and roast the Wagyu meat because its texture supports these ways.

5.   Impact On Health

Meat is super healthy for the health if you eat it in the right quantities. It can increase strength, enhance muscle growth, improve metabolism, boost energy, and do much more for the body.

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But the health status of Wagyu and Hanwoo is different. The fat content in the Wagyu makes it slightly less healthy than the Hanwoo beef.

If you cook Wagyu with a lot of oil will raise your cholesterol level. Similarly, this much fat will also increase weight and cause health problems.

However, this does not mean that Hanwoo is completely safe. Adding too much oil there can also cause health complications. But since it naturally has less fat than Wagyu, experts give it an edge over the other.

6.   Price

Another difference between these two types of meat is that Hanwoo is more expensive than Wagyu. It is because the Hanwoo breed is native to South Korea and is not found anywhere in the world.

If you see someone claiming to have Hanwoo meat, then the only possibility is that he has imported the meat from Korea.

The USA can’t have Hanwoo cattle because it requires a specific climate to breed, which is only available in South Korea. Furthermore, the breeding of these cattle is not that simple.

Farmers try new methods for breeding to become successful, which require time and money. But that’s not it. To get the perfect marbling, Hanwoo cattle should be bred for five to ten generations (15-30 years).

Similarly, Hanwoo cattle need high-quality feed to thrive. Malnourished breeds do not have good taste. That is why farmers give pine leaf mixed feed to them to have all the energy needed for growth.

The more these cattle eat, the more meat they will have on them. Therefore, it is understandable why Hanwoo meat is costly.

Wagyu, on the other hand, does not require these things. It can be bred in the USA as well. The first Wagyu cattle were imported in the 1980s, and since then, the USA has been breeding it for everyone.

7.   Availability

Hanwoo meat is available in South Korea only. If other countries want it, they have to import it. However, Korea has reduced the export of this meat in the last few decades, and now it is tough to find a reputable trader to send the actual Hanwoo meat to the USA or any other country.

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That is why if anyone outside Korea declares that he has Hanwoo meat, people have trouble believing him.

Contrarily, Wagyu can be easily found in countries other than Japan as other countries have started breeding these cattle too. So, it won’t be a surprise if you see it in every big restaurant shortly.

Now, it’s time to decide which beef is better.

Wagyu vs Hanwoo- Which Is Better?

Both Wagyu and Hanwoo are unique in their way. It is not ideal to compare both as they have distinct tastes. Some people will love Wagyu, while some will prefer to eat Hanwoo.

For example, if you love the beefy flavor and umami touch, you will say Hanwoo is better than Wagyu. Contrarily, if you want the meat to be firm, you will go for Wagyu every time. It all depends on a person’s personal choice.

However, judging by the comparison/difference points, it is still clear that Hanwoo has a slight edge over Wagyu in terms of a few factors, like fat content (marbling), cooking diversity, etc.

Still, no one can say that one beef meat is better than the other. You should try both whenever you get the chance and decide which one you think is the most delicious!

Final Remarks

All in all, meat lovers often wonder which beef is better- Wagyu or Hanwoo. Well, there is no definite answer to it.

Some people will like Wagyu because of its texture, while some will like Hanwoo because of its ideal marbling and tenderness.

However, when you compare both and notice the differences, you will realize that Hanwoo is slightly better than Wagyu. Korean beef has tenderness, juiciness, ideal marbling, umami flavor, and a beefy touch.

Wagyu meat also has these factors but the intensity is low. Therefore, many people believe that Hanwoo is better than Wagyu.

But I suggest you try both types of meat and decide which one you like the most!