Battle of The Beef: Korean Beef vs Other Premium Beef

Discovering Hanwoo

We all know about Korean beef dishes, some great examples are famous internationally. There’s bulgogi, thinly sliced or shredded beef marinated and grilled, and there’s beef galbi, also known as the popular Korean barbeque. Beef is the most prized of all meats, with the cattle holding an important cultural role in Korea.

You might have tried or heard of Wagyu, Kobe, and Black Angus – all premium beef with hefty price tags for just a few bites. How about Hanwoo? Hanwoo is South Korea’s prized beef and accordingly priced. It is more expensive than Wagyu of comparable quality, but not as expensive as Kobe (bred in Japan’s Hyogo prefecture), and it’s double the price of a comparable cut of US or Australian beef. They say Hanwoo beef is highly coveted. The demand is high but supply is limited, hence, the most expensive meat in the country. South Korea is small with limited land for cows to roam, so space is limited to breed and grow the stock.

Hanwoo is Korea’s native cattle, have been raised in the Korean Peninsula since 2,000 BC, raised primarily for draught and occasionally for sacrificial rites. Cattle was few and beef consumption low until the economy started to enjoy good growth. The cows have a golden brown coat, have relatively superior fertility but their slow growth rate and reduced milking yield reduce total beef production. The Korean cattle industry has aimed to increase the cattle number to meet the growing demand for beef in Korea. With the improvement of the economy more palatable beef is increasing in demand.

Hanwoo might be popular in South Korea, but it doesn’t have international name recognition like Wagyu or Kobe. For one, the cases of foot and mouth disease (FMD) reports in South Korea in 2000 barred the country from exportation. Though it was lifted in 2014, the slow-growing herds were depleted already and the high domestic demand for it cause shortage at home.

Hanwoo’s attractive flavor is not as beefy and lean as American steaks tend to be, nor as fatty as Wagyu. It has all the beefy flavor of a USDA Prime without being overpowered by the oily marbling associated with Kobe and Wagyu. The secret to its perfect balance lies in how the animals are raised and fed. Both Hanwoo and Wagyu eat grains, but the Hanwoo diet tends toward corn, while Wagyu usually relies on oats. In South Korea, expensive Hanwoo is generally eaten as part of a casual Korean barbecue experience.

Enjoying Korean-American Style Beef in Bellevue

Come by Seoul Hot Pot in Bellevue and enjoy our delectable beef selections. We’ve got the best Korean delicacies on the eastside, combining traditional and chef originals in modern surroundings.