Move over wagyu because there's a new steak eyeing your place.
Mishima, a rare breed of Japanese cattle, has found an exclusive spot on the menu at Rockpool Dining in Sydney and Melbourne, ready to muscle its way to the top of the pecking order of prime cuts.
At $190 a serve, momentum has been gathering for this delicacy. While Perry has had Mishima steak on the menu for the past eight years, he says there's a demand for its marbled premium softness like never before.
"We're the only restaurant outside of Japan serving Mishima," says Culinary Director Neil Perry who purchases exclusively from Australian breeder David Blackmore who also supplies the luxury restaurant wagyu as well.
"It is grass fed, but finished on rations and isn't required to be on the grass for 600 days like wagyu," explains Perry.
The Mishima bull only spends between 90 and 120 days on grass allowing a cleaner flavour to develop in the final product.
"With wagyu you get a beautiful richness tenderness; an almost caramel popcorn flavour, but with Mishima you get a long clean flavour of beef," explains Perry.
"Because of the intramuscular marbling in the meat, you get an amazing melted tenderness that differs from the wagyu," he says.
Chew the fat
"What's more, the natural flavour of the animal is allowed to be displayed and it's not adulterated by the fattiness that comes with grain fed beef," says Perry.
(When it comes to marble scores [that's the fatty white streaks between the meat], the Aussie market is capped at 9+ [and the rating served at Rockpool] whereas in Japan it goes up to 13.)
History and folklore
The cattle's pedigree dates back to 1739 and originated on the the small 30km radius island of Mishima in Japan.
So just how did Mishima end up in Australia?
Fifth generation Australian farmer David Blackmore, who has studied Japanese genetics and methodology literally took life by the bullhorns when a friend in the USA called him to ask if he knew what sort of cattle he had obtained.
Perry explains Blackmore, who has been breeding wagyu since the 80s, took a plane to the USA to identify the animal - as he suspected it was a Mishima bull.
"He then took some of the semen and had it frozen and brought it to Australia," adds Perry.
"It's the forerunner of wagyu and the original Japanese cow," explains Perry of the animal that has larger muscles and bone mass allowing it to marble well.
Folklore has it that Japanese gangsters once sent a Mishima bull to Mexican drug lord Pablo Escobar [who died in 1993] as a birthday present. Given the rare nature of the breed, it was the ultimate solidarity salute.
Know your cut
While the marbling is scored among professionals, diners might not spot the difference so easily once it's cooked, but the emphasis is on the buttery tenderness that ends up on your plate.
Rockpool purchases up to 20 Mishima cattle a year from Blackmore's property in Alexandra, NSW.
"We have a great relationship with David Blackmore," says Perry. "It's such an honour to work with him and through out animal program aim to deliver premium meat to diners and take them on a flavour journey they won't get anywhere else."