Victus Members enjoy the following perk when visiting this restaurant:
Chances are if you’ve had Kobe beef in the last couple of years here in NYC, you were tricked. From 2001 to 2006, and again from 2010 to the end of 2012, all Japanese beef (including the famously Japanese Kobe beef), was banned by the USDA. ALL. OF. IT.
Even though Kobe was legally allowed to be imported after 2012, the US imported exactly 0 lbs of it in 2013. Yeah, that’s right, none was imported. Think about it, Japan produces only about 3-4000 heads of Kobe beef a year, and of that amount, 90% doesn’t leave Japan, half of the rest after that goes straight to Hong Kong, then the rest is divided by 7 other countries of which the US is behind even Macau. Add to all of this, the fact that use of the word “Kobe” isn’t regulated here in the States, and it’s pretty safe to say that that Kobe beef burger you had that one time recently, well, wasn’t.
With all the widespread fraud that has been happening as of late, the Kobe Beef Distribution & Promotion Council (the bigwigs in charge of deciding where those precious few cattle end up) has decided to start a licensing strategy to show which individual restaurants are truly importing Kobe beef.
Enter 212 Steakhouse. A relatively new steakhouse in Midtown (on E 53rd St.) and one of the first (and only at the moment) restaurants in NYC to have the golden (almost literally) seal of authenticity.
The golden statute is prominently displayed in the front of the restaurant as you walk in, and considering the journey to Japan, considerable expense and training once there, owner Nikolay Volper had to go through to get it, there’s good reason it’s front and center.
Besides being the only place in NYC (on the East Coast at the moment even) to have this certificate, Volper also sought out purveyors of Austalian Wagyu, American Wagyu, and Japanese Wagyu –giving you plenty of options of some of the most highly regarded beef in the world when you sit down in this not-so-average steakhouse.
Now, before you already write this all off because when I wrote “highly regarded” all you saw was “extremely expensive”, there’s more. In addition to providing access to all these lovely meats, at 212 Steakhouse, you can order the two most expensive (the Japanese Kobe and Japanese Wagyu, respectively) by the ounce at the following prices:
While still not cheap – $54 for the smallest amount of Kobe and $36 for the smallest amount of Wagyu – if you consider that the same-sized portion of Kobe in Japan itself would cost you $135, $54 sounds like a down-right bargain. And the smaller portions available thanks to purchasing by the ounce, mean you can go to just try it out for yourself without committing to an entire filet (you know you’re curious knowing that most of us have been lied to apparently).
Beyond the fabulous steaks, 212 offers some great dishes of the non-cow variety. From the prosciutto burrata – 18 month aged Prosciutto di Parma (would it be any other prosciutto considering the steaks?) with heirloom tomatoes and creamy burrata – to the grilled octopus that, although not for the squeamish (see: large suckers), is perfectly cooked to a delicious tender by Chef Alejandro and his team in the back of house.
I have to say I went recently and shared the Australian Wagyu with a friend on a recent visit. Yes, that’s right. I ordered the lowest rung of their fantastic beef and, you know what, it was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. Point being, that even with all this talk of their exclusivity on Kobe beef – that you should definitely try at some point just to try it – it should not be written-off as a gimmick by which to draw you in. This is just a damn good steakhouse.