You Want Real Wagyu Beef and Japanese Whiskey? Head to Wayzata

What's happening at Sushi Fix these days?

"Oh, just shaking up a lot of cocktails. It's pretty crazy," says Billy Tserenbat, chef/owner/cocktail shaker of Wayzata's finest sushi bar.

And he means whiskey cocktails, since the restaurant possesses the state's biggest Japanese whiskey collection. To go with them, some certified Japanese Wagyu beef.

See also: Best Sushi Minneapolis 2013 - Sushi Fix


"Everybody likes to say they have Wagyu, but nobody really has it." Except him, he says. [Burch Steak also serves imported Japanese Wagyu at $70 for four ounces. Still, it's tough to find around here.] He has a long-standing relationship with his "Miyazakigyu" beef supplier -- it's a trademark for the best in all of Japan.

It used to be that it was impossible to get the stuff in the the United States at all because of importation restrictions, but those were lifted in 2014.

Like Kobe, the brand name for Wagyu has been fetishized, co-opted, and bastardized.

But if you've ever travel to Japan, you will stand in awe of these heavily marbled, ruby slivers of beef, priced as extravagantly as a fine leather wallet and worth every dime. When you place it on your tongue, it just melts away like butter.

But what, exactly, is it? Really?

Terenbat explains that Wagyu is selected from the most prized bloodline of Japanese cattle, cattle brands that are already bred over many generations for their superior texture and the meat they produce -- with its sweet, mellow, and full aroma.

Once a calf is selected, it is individually handled, with each detail about it documented including date of birth and bloodline of the parents.

Then great care is taken to raise the calves in a stress-free environment, helping to keep the flesh tender. They graze on high-grade wheat and rice. Their shelters are cleaned out daily so they don't stand around in their own stench, as do too many American feedlot beef cattle.

They breathe fresh air and yes, he says, they do sometimes drink beer: "Due to hot weather cows tend to not eat and [some farmers] give beer to make them relax. So they can eat a little more and be peaceful."

So depending on the quality of your own life, it might be fun to come back as a Wagyu calf. Until, ya know.

The lore around this stuff is fascinating, including, says Tserenbat, that in Japan it's traditional to present the national champion Sumo wrestler with one Miyazaki cow. Those dudes can eat a lot, after all.

Is it expensive? Yes, of course it is, but he's trying to keep prices as fair as possible so that more people can try it. A "two-way cooking Tataki" (one preparation quickly seared and the other cooked all the way through and served with rice) is $79 at Sushi Fix.

And of course you're not going to be eating this with any old swill. So before you go reaching for the Johnnie Walker, know that they're making whiskey in Japan, too.

Of course they are.

"Japanese will do anything for pride," says Tserenbat, and embarks on an age-old story:

Japanese guy is born and raised into a sake brewing business, but he goes on a little voyage to Scotland and the beverages and the women steal his heart. He marries there, and the fair maiden's daddy just happens to be the proud owner of a Scotch whisky distillery.

Who knows if its true? Who cares?

The gentleman, Masataka Taketsuru, then goes on to carry all of his accumulated Scottish trade wisdom back to Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan, a far-flung western port city with a climate close to that of Scotland. This was way back in 1934, and Nikka Whiskey distillery stands there today. The drink is described as peaty with masculine malt.

According to their website: "The pot stills are heated with finely powdered natural coal -- the traditional method that is hardly ever used today, even in Scotland." The Japanese will do anything for pride.

Want some? You know what to do.

Dinner only: Sunday through Thursday 4:30 - 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday 4:30 - 10 p.m.

Send your story tips to Hot Dish.