Tablet Magazine

The Rise of Kosher Wagyu Beef

Suddenly, kosher restaurants are serving the ultra-expensive meat. How did it catch on—and why did it take so long?

Among the charcuterie boards, plant-based dishes, and visually pleasing menu items that have recently come to dominate the experience at kosher restaurants, a new ingredient seems to now define these establishments: wagyu beef. This ultra-expensive meat comes from a specific breed of Japanese cattle. Highly marbled given the amount of fat it boasts, wagyu beef offers an almost butterlike bite corresponding to its low melting point. So unique is its flavor that it has been considered one of the most luxurious types of beef on menus in tref restaurants across America for years—but it is only now becoming popular in the kosher world as well, especially in markets like New York, Los Angeles, and Florida. In a way, the rise in acclaim and its trajectory were inevitable: It is the plight of the kosher industry to forever follow trends that have taken over the tref side of the business years before. “Generally speaking, I think the kosher market is five to 10 years behind the secular one,” said Jonah Chusid, the founder and owner of Chu’s Meat Market, a kosher butcher shop in New York that specializes in wagyu meat. According to a report by Technavio, the wagyu market overall is projected to grow by nearly $3.6 billion by 2027. And the kosher market is now following the same pattern: Chusid, who supplies many of the kosher restaurants now serving wagyu across the nation, says that Chu’s Meat Market alone is projecting a 160% growth in wagyu beef sales from 2021, the year the store opened, to 2024. This time lag isn’t just about trends taking a while to filter into the kosher world; wagyu’s adoption by kosher suppliers couldn’t have happened overnight even if they wanted it to. “I first noticed [the trend] about three years ago,” said Eliyahu Ebrani, who runs the kosher-restaurant-review Instagram account Kosherist. “It took a bit of time for it to really come along. Someone had to pioneer it since it’s not easy to raise a herd—it takes a long time.” “You have to make a three- to four-year investment of your time if you want to be able to sell a full-blood wagyu cut,” explained Chusid, noting that he also offers customers F1 wagyu, which is basically a crossbreed made of 50% wagyu and 50% Black Angus that is less expensive than its full-blood counterpart. ...

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This Week’s Recipe

Arayes with Israeli Pita

Arayes are essentially a kebab cooked inside a pita to create one delectable package. Read here for Eitan Bernath’s recipe for Arayes. And catch Bernath on this week’s episode of Unorthodox.

Explore all our recipes here.

Encyclopedia

dairy resturants

[ˈdɛ-ri-ˈrɛs-tə-ˌrɑnts] noun

Kosher eateries that serve anything that’s not fleishig (meat)—including vegetarian fare and fish dishes, everything from borscht to kasha v...

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Joan Knows Best

Everyone says their mom is the best cook, but when your mom is Joan Nathan, cooking looks a little bit different. Join Joan Nathan and her son, David Henry Gerson, for a video series covering Joan’s favorite Shabbat dinner recipes with a seasonal twist.

Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.

Perfect Pita

Joan Knows Best: The best way to make the ancient bread in your modern kitchen—thanks to a tip from chef Michael Solomonov

Shake Up Brunch With Shakshuka

Joan Knows Best: The best way to make this popular tomato-and-egg dish—with some help from Israeli chef Erez Komarovsky

The Pleasure of Pletzel

Joan Knows Best: The best way to make this Eastern European flatbread—with some advice from food writer and radio host Arthur Schwartz

Alon Shaya Expands to Las Vegas

With established restaurants in Louisiana and Denver, Chef Alon Shaya is now expanding to Nevada. Safta 1964 is the prequel to Chef Alon Shaya’s Michelin-recognized Safta restaurant (located in Denver). It debuts April 4 as a culinary residency at Wynn Las Vegas.

Read here for Tablet’s stories by, and about Chef Alon Shaya.

100 Foods and Beyond

Check out Tablet’s book The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List, and learn the stories behind iconic Jewish dishes. Argue with your friends about what we left out. And if you get hungry, we’ve included 60 recipes, too. And then there’s more...

Play the Jewish Foods Memory Game with your kids. Match up doubles of chicken soup, or borscht, or kreplach, and work up their appetite in the process.

Or try the 500-piece 100 Foods circular puzzle, and set the perfect table filled with your favorite Jewish foods.

Or check out this sticker book, featuring the tastiest items from 100 Most Jewish Foods. Put your favorite stickers on your laptop, your notebook, or your refrigerator.

You can buy all the merchandise, plus The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia, edited by the hosts of Tablet’s Unorthodox podcast, by clicking here.

A Plant-Based Quandary

Muslims, Jews, and Catholics wrestle with the religious implications of fake meat

PLNT Burger is a restaurant that offers plant-based alternatives to all-American favorites like burgers and shakes—all 100% kosher and halal. The first restaurant opened in Silver Spring, Maryland, 2019, and has expanded to 14 locations spanning from northern Virginia to Boston. The overarching philosophy, said co-founder Seth Goldman, is an effort to make food accessible to the widest possible cross section of people, regardless of their dietary choices—whether religious, medical, or ethical in nature. Despite some quibbles and caveats, for people of many faiths, plant-based meat and dairy substitutes complement their practices around food and diet by driving intentionality, to change the world by making what his wife and co-founder, Julie Farkas, calls “little changes, every day.” Veganism and vegetarianism are increasingly accepted by the American mainstream, whether it’s out of concern for the environment and animals, or for their own health, and people of various faith traditions with dietary restrictions are embracing the trend. While plant-based meat substitutes mean Jews, Muslims, and even some Christians might now enjoy a guilt-free cheeseburger or slice of (mushroom) bacon, there are those who see such alternatives as potentially problematic workarounds. Other religions have their sanctioned alternatives to off-limit substances—coffee substitutes for Latter-day Saints, capybara instead of fish on Fridays for Catholics in Latin America—but plant-based meat can present something of a different challenge for many religious traditions: What if it’s too close to the real thing? When Goldman and Farkas sat down with me at one of their New York City restaurants over a chocolate oat milkshake, they told me about the “very Jewish ethos” behind their vegan restaurant, where ethically sourced menu options bring vegans, eco-warriors, and rabbis together. And PLNT Burger definitely feels inclusive. Goldman and Farkas are greeted warmly by the staff when they arrive at the restaurant, but it’s almost possible to miss because the staff greets everyone warmly. Cheerful young men behind the counter coach me through the byzantine customization options as I place my order on the touch-screen menu (the ability to individualize is part of the founders’ philosophy of being all things to all people). I’m there at the tail end of the lunch rush, but their energy and enthusiasm don’t seem to have flagged. “We get people from all over,” I hear a server remark over the multilingual conversational din. “Yeah, no meat!” he responds to another customer inquiry. “Tastes just like the real thing!” ...

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A lot of Jewish food’s appeal, I have found, has more to do with fond memories of growing up than the food itself. Your early sensations are the ones that stay with you. You similarly always remember your first kiss. Technically speaking it probably wasn’t your best kiss, but it is the one that gave you the taste.

How do you hummus?

With the original recipe dating all the back to the 13th century, hummus has become quite possibly the most popular middle eastern dish of our time.

It’s been called a peacemaker, and has been the subject of lots of controversy. Whether it’s your entire meal, or a dip for your vegetables, there are so many opinions, and stories to share about our delectible dish.

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