Hisato Hamada, the co-founder and culinary mastermind behind Wagyumafia, Tokyo’s exclusive members-only Wagyu beef restaurants, will launch his first international branch in Hong Kong this fall. Located in Oi Kwan Road in Wan Chai, the restaurant will welcome up to 18 diners to experience an omakase menu specialising in Japan’s most renowned beef.
Japan’s top wagyu specialist to open exclusive 18-seat restaurant in Wan Chai
In 2016,Hamada partnered with internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie to launch Wagyumafia as a members-only dining and butcher’s club in Tokyo. Serving authentic Japanese-reared Wagyu sourced directly from farmers breeding champion Kobe and Tajima beef, the products are prized the world over for their unique fat-marbling and umami flavours. Wagyumafia’s unique culinary creations and high-profile collaborations with international chefs have attracted global attention. Embarking on a 50-city Wagyu world tour, Hamada hosted a series of pop-ups in such food capitals as Paris, London, Los Angeles, Singapore, New York, Manila and Hong Kong. With four restaurants in Tokyo, each specialising in a unique Wagyu culinary concept, Hamada has been on an international mission to educate consumers and the restaurant industry on the appropriate application of high-end Japanese Wagyu beef. Through his efforts, Hamada hopes diners and chefs will recognise the tireless efforts of Wagyu farmers to raise premium beef with practices dating back to ancient Japan.
The Hong Kong tasting menu will present pedigreed wagyu and Kobe beef sourced from select Japanese farmers. Aside from showcasing a broad range of cuts and cooking methods, from the traditional yakiniku and shabu shabu to more unconventional techniques, the menu will include Wagyumafia’s world-famous Cutlet Sandwich. Described in UK press as “singularly, the most complete sensory experience in food you can get,” the ingenious sandwich crosses haute cuisine with casual street food. Comprising an extravagantly thick, panko-fried Chateaubriand cut, it is set between lightly toasted Japanese milk bread and complemented with special house-made sauce.
“Wagyumafia seeks to buy only the top one per cent of Kobe beef,” says Hamada. “To ensure our premium quality standards are met, we source our products from the top 20 best farmers in Japan, including Muneharu Ozaki of Ozaki Beef, a pioneer in cattle farming who feeds his cattle organic ryegrass and natural mineral water. We also attend fortnightly cattle auctions and buy new-born calves so we can manage how they are raised. Our cows have maintained a pure lineage over the past 2,000 years because they are kept in an isolated area surrounded by mountains. Their purity is the biggest difference from other types of Wagyu.”
Reflecting this commitment, Wagyumafia recently won the bid for the First Prize Champion Tajima Kobe Steer at the 100th Anniversary Hyogo Prefecture Competitive Livestock Exhibition in Kobe City. For the last two years, Wagyumafia has won the Grand Prix Champion Kobe, earning a place in the 2016 Guinness World Records for the highest price ever paid for Kobe beef.
“The bid for the champion steer was strategic,” explains Hamada. “It’s a statement to encourage the wagyu market to buy more male bovines rather than the more prized female counterpart. It’s part of an effort to preserve the cow’s purpose to mother future generations of Tajima wagyu.”
Along with Wagyu beef, Wagyumafia’s changing menu will highlight key ingredients, such as tuna sourced from Tsukiji market’s famed ‘Tuna King’, Yukitaka Yamaguchi. Further elevating the culinary experience, all other ingredients, including rice, soy sauce and vinegar for shari have been meticulously sourced by Hamada from exceptional artisans around the world. As part of the Wagyumafia collaborative spirit, diners can look forward to an ongoing roster of visiting international chefs participating in a series of pop-up events.
Hong Kong’s Stanley KC has collaborated with Tokyo-based Kono Designs on the sleek, modern interiors of the Hong Kong outlet. With the intention of creating an “insider’s look” into the kitchen, guests will enter the restaurant via a walk-in fridge housing the prized beef, which leads to a counter-style seating encircling an open kitchen. The intimate setting focuses attention on the chefs to ensure diners appreciate the mastery and technical skills on display as well as the premium ingredients.
Wagyumafia will operate on a members-only policy in November and plans to extend reservations for the public soon after. Dinner will be available nightly by reservation through Tock reservations system. Membership opportunities will be available for those wishing to gain exclusive privileges including access to special pop up events in both Hong Kong and Tokyo locations.
Wagyumafia Hong Kong
Address: Shop 1B, Guardian House, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai