We’re told to be light on our feet, so as not to frighten the young calves and their mothers. After all, any stress on the animals would be seen as a mark against the prized cattle, the product of three generations’ worth of dedication and craftsmanship. We shuffle around the expansive grounds, through shaded stables of stone and steel to sun-dappled pathways, our shoes sheathed by thick plastic bag-boots—a not very glamorous safeguard against contamination of the environment in which the herd is kept.
“Everybody has misconceptions about wagyu,” says Richard Ekkebus, culinary director of Amber restaurant at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental. “But as much as it’s important that the animals don’t get stressed, they don’t listen to opera music. They don’t get massages. They don’t drink beer.”