WHEN John Kilroy introduced Wagyu to the menu in the famed Cha Cha Char restaurant in Brisbane in the mid-1990s, he was flat out selling the highly marbled steaks.
“For the first six months we had it on the menu we had to virtually give it away. No one was interested,” Mr Kilroy said.
“It was new and was costing cost me hundreds of dollars a kilo wholesale. Of course we all thought it would eventually take off, but at the time people just weren’t willing.”
The difference now is people have come to know the incredible dining experience that Wagyu delivers.
Mr Kilroy said part of the problem was there had been some disappointing experiences with cheap steak that was being sold as Wagyu at some of the pubs around town.
“Also it just looked so different to the steaks people were used to eating,” Mr Kilroy said. “The level of marbling that Wagyu offered and the way it performed in the mouth wasn’t recognised for what it added the eating experience.”
Fast forward some 25 years to 2018 and the five star Brisbane riverfront restaurant now boasts a range of meals featuring Wagyu, including an incredibly popular $110 steak.
“The difference now is people have come to know the incredible dining experience that Wagyu delivers,” he said.
“This is meat that is filled with flavour, is juicy, and because of the marbling and the low melt temperature, it literally melts in your mouth.
“Combine that with an outstanding wine like Hill of Grace and it is a real experience that people recognise as a fine dining event.”
Mr Kilroy said in his experience, people who were looking for a five star experience were seldom worried by price.
“What they demand is quality, service and a location that matches the prices we are asking,” he said.
“Being in the CBD we have a lot of business people through our doors. If someone is celebrating a major success or looking to secure a big new contract, they absolutely want to best.”
Cha Cha Char production chef Urs Braumgartner said Wagyu was an impressive meat to work with, but did require careful handling.
“It is always about getting the most of the meat to create the best dining experience possible,” Mr Braumgartner said. “Our aim is to always get that right and keep our diners coming back.”