Is Kobe Beef Really Better?

Amy Robach puts on a blindfold and judges a 5 burger alongside a 295 one.
3:00 | 11/16/12

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Transcript for Is Kobe Beef Really Better?
Now, people can talk forever about what makes the perfect burger. The question is, does what it cost really matter? Who wins the showdown between a fast food patty and the world's most expensive burger at 300 bucks? Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Here's amy robach. Reporter: Who doesn't love a night out at a fancy restaurant? The ambiance. The wine. The food. Or I will just suck on a napkin. Holy mama, look at these prices. Reporter: The bill. If your date night splurge is a tender juicy steak, watch out. For the price of one 16-ounce sirloin at a top steakhouse, you could buy about five from the supermarket. So before you hang up the oven mitts, is it worth it? Do you have an opinion about most restaurants? Good, bad? Oh, yeah. I have opinions about everything. Reporter: I kind of guessed that. I went to new york city icon, the old homestead steakhouse, with the connoisseur of good eats, lover of red meat, and host of "iron chef america," alton brown. That's a lot of red meat. And it's beautiful. I would expect to pay at least -- I don't know. I would imagine $60 there. Probably $100 for this guy. 80 to $90 right here. Reporter: How much meat in the united states looks like this? 1% to 2%. This is not meat you're ever, ever, ever going to see in a grocery store unless you've got connections much better than mine. Reporter: Like most of the food that makes it onto the dinner plate, the usda inspects beef and grades it as prime -- the top level -- then choice and then select. Cows are like people. We come in a lot of shapes and sizes. It's a beauty contest, and not everybody can be prime. God knows I've been told that enough. Reporter: In the bovine beauty contest, big is beautiful, so the finest beef is also the fattiest. See all that flecking of white, of fat. That's prime. Reporter: And that's what gives it its flavor. Well, that gives it its richness. The prime gets gobbled up by great steakhouses. Reporter: Like the old homestead, which has been in the beef business for so long, rumor has it abraham lincoln dined there. These top drawer steakhouses start out with prime beef and make it even better by storing it uncovered at low temperatures up to 45 days. Co-owner greg sherry says that dry-aging process is key. It's very important that the meat is dry. We want the moisture out of the meat. That concentrates the flavor. It's going to be a lot more expensive per pound, but it's going to have a flavor and texture that's unlike anything that you've ever had. Reporter: But it gets better. If there were a miss universe pageant for cattle, then the crown wouldn't even go to the usa. It would be awarded to japan. Because it's the best beef that money can buy. It's like having the greatest bottle of wine. It's like having the best car you can drive. There is no better than the wagyu beef. Reporter: Wagyu simply means japanese cow, known stateside as kobe. This holy grail of meat -- famous for its "melt-in-your-mouth" texture -- is up to 40% more fatty than usda prime. But kobe's true value comes down to the cattle's very specific and rare breed. Kobe beef, we've all heard that. I feel like I've seen that. Yeah. Reporter: On a menu. What you saw was a big fat lie. Reporter: In 2010 an outbreak of foot and mouth die in japan led to a prohibition of all japanese beef from entering the u.S. American cow breeders jumped on the opportunity to cash in on the kobe name. I could literally bring a japanese cow over here, cross-breed it with another cow and call it kobe or kobe style because there's nobody to stop me. Reporter: There's no usda standard on that? It's extraordinarily flexible. There just doesn't have to be a lot of kobe in a kobe, if you get my drift. Reporter: This past august the usda lifted the japanese beef ban. The real thing is back, but only some restaurants carry kobe, so before you open your wallet, ask if it's really japanese. There might be ten pieces of this in the country right now. I mean, I'm tempted to put this in my pocket and run for the door. Reporter: Alton might be on to something. The old homestead serves a 12-ounce authentic japanese kobe steak for $350. When you want the best, money is not an object. Reporter: It's a luxury reserved for fine dining. And restaurants have even added the japanese beef to something that was once so bourgeois -- the old-fashioned hamburger. One new york city restaurant, serendipity 3, is serving up le burger extravagant for $295. It holds the guinness record for the world's most expensive hamburger and includes exotic ingredients like quail egg, truffles and caviar. Alton challenged my own midwestern taste buds in a blindfolded taste test. My argument. Reporter: Yes. Is that the actual price of a burger and the ingredients of a burger does not define the satisfaction of a burger. What we have before you is four hamburgers and a cup full of live eels. No, sorry. Well, what we have here is five hamburgers. We have got a range from $5, which I have here, from the national chain -- Reporter: Okay. -- All the way up to a gourmet burger that is $300. Reporter: From the cheapest burgers -- I like it. And I have definitely tasted it many times in my life before. It's the special sauce. Reporter: Mm-hmm. Isn't it? Reporter: To the slightly larger burger -- all right. Show us your python skills. Pick. Oh, my god! Reporter: I like that. I like the flavors. They all worked well together. Now for something different. I taste truffles. Something very pungent. Here, give me the thing. Bleu cheese. Reporter: Oh, bleu cheese! And something heavy. Oh, my gosh. This weighs like as much as a small child. Well, guess what it's made of. I am kidding. Have your burger. Do you like that okay? Reporter: Mm-hmm. It's got a little -- a little bit of spice to it. I cast my ballot based on taste alone. So I think my favorites were number three and number five. This was basically an $8 burger. Reporter: Yeah. That was a $300 burger. Reporter: And I kinda felt like they tied. So while trendy menu items carry hefty price tags, be sure to know what you're getting. There is no direct correlation between the price and the burger experience. Reporter: Okay. american dish. Next, don't go empty-handed

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