Antonio Park was the first (and probably still the only) Canada-based chef to get a Kobe beef license. However, it seems the menu at his restaurant, Park, has changed from offering Kobe beef to Miyazaki beef. What’s the difference? Both Kobe and Miyazaki beef are high-end, marbled Japanese beef, otherwise known as Wagyu. Each comes from different parts of Japan. Kobe is most famous to foreigners but apparently Miyazaki beef has won two Wagyu Olympics in a row and the Prime Minister’s award at the last three most recent Wagyu Olympics (but Kobe doesn’t participate in it).
Park is one of the most well known Japanese restaurants in Montreal. Antonio Park himself is not Japanese. He’s Korean and grew up in South America and trained as a sushi chef in Japan. He has a lot of different culinary influences. His restaurant is highly regarded and its prices reflect that pedigree. I didn’t get any sushi or sashimi which is something I’ll have to do the next time I go. The reason for this is because 2oz of Miyazaki beef costs $99 and that’s the appetizer. There is a main dish of 4oz Miyazaki beef which is $199. Granted, I read somewhere that Park makes pretty much no profit on Wagyu and he does this because he wants to educate eaters in Montreal about Wagyu. So these prices are not inflated or outrageous at least by Wagyu standards.
For my meal, I got the Miyazaki beef appetizer ($99) and chose the Park bowl ($19) as my main. This is the most expensive meal I’ve ever had to pay for myself. The last most expensive meal before this was when I went to Toqué!, a Montreal restaurant serving French haute-cuisine.
I only took one photo of the Miyazaki Wagyu because I didn’t want it to get cold before I ate it.
The lighting in the restaurant is pretty dim so I had to use the flash when taking this photo. That alters the colors but you can still see the large amount of marbling in the meat. Lots of whitish areas interspersed with the red meat. It was cooked tataki style although the inside is less raw than I would expect for this method. The meat was very tender. It had a nice outer crust. Eating this I think is somewhat similar to eating toro sashimi that’s been seared on the outside. The texture was like nothing I’ve ever had before and honestly it didn’t even feel like I was eating beef.
Taste-wise, I wasn’t as impressed. There wasn’t a strong beef flavor and honestly I couldn’t really describe how it tasted. It didn’t taste bad for sure and it didn’t taste plain. It’s hard to describe. The fat marbling is very noticeable and rich so definitely not something that one could eat a lot of in one sitting. In some way the greater fat content of the beef reminded me a bit of eating fatty pork belly but obviously it didn’t taste like pork.
As a comparison after my meal at Park restaurant, I went to Lafleur’s for a cheeseburger. I definitely didn’t feel full after my meal at Park.
For the cost of 2oz of Miyazaki beef at $99, I could’ve bought 15 cheeseburgers or 19 burgers at Lafleur. Conclusion? I would rather eat 2oz of Miyazaki beef over whatever amount of cheese burgers or burgers.
I don’t regret trying Miyazaki beef but I wouldn’t order it again any time soon. But if I ever got the chance to try wagyu somewhere else, I would still try it. In the end I’d rather spend $99 on sashimi & sushi than Miyazaki beef and I may do that in the future after my next pay cheque.
Bonus critique (well not really)
The Park bowl at Park restaurant is just a vegetarian dolsot bibimbap with egg and fried tofu. Lots of variety of veggies and well cooked. Tofu was nicely fried and the egg was soft and gooey, I guess it was done sous-vide. The Gochujang sauce was sweeter than I liked. It was good and in terms of quality of ingredients this was the best bibimbap I’ve had in Montreal but it wasn’t quite worth its price of $19 (considering there’s no meat) and not great enough to bare the restaurant’s name. Then again I think bibimbap is highly overrated in general. The rice at the bottom of the stone bowl didn’t get crisp, which I think defeats the purpose of using a stone bowl. However, most dolsot bibimbaps I’ve had in Montreal fail to achieve the crisp rice at the bottom.