Los Angeles, CA

Wagyu Japanese BBQ in Los Angeles - Tama En

Dinh Lee

Tama En is a high-end Japanese barbeque restaurant with two locations in the Los Angeles and Orange County area, one being in Lomita, California, and the other in Gardena, California. Tama En is a do-it-yourself Japanese barbeque grill that specializes in its high-quality Japanese beef, also known as wagyu. At the restaurant, you are presented with a charcoal grill on the table in which you would grill the meat you order to your own liking, whether you like it more rare or more well-done, you can cook it however you would like.

For those who are unfamiliar with wagyu, wagyu is a type of beef that originated from Japan and is shipped with the names of the areas that they come from. For example, a very well-known type of wagyu beef would be Kobe beef which originates and is shipped from Kobe, Japan. What makes wagyu beef special is its increased fat percentage due to the cattle being raised with less grazing and more feeding, thus resulting in much fattier cattle. Wagyu is considered one of the most luxurious and sought-after delicacies out there and is often classified along with caviar and black truffle.

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So why is wagyu considered to be so luxurious and high in price? The reason lies in the amount of care and effort that is required to raise these cattle in the perfect condition to create such fatty and umami-rich meat that quite literally melts in your mouth. Cattle-breeders go to extreme lengths to ensure that the cattle are raised in the absolute best and most stress-free conditions. Stress is the number one thing they focus on because stress causes cortisol to be released which is a major factor in the quality of the beef. Cattle-breeders try their best to manage volume levels to prevent stress and are constantly watching over them and making sure they always have clean and fresh water. Each cow is carefully monitored and rarely leave the sight of cattle-breeders.

Now back to Tama En. Although the wagyu here is not straight from Japan, as Japan generally does not ship their wagyu to other countries. The wagyu here is considered American wagyu which is not pure-bred like the Japanese wagyu, but instead a mix of wagyu cattle and angus cattle. Although there are differences, and American wagyu does not quite compare to Japanese wagyu in quality and flavor, American wagyu is still a major luxury and an amazing experience to be able to enjoy in America.

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The beef I had at Tama En was simply unlike any other type of beef or meat that I've ever had. You always hear people say that something "melts in your mouth" and I've had similar experiences that I would describe as that throughout my life, but this time it was different. I can easily say that this type of "melt in your mouth" is different from all other types I've had and it is so much butterier, smoother, and more satisfying. Even though we cooked the meat ourselves, it was still absolutely perfect and I am convinced that you cannot ruin wagyu because the taste and texture will still be amazing even if you butcher it. Of course, I would recommend watching the heat so it doesn't burn.

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On top of the meat quality, which I had high expectations for to begin with, given the price point. Their presentation was just immaculate and on a different level. If you are planning to give them a try, I highly recommend ordering one of their Mt. Fuji Premiums where the different types of meats are served on a staircase that is absolutely jaw-dropping and makes an amazing photo opportunity. When I went, I ordered their American Wagyu Set under their Mr. Fuji Premiums and I have to say this is probably one of the best options they have because of all the different types of meats that it comes with, including the wagyu we are all looking for. The American Wagyu Set comes with A5 Japanese wagyu ribeye, limited cube cut ribeye, high quality outside skirt, high quality short rib, high quality ribeye, high quality salted tongue, and beef sushi. I love the variety in this set and honestly, everything was amazing and had such great flavor and texture, but the wagyu was definitely another level and a must-try for sure. The beef tongue was also quite unique and I really enjoyed the texture of it as it was a little more crisp and helped changed things up a bit.

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We also tried their A5 dry aged wagyu which is wagyu that was stored away and has been aging for a while. This was extremely unique and the flavor was quite different from the regular wagyu, I felt that it had more depth to it and the texture was also very different. I personally liked the regular wagyu's texture more as it was more buttery and smooth, but both flavors were amazing in their own way.

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If you're looking for the perfect place to try wagyu beef, I would definitely recommend Tama En for their quality and presentation, but make sure you're ready to drop some money!

Follow my Instagram @sanfoodiego for more food-related content!

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Join me on my quest to eat at all the best restaurants in town and around the world! Follow me on Instagram @sanfoodiego for more food recs.

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