Interesting twist on New York City meat market

February 2, 2010 3:17:00 PM PST
When you hear meat market in New York City, you probably think of the club scene. But there are several butcher shops with unique looks that are serious about their meat. And these butchers take cutting meat to a whole new level. For one, it's about luxury. For the other, it's sort of a return to the earth.

Every morning, Japan Premium Beef's Eichii Yamamoto slides panels to the side, writes the name of the shop in chalk and gets butchering, slicing up washugu beef. The meat comes from the company's own cows, which are raised in Oregon, in a Japanese style similar to that process that produces waygu beef.

"The flavor is very strong beefy taste, and the fat is different than other beef," Daigo Irifune said.

Usually there's more unsaturated fat, and that's why people pay $69.99 a pound for the dry, aged porterhouse. And the butcher is dressed accordingly, in a tie. His shop even features a chandelier.

"We have to separate the washugu from other beef," he said. "We have to establish the brand name of washugu."

And they work hard to please their customers.

Across the river in Brooklyn, it's a back-to-basics/hipster sort of approach at the Meat Hook, opened by three friends who are serious about what they sell.

"We know the farmers, the slaughterhouses that we use, so we can trace everything through the process," butcher Brent Young said. "So the consumer knows."

All their meat comes from New York state. They make their own sausage and even hold butchering classes.

And the three guys who started the Meat Hook all say they never intended to become butchers, but they love it.

Japan Premium Beef is located at 57 Great Jones Street in NoHo. Call 212-260-BEEF for more information.

For more on the Meat Hook, visit