Once only available in the halls of Japan’s parliament, you can now get this special gyuju nationwide.

There are a handful of beef bowl chains in Japan, but without question Yoshinoya is the people’s beef bowl. With the most locations, the most affordable prices, and the most traditional seasoning, Yoshinoya’s gyudon, as beef bowls are called in Japanese, are generally the ones people have in their head when they think of the dish.

So it might come as a surprise to find out that until recently Yoshinoya had a special beefy meal, made with domestically raised premium wagyu beef, that was exclusive to only one branch in the county: the one inside the National Diet Building, the Japanese parliament house in Tokyo. As of August 12, though, the Kuroge Wagyuju is available at all Yoshinoya locations in Japan, and our reporter Seiji Nakazawa quickly made his way to his local branch to try it for himself.

▼ The Kuroge Wagyuju is a gyuju, which denotes beef and rice served in a fancy rectangular or square dish, and not the bowl used for gyudon.

The reason Seiji landed this assignment was because he’s one of the lucky few who’d previously eaten Yoshinoya’s wagyu from the Diet Building branch, which he picked up there during a visit that we can neither confirm nor deny is related to his other job as a secret agent. In order to make a fair comparison and see if the for-civilians version is as good as the original, he also ordered the new Kuroge Wagyuju to-go, but felt uneasy as soon as he saw it.

While eat-in diners’ are served in a gyuju-specific square dish, the take-out version comes in a round bowl. He was also a little worried about the fact that t 1,290 yen (US$11.73) before tax, the Kuroge Wagyuju is slightly cheaper than the version sold at the Diet, wondering if maybe this was because of a drop in quality.

The contents looked extremely enticing, though. The Japanese Black wagyu is sliced thicker than what you get in a regular beef bowl and pan-grilled to order, seasoned with a special garlic ginger soy sauce glaze and crowned with a pinch of white onion.

Still feeling a bit of doubt, Seiji dug in with his chopsticks, raised a mouthful to his lips, and…

was transported to wagyu paradise! Unlike the extra-soft texture of the stewed beef used in regular beef bowls, the thicker-cut Japanese Black wagyu was a more substantial texture, but without any tough or stringy inconsistencies. As with most types of Japanese beef the flavor is rich from a higher fat content, but in an elegantly decadent way. And the seasoning, while enhanced and high-class, still has the recognizable Yoshinoya baseline.

Seiji felt sort of guilty for doubting the Kuroge Wagyuju, and it turns out the reason for the lower 1,290-yen price is two-fold. First, it’s a pun on how “1” and “29” can be read as “ii niku,” meaning “nice meat,” and second, according to Yoshinoya itself, the company simply wanted to “make the price a little lower so that everyone can enjoy this dish.”

At 1,290 yen it’s much more expensive than a standard Yoshinoya beef bowl, but still an affordable luxury. The only drawback is that the Kuroge Wagyuju is only going to be on the menu for a limited time, but for now, we’re happy to be able to eat like Japan’s most powerful politicians.

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