There is a new winner and yes it is Kobe Beef in Kobe, Japan. It lives up to the hype, if you are in Kobe just try any of the better beef establishments in town. My personal list now reads as follows (in order, of course):
1. Kobe Beef, Kobe, Japan.
2. Dry-aged beef in Hermosillo, Mexico.
3. Southern Brazil, near Curitiba.
4. Lockhart, Texas, most of all the brisket at Smitty’s.
Maybe Argentina is next in line and it might place higher if I had consumed countryside barbecue there.
And yes, Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman are right: you should eat less beef. But Kobe is not the place to abstain. The reality is that eating beef in Kobe will make it very hard for you to eat beef almost anywhere else again.
“The best beef in the world?” Marginal Revolution, June 1, 2008
Update April 2012: See “Food’s Biggest Scam: The Great Kobe Beef Lie,” by Larry Olmsted, Forbes, April 12, 2012