Kobe beef is not for beginners, or for dieters, either. It comes from a breed called Wagyu, and in the Kobe region of Japan these Wagyu cattle are fed, massaged and fed again -- rather like the sumo wrestlers of the bovine world -- and wind up so marbled with fat that the meat really does melt in your mouth. Most "Kobe" served in the United States is domestically grown Wagyu, and quite a bit comes from this region (from Sunnyside Farms, among others). Personally, I think it's wasted cooked past rare, and probably a little dab'd do you, so you don't have to get the premium versions; but if you really want to know where the beef is, here's to ya:

ELEVATION BURGER -- 442-C S. Washington St., Falls Church; 703-237-4343. Three-ounce burger, $2.29; six-ounce "double fat burger," $3.90.

OLD HOMESTEAD STEAK HOUSE -- 7501 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-2006. Twenty-ounce Kobe burger, $41.

POSTE MODERNE BRASSERIE -- 555 Eighth St. NW; 202-783-6060. Six-ounce Kobe tartare burger on house-made brioche with Maldon sea salt, $11.

SONOMA -- 223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 202-544-8088. Eight-ounce Kobe burger on rustic roll, $9.

SUNNYSIDE FARMS FAMOUS REST STOP -- Routes 211 and 522, Sperryville, Va.; 540-987-3600. Four-ounce Kobe burger, $5.75, eight-ounce burger, $7.50.

-- Eve Zibart

Tender Kobe beef can be found at several area restaurants.