Boucherie just keeps the hits coming! Even in the face of a global pandemic, these guys opened up shop in spectacular fashion. While the menu is similar to their village locations, this joint offers Chef Dom’s incredible prime rib.
Nice and thick – 9/10!
We also took down their pork and veal chops, both of which were stunning and delicious – 10/10.
What really stands out to me about this place is the decor. The joint is situated on 6 1/2 Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets in midtown. The restaurant spans the entire length of the atrium, with high glass ceilings overhead.
It’s a beautiful place to eat, and much of it is technically outdoors. The Christmas season is very special here, with their massive tree in place.
The floors are heated, so you’ll actually feel warm even when sitting outside.
Like their other locations, they still have a nice meat/charcuterie area, stocked with legs of prosciutto and even dry aged steaks.
All of their classics are well represented, like escargots and absinthe cocktails.
We especially liked their seafood apps like the shellfish tower (the raw bar here is incredible – almost as big as their regular bar), the smoked salmon, and the whipped cod and potatoes.
And the broiled lobster? INSANE!
Since everything is pretty much the same aside from the prime rib and a few other menu items, I’ve decided to piggyback this review off of my reviews of their other locations in the West Village and Union Square. Definitely get over here ASAP and give it a shot.
Overall Score: 95
LA GRANDE BOUCHERIE
145 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019
Inevitably, when discussing steaks, I am often asked what my favorite steak or steakhouse is. This is a very complicated answer for someone like me. For example, and by way of analogy, most movie buffs don’t have a single favorite movie. They might have a handful of favorites from each genre, though. Favorite horror (The Shining); Favorite Sci-Fi (12 Monkeys); Favorite Comedy (Trading Places); etc. That’s how I view steaks and steakhouses. So when I’m asked, I always tell people that it depends on the cut. So here we go:
I often consider the rib eye to be the true steak eater’s steak. Bovine bliss. So here are my favorite rib eyes, in order:
This bad boy is only offered on the first Wednesday of every month, and they only get about seven of them, so you have to call ahead to reserve yours. Well worth the effort, and it comes with sides and apps if I recall correctly.
As my buddy Tappi recommended to me, so shall I recommend to you: Get the “English Cut” prime rib here, if you’re lucky enough to score a table in the first place. The other versions are great as well though.
Also, any steak or chop this place has on special is work ordering, whether it is a bone in tenderloin or a porterhouse.
I’ve really come around on this place. At first I was a hater, but now I’m a huge fan. And there’s just something about this classically served prime rib that I can’t get enough of. Dining at The Grill is special, but eating the prime rib there is decadent.
For the manly appetite, this is the place to go. This massive dry-aged, beautifully roasted chunk of beef is probably big enough to share. If you order like I do, you’ll share the mutton as an appetizer and then share this as your entree.
Ahh, the porterhouse. So many places do it well. But there are two that really stand out to me:
Chef Lomonaco does the name Porter House proud with his delicious porterhouse. It always packs a punch of dry-aged goodness.
NEW YORK STRIP STEAK
I don’t order strips as often as I should. My typical game plan at a steakhouse is to share the rib eye as an appetizer, and then share the porterhouse as the main course. And since the porterhouse includes a strip in it, I’m sort of covered. But these two places offer some great stand-alone strips that are worthy of your time.
Time for an updated pic! As their double-entendre restaurant name might suggest, Strip House serves a really good strip. It just wouldn’t be cool if they didn’t. Smear some of the roasted garlic across the always perfectly cooked and beautifully crusted beef, and you’re in heaven.
Transport yourself to the lavish days of Wall Street power meals at the newly re-vamped Harry’s, and treat yourself to their delicious strip. It is classically grilled and mildly dry-aged, but a perfect pink throughout. This meal is just as much about the ambiance as it is about the flavor.
Since I don’t have a vagina, I almost never order a filet unless I’m having a light lunch. That’s not to knock the filet mignon by any means. I just prefer it attached to a porterhouse instead of by its lonesome. But here are a couple of my favorites:
They say it’s for four, but you can definitely take it down with two people. You have to call ahead and ask for this beauty. Similar to the Bowery Steak above, only large format and roasted, served family style. When you call ahead, request that they serve their Pommes Anna to go with it. You will thank me.
Our first dinner in New Orleans during our 2019/2020 New Year trip was here at Rib Room. I was dying to try some prime rib from here ever since I passed by it on the street two years ago. Here’s how it went down.
I had the king cut prime rib, which is a gorgeous tomahawk chop that’s roasted to perfection. The cap was delicious, and the eye was cooked evenly throughout, without getting too monotonous in terms of flavors and textures.
This baby came with a hard, pipe-hittin’ horseradish sauce that will known your brain out of your skull if you’re not too careful with how you apply it to your steak. I love that kick! But beware.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
There’s a good selection of cuts here, even beyond the standard prime rib sizes that you expect to find at a place that specializes in prime rib. They also served grilled rib eyes, strips, filets, etc. Everything is sourced from local producers and purveyors, but I didn’t detect too much dry-aged flavors coming through.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
The portions here are big, and you get a lot for your money on everything from the apps all the way through the entrees.
At $45 for the king cut of prime rib, which comes with a side and a salad, you really can’t go wrong. Coming from NYC it was a nice, refreshing reveal when the bill came.
The bar here is nice. We hung out for a bit before being seated and enjoyed the beautiful hotel-lobby environs (Omni Royal). The martini I had was a bit too sweet though.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
In addition to an extensive list of chops and roasts, they also offer specials here as well. My wife had the prime rib “manager’s special,” which is a princess cut of prime rib that gets grilled on the sides after roasting. Here is a before and after:
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7
We tried a few things as starters. Let me get right into them.
Lamb Pastrami Grilled Cheese:
This sounded better than it tasted. I had high hopes, but it came out a bit cold, and not too pastrami-flavored at all.
The cast iron baked cheesy oysters were pretty fantastic. Very unique.
The frog legs were massive, and breaded very nicely – fried to a golden, crunchy crisp.
The baked potato and salad came with the prime rib. Both were basic but good.
We skipped dessert and opted for some late night beignets at Cafe du Monde instead.
Seafood Selection: 7
There’s standard steakhouse seafood fare here. I didn’t try any so can’t really rate it.
Service here was good. Our waiter Richenel was really nice, attentive, and made good suggestions. However the restaurant messed up my wife’s order a bit (they brought her out a princess cut of prime rib instead of the manager’s special – firing it on the sides meant it was a bit overcooked from how she ordered). As a result, her steak wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Another thing to note here, they don’t have a prime rib cart service here like at Lawry’s or House of Prime Rib. They have something a bit different: a central carving station on the side of the dining room where you can watch the meat master work if you’d like. I dig it.
This place is gorgeous inside. The hotel spared no expense in decking this place out. High ceilings, dark woods, fancy music.
Chuck buys mostly fresh beef, which he ages himself in-house to a minimum of 42 days in most cases. However he loves the flavor of dry-aged beef, especially in the 80-120 day range; he even experiments with really old stuff. For example, when I first met Chuck at Maxwell’s Chophouse, he served me a 500 day dry-aged strip.
This time he served me a 365 day dry-aged strip.
But before I get sidetracked with all of that delicious, mad-scientist shit, let me get right down to the meal from front to back.
The night began with a dry-aged martini. Grey Goose vodka gets infused with 60 day dry-aged beef fat and rosemary. It gets mixed with a little vermouth and simple syrup before being garnished with a rosemary-skewered trio of blue-cheese stuffed castelvetrano olives. Sweet. Savory. Delicious.
While we are on the subject of drinks, the main bar here is beautiful and impressive. Easily a place you’d want to hang at after a rough day at work or even to hit up for some bar grub, like this kickass dry-aged burger.
The grind comes from Debragga since Strassburger doesn’t supply dry aged ground beef at the moment. The burger had a nice funk, was well seasoned and was perfectly cooked.
Okay so back to the rest of the meal…
We started with the house-made bacon and beef fat table bread, which was served with creamy, soft, herb butter.
Everything here is house-made, in fact, from the bread to the bread pudding, from the signature sauces (soon to be bottled and sold) to the signature sides. Even the microgreens are grown by Chef Chuck at his Colorado ranch, Skeleton Ridge Farms.
The first course was a 60 day dry-aged steak tataki sushi roll that was lightly fried. This was fucking amazing and crazy creative.
On deck: even more creativity and deliciousness. Chuck cranked this out of the park. This not your ordinary bone marrow:
The marrow gets roasted, folded with blue cheese to create a mousse, piped back into the marrow bone, and then brulee’d for the finish. A squeeze of charred lemon really cuts the fat with brightness, creating a beautiful and delicate balance. A taste of this will send shock waves through your tastebuds. This is a top dish of the year for me. It’s off menu though, so make sure you tell them I sent you when you ask for it – it’s different from the regular marrow on the menu.
We had a light palate cleanse with this small, refreshing salad, composed mostly of Chuck’s micro greens.
Then we had a Spanish style braised and grilled octopus dish that was garnished with potato, chickpea puree, tomato, pickled onion and greens. Tender and delicious.
The main event for the table was a huge spread of the major beef cuts. We had (counter-clockwise from the bottom right) a 60 day dry-aged porterhouse, a 60 day dry-aged tomahawk rib eye, a 40 day dry-aged bone-in tenderloin, and the 365 day dry-aged strip steak.
Here’s a closer look at that year-long aged steak.
After all the fat and bark was trimmed away from that hunk I showed you up at the top of the review, this was all that was left:
Now you understand why dry-aged steaks cost more. So much is lost in the process! The result is a somewhat vaporous and aromatic punch in the mouth that leaves you with the familiar flavors of mushrooms, truffles, aged cheese, and nuts. Just a few ounces will do fine for this, as it can more readily be identified with a cured product like bresaola or salami than a traditional steak. I like to call it “beef jet fuel,” since it almost tickles the back of your nose – like when you catch a whiff of gasoline, or take on a big blob of wasabi.
The steaks were all awesome. Every one of them was a winner, and you can really taste the care that Chuck puts into the aging process. And Chuck’s sauces really helped to elevate them.
These aren’t your average steakhouse sauces. Chuck’s chimichurri, his vinegar based steak sauce (fuck tomato based sauces), and his horseradish cream are all recipes he developed over decades in the business, from way back when he was 15yrs old and working two blocks from home in his local neighborhood fine dining restaurant, Commander’s Palace. Hell of a place to start. Hell of a place to earn your stripes.
It should be no surprise, then, that he came up with an absolutely killer sauce made from luxardo cherries, rendered trim, drippings and reduced bone broth. This is a sauce that I might expect from an extremely high end meat-centric place like The Grill or TAK Room, to accompany a roasted prime rib or a decadent Wellington.
Insane depth of flavor in that shit. Pure gold. I would drink it.
On the side we had a nice array of creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, lobster mac & cheese, and Brussels sprouts with bacon.
And of course dessert was a blowout with key lime pie, fried cookie dough with ice cream, bread pudding, chocolate lava cake, cheese cake and creme brulee.
What a great spot. Spacious, beautifully decorated, sleek, and with top notch service and attention to detail. The place even does double duty as an event space next door for corporate events, weddings, etc.
Please don’t be dissuaded by the fact that this place is in Jersey. The PATH train to Grove Street or Exchange Place is so fast from either midtown or downtown Manhattan. And Liberty Prime is just a short five minute walk from either station in Jersey City.
I’m going to need to go back there and try some more of Chuck’s amazing cooking. I hope you get over there too!
NYC has entered the era of Catch Steak, a sleek, trendy and sexy steak joint that has some real chops. Chef Michael Vignola, formerly at Strip House and Pomona, proves once again that he is an indispensable asset to the NYC culinary scene. And Catch Steak might be his opus.
The menu that he’s meticulously crafted is filled with both wild feats of cookery and traditional, no nonsense dishes. He exhibits both flare and restraint; fancifulness and humbleness; complexity and simplicity.
He boldly forgoes all other meat protein entrees and focuses solely on beef, save for fish and a plant-based meatless parm dish. There is no chicken. There is no lamb. There is no duck. Beef is the star of the show.
The beef selections are broken down into four sections: Japanese imports; domestic prime; dry-aged beef; and domestic Wagyu cross bred beef.
At first glance, the steak sizes may seem small and pricey. The largest steaks are 24oz porterhouses, and the average size of the cuts range from about 5oz-12oz. But there’s absolutely no waste on these cuts: no “vein steaks” with connective tissue; no gristle. Everything is high end, and trimmed to Michael’s meticulous specifications. Top quality and lack of waste means good value, so the initial sticker shock should be tempered in the mind of the savvy diner.
He sources the beef from many purveyors, but none of them hail from the usual suspects that you might know from the area. If you ask him who supplies the beef, he’ll tell you, “It depends on the cut.”
He spent months vetting each cut from various purveyors all over the country and all over the world. He spent months getting certifications to serve things like true A5 Kobe – with Catch Steak being one of just 11 places in the country that are permitted to serve it.
But the menu doesn’t stop at just one or two cuts from each section. There’s a full range of beefy selections within each, such that any one section would contain enough diversity to satisfy discerning meat connoisseurs dining at any great steakhouse. Catch Steak goes way beyond.
To put it briefly, there are almost 20 steak choices on the menu. My wife and I tried five of them.
First was a duo of imported Japanese selections. Snow beef strip steak, and true A5 Kobe deckle. The Japanese imports are all sold by the ounce, and as such they make great starters for the table to taste and share.
These are treated very simply and grilled on a beautiful hot stone platter that’s been freshly slicked with beef fat. Add fresh flake salt, pepper and garlic ponzu to your liking after it cooks, on your plate.
These were incredible. Both 10/10, but the Kobe deckle was the winner between the two. Both had a naturally buttery aroma from that marbling, which begins to render at room temperature. The deckle had a slightly more tender texture and beefy flavor.
Next was a 5oz soy caramel glazed domestic wagyu strip steak. A truly unique flavor bomb that is unmistakably Michael Vignola. The earthy and savory glaze paired perfectly with the natural sweetness of the meat. 10/10.
My favorite cut of the meal was this 6oz dry-aged deckle.
The peppery maillard crust gave it a great classic steakhouse texture, while the dry aging concentrated the beefy flavors into a walloping punch of “umami.” That aging also succeeded in transforming the most tender portion of the animal into an even more unctuous steak eating experience in this perfectly cooked steak. This was an easy 10/10, and it’s one of my top steaks of the year.
Our final beef selection was a prime porterhouse. This beauty is classic steakhouse fare, where the peppery crust serves as a counterbalance to the soft meat texture within.
While this was closer to medium than medium rare, it still held a ton of flavor and richness. Both sides were very tender, to the point where it would be difficult for the untrained palate to discern strip from tenderloin. The meat was a bit over-salted, but I chalk that up to new restaurant jitters. All of the other cuts were perfectly seasoned. 8/10.
I don’t know how we did it, but we tried a lot more of the ambitious Catch Steak menu.
We started with the roasted peppers appetizer, which is drizzled with 25yr old balsamic, sprinkled with crumbled pistachio, and topped with a dollop of pistachio cream. This was delicious, but I think it could be served with some thin slices of toasted country bread to knock back the concentrated natural salinity of the peppers.
The truffle toro sashimi is absolutely incredible. If toro is your thing, this is definitely a must-order.
Papa’s spicy clams are special. This is a traditional baked clams oreganata dish, but Michael has deftly incorporated spicy nduja into the stuffing, officiating the beautiful marriage between pork and shellfish with his own distinct signature on the nuptial papers. This dish is all him, and it’s killer. If you don’t know Michael’s cooking you’ll know it when you taste this.
On the side we went with three items. The first was actually listed as an appetizer, but we ordered it as an accompaniment to our steak: the potato churro.
This dish will become iconic. The potato is fried into a churro form, filled with sour cream, and then topped with caviar. What an amazing creation. A top dish of the year for sure.
The roasted maitake mushrooms dish is the perfect side to go with your Japanese beef selections. But if you’re like me, you can eat them all day, every day, on the side of whatever is around. I loved these.
Asparagus is a tough veggie to make unique. Here, Vignola has transformed them into a delicious and familiar menu item that many of us enjoy on a weekly basis when we get Chinese take-out: they tasted like sauteed string beans with garlic and almonds! In no way is that meant to be an insult or a triviality. I devoured these!
Dessert aficionados will flip their lid for this Snickers Baked Alaska. It’s large enough to share among four people, especially after going deep into beef for your mains. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s sweet.
This apple cobbler crumble is a house favorite. Inside the pecan strudel there’s a toffee flavored blondie, baked apple and creme fraiche ice cream. Awesome.
Just as impressive as the food menu is the cocktail menu. Mix master Lucas Robinson has curated one of the best cocktail programs around. We tried five drinks from the bar menu and one from the dessert menu. Here they are:
Cafe Disco: Start with this unique take on a negroni, made with cold brew coffee, gin, green chartreuse and campari.
Black & Bleu: This is a savory and earthy mix of miso-infused vodka, dry vermouth, white soy truffle and blue cheese stuffed olives. Very cool frozen copper martini glass too.
Cuffing Season: Wet your taste buds with this stiff pork rind-garnished cocktail, made with fat washed scotch, aperol and amaro. The pork rind is actually pretty friggin’ delicious.
The Glass Slipper: This spicy number is made with rye, Ancho Reyes, benedictine, sherry and absinthe. The rim is cajun salt. My kind of drink!
Up In Smoke: This delicious smoked cocktail is made with rye, yellow chartreuse, dry vermouth and mole bitters. It comes out to the table presented inside a smoke-filled glass lantern box. A delight for the senses with an earthy bottom end from the mole bitters.
Proper Irish Coffee: Lucas’ take on the classic is made with Proper 12 Irish whiskey (of Conor McGregor fame), Colombian coffee, creme de cacao, Ancho Reyes and vanilla salted cream. This hot drink is strong as fuck! A nice balance with those sweet desserts.
The bar area is awesome. Big, spacious, warm and comfortable, yet cool and sleek. I will hang out here and sip those amazing cocktails as often as possible.
The remainder of the space is massive and incredibly well designed. There are two large dining rooms and an upstairs. It has to be one of the biggest restaurants in the city. They spared absolutely no expense in building this place out. Every fixture, every wall, every table is stunning.
That about does it. I’ll be back here for sure. I need to work my way through some more of those amazing cuts of beef. I highly recommend you do the same.
I’ve been holding off on talking about Kow Cattle Company for a bit, hoping to visit the farm and facilities out in Iowa first, but I’ve been privileged to eat so much of it in the past year that I just couldn’t hold back anymore – especially after the beef binge I just had with their product at Nobu 57.
Kow Cattle Company is a small producer of highly marbled, domestically raised wagyu full blood and purebred animals in Iowa. They’re consistently raising cattle that grade out at super high prime, with BMS scores of 8 or higher.
They made a big splash in the NYC meat scene and made some great connections both in the restaurant world and in the influencer world.
Some noteworthy folks who are featuring their product fairly regularly: BLT Steak, Delmonico’s, The Grill, The James Beard House, The Gotham Burger Social Club, Bistrot Leo, Boucherie, and, of course Nobu 57 (and more as well).
One of the owners of the company, Jon Urbana, who has since become a good friend of mine, sent me home with a beautiful strip steak to cook up:
Later, I banged out a tomahawk at home as well. Absolutely stunning.
The high quality, and more importantly the consistency of that quality, is pretty much untouched by any domestic producer of wagyu beef here in the states. I’d love to get some of it into my shop, but they’re currently only shipping direct from their site. Believe me, a LOT of distributors are trying to get their paws on this stuff right now. I’m not alone.
In any case, seeing that Nobu 57 is one of Kow’s purveyors here in NYC, Jon brought me there to try some of the new lot of striploin that they have.
What occurred was nothing less than a Kow Cattle Company strip loin omakase for the ages.
This preparation is thinly sliced, torched and sauced with ponzu and some sesame, rare to raw. Simple and delicious.
Beef nigiri sushi. This had a quick sear on the edges, rare to raw.
Tataki. One of my favorites. Thin sliced after being seared on the edges, rare to raw, and then lightly dressed and garnished with some ginger and shiso.
This was my favorite. This was seared on the edges as well, rare to raw, but sliced a bit thicker and garnished with a black garlic sauce and some micro sprouts. Incredible.
This was similar to sukiyaki, a saucy stew with onions and greens. Really tasty, and it demonstrates that even when cooked through, this stuff is tender and savory.
Classic steakhouse fare here: seared and sliced, rare to medium rare, served with a garlic miso butter on a bed of grilled asparagus. Perfection.
Foie gras and wagyu beef potsticker dumplings. So decadent, and they ate almost like soup dumplings with that burst of liquified foie and wagyu renderings.
I think that covers it. When you go to Nobu 57, you’ll find Kow on the “washu” side of the menu. Ask about some of the preparations you saw here, because they’re not always on the menu. If you know about them, they may accomodate you if they have the ability. Some stuff is limited availablility, so go early and go often.
After having a discussion with some food pals about beef marbling scores for Japanese beef, I realized that there’s a lot of confusion surrounding the subject. As such, I figured it was time for a more detailed article about this shit. Here goes…
There are three things to understand when it comes to marbling scores:
In many ways quality and marbling overlap each other, since it usually follows that highly marbled beef is also high quality beef. But lets break it down here one at a time.
(1) The A-B-C’s of Yield
I like to think of this as the quantity component, as opposed to quality. A yield rating is a percentage figure that objectively describes the cutability of an animal, or the amount of the animal that can be harvested from a particular area of the carcass.
In particular, this score is determined by carefully measuring shit once a cut is made between the 6th and 7th rib, on the rib eye. The score is assigned after plugging four measurements taken at that cut into a “multiple regression equation.”
The four measurements are: rib eye area; rib thickness; cold left side weight; and subcutaneous fat thickness.
Raters score wagyu as either A, B or C in Japan. A has the highest yield, at 72% or more. B is 69-71%, and this is the most common yield. C is under 69%.
From a business and sales standpoint, it’s better to have higher yields on your animal. So A is better than C in many ways on that angle. For example, a carcass can get knocked down from A to B if the band of outer fat (not the marbling) is too thick, because it lowers the cutability yield (makes the actual rib eye meat smaller). Farmers and ranchers who raise the animals will want to select and breed for good yield traits.
From a consumer’s or diner’s standpoint, however, the yield isn’t, or shouldn’t really be, much of a concern. While a rating of A, B or C makes us instinctively think A is better than C, that would kinda be wrong in this case.
The C grade really just means that, before the meat got to our plate, more of the extrenal fat had to be trimmed away, the rib eye was small, or there was less of that particular cut of meat to harvest from the animal. Or something like that…
Quality grades describe the meat’s marbling, color, brightness, firmness and texture. It also describes fat quality, color and luster. This score is assigned as a value of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest quality and 5 being the highest. A lot of detailed analysis goes into this score.
As you can see, marbling, meat color and brightness, meat firmness and texture, and fat quality, color and luster are all evaluated on separate scales before being plugged into the overall quality score of 1-5. Pretty intense.
Some of the measurements are now starting to be done with cameras and digital image analysis software (like in the US), to more objectively determine the quality scores.
(3) Beef Marbling Standard (BMS)
The beef marbling stardard assigns a score to the meat based on how much intramuscular fat (IMF, or marbling) it has. It is scored from 1-12, with 1 being the least marbling and 12 being the most. Here is what that looks like:
There is definitely some interplay and overlap here with the quality score, as marbling is a factor one must consider when assigning a quality score of 1-5 up above. But the BMS score is much a more specific look at the intramuscular fat. Here is the relationship between quality and BMS:
As you can see, a score of 5 covers a wide range when it comes to the BMS scale. BMS 8 is very different from BMS 12, yet they are both a 5 for quality.
You may be thinking, why the redundancy? Well, as I mentioned in the previous section, the quality also takes meat color, fat color, texture and other variables into account. BMS, again, is purely about the marbling.
Basically the best quality available is A5 BMS 12. The A means that there was very little junk on the animal, and it had a good-sized rib eye. The 5 means it’s the best when assessing all the variables relevant to quality, like color, texture and fat. And the 12 means that it has the most marbling.
But I wouldn’t shy away from B5 or C5 BMS 12 either. Remember the letter grade is more about quantity, at least it seems so to me, anyway. Actually, my sweet spot seems to be around BMS 8 or 9. Anything more than that is like foie gras. It tastes like a completely different protein.
So it happened… I got my hands on some real-deal Japanese Kobe beef! These are strip loin / New York strip steak cuts, to be precise. Click HERE for the product page in the shop.
I had my guys portion these out so that they’re not too insane on the wallet. Jump on them now and you can get 8oz for $100 (down from $125). Not too bad for the rarity of this beef.
I feel like a half pound is the perfect size for this (you can share with another person, too; 4oz each). Why such a small portion? Because it eats more like foie gras than beef. It’s so tender, so uniform in texture, so juicy, and so rich with delicious, melt-in-your-mouth fat, that you may want a reprieve after a few ounces.
You may want to mix up the textures with another cut. If that’s the case, my suggestion is this: grab one of these, one domestic wagyu strip, and one dry-aged prime porterhouse. Have yourself a taste-off and see which you like the best.
Hida is a region in Japan, located in the northern part of Gifu prefecture on Honshu island. That’s west of Tokyo, but not quite as far as Kyoto or Osaka. While I’ve never been there, I can tell it’s a place that I’d definitely want to visit.
Hida is known for it’s outstanding beef (Hida-gyu), which is derived from a black-haired Japanese breed of cattle. Laws are such that, to quality as the Hida brand, the cattle has to have been raised in Gifu prefecture for at least 14 months. The beef is characterized by intense, beautiful, web-like marbling with a buttery, smooth texture that melts in your mouth. The flavor is both rich and delicate at the same time. It can be likened to the top percentiles of wagyu beef, rivaling kobe and matsusaka in quality, with marbling grades of A/B 3, 4, and 5.
I was invited to a Hida beef tasting event at EN Japanese Brasserie, one of the seven restaurants in the area that will be serving Hida beef on their menus. The other six are Brushstroke, Hakubai, Hasaki, Sakagura, Shabu-Tatsu and the Members Dining Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is the first time that Hida beef is available here in the States, so if you’re a meat aficionado like me, you should definitely hit one of these places and give it a try. This stuff is expensive though, so make an occasion out of it.
I tried the beef in four different preparations: (1) sliced raw, nigiri sushi style, and then kissed with the scorching flame of a blowtorch; (2) seared edges, a tatami trio, with three different kinds of salt; (3) “Hoba-miso” style, stone grilled with miso sauce; and (4) chopped raw, tartare or ceviche style, with citrus and uni. Despite all the marbling, the meat doesn’t come off tasting very fatty, like some highly marbled cuts do. It didn’t leave a coating of waxy or fatty residue on my palate like certain cured salamis with high fat content. And it didn’t cause the flavors of whatever I ate next to change or taste different due to that fat, which is sometimes the case with aged beef and cured salami. In short, it was really a very pleasing experience.
I’ll start with my favorite preparations: (2) and (3). The tataki trio was essentially three slices of Hida beef (strip loin), each dressed with a different salt element: yuzu soy sauce, sea salt and a special red salt that had hints of spice to it. All three were great, but I think I liked the classic sea salt topper the best.
The hot stone grilled preparation, Hoba-miso, was the only one in which the beef was cooked through. This dish is local to Hida. The sliced beef is placed on Hoba (a big Magnolia leaf) with miso and scallions, which then sits directly on the surface of the hot stone. As you can see, the before and after photos of this method indicate that this beef can be thoroughly enjoyed fully cooked if you’re one of those puss-bags who is afraid to eat raw or under-cooked meat.
Fully cooking the beef did not take anything away from the meat. You still get that buttery smooth texture and melt-in-your-mouth flavor characteristics. In fact, the leaf and miso bring nice flavor accents to the beef that compliment it well. This, too, was a strip loin cut of beef, and it was presented to eat on grilled sticky rice patties.
Here’s the chef, Abe Hiroki, who was grilling these delicious morsels to absolute beef-paradise perfection:
The torched nigiri style reminded me slightly of spam musubi, for the sole reason that it was a warm meat item served atop sushi rice. Here, you can get a real, unadulterated taste of the beef in all its marbled glory. It truly is spectacular.
I’ve been eating aged beef for so long that something this pure and clean really blew me away. This was strip loin as well.
This was the sushi master behind these perfect pieces of nigiri:
Finally, this tartare or ceviche style came dressed with a citrus yuzu sauce and was topped with uni (raw sea urchin). Absolutely stunning and decadent. The reason I am interchanging tartare with ceviche is that, typically, ceviche involves fish and citrus, while tartare features meat and egg yolk. Since this dish had elements of both but not all, I figured I’d split the baby. Tarviche? Why not. Also strip loin.
The event also showcased some nice sake selections with flavors ranging from dry to sweet, traditional to aromatic and fruity.
In fact, the event began with a “breaking the mirror” ceremony on the casks of sake, as well as a sake toast.
The governor of Gifu was even in attendance, introducing the beef, the region and the customs to the audience.
The restaurant itself is beautiful, and I look forward to coming back to try some more of this amazing beef. Every preparation was 10/10 for flavor, and I highly recommend it.
EN JAPANESE BRASSERIE
435 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014