DRY AGED BLACK ANGUS BURGER
- Dry aged Black Angus beef patty
- White cheddar cheese
- Heirloom tomato
- Truffle mayonnaise
- Toasted Scottish bap bun
And after a short break, the hunt for all things delicious here at The Bon Vivant In Yellow continues! This time, with a piece about my journey to Hong Kong and the steakhouse with some of the the most exquisite grub hubbub – Blue Butcher! Tucked away on the quieter antiquarian Hollywood Rd. just before things get crazy with the bar scene of Lan Kwai Fong, Blue Butcher is a place where the prices are high, the steaks are dry… aged, the decor is eclectic, and the ribbons are blue. This multiple story venue doesn’t hold back when it comes to decoration, so prepare for knives stuck in walls, a very Chambre des Secrets-esque bathroom, neon signs, dimmed lights and just in general the entire steakhouse is very tastefully decorated in a way reminiscent to a New York-style speakeasy or something of the sort.
The place is perhaps best known for its steaks and as the pioneer of dry aging meats in Hong Kong, and just the description of the various cuts of high quality meat will make you salivate. Blue Butcher takes the slaughter very seriously, and some of the hand-picked meat selections available are Australian Mayura wagyu sirloin from cattle that was fed grains, chocolate and coconut for at least 600 days; Mann River Farm wagyu; O’Connor grass fed beef; grain fed USDA Prime Beef cuts, all of which are then dry aged in the Blue Butcher’s very own pink Himalayan salt dry-aging room, and you can actually watch said meat dry, because the process is actually open to the public. All of this, of course, come at a price in HKD’s, and the little bill pads at BB have the world “DAMAGE” written on them for a reason.
I went to the Blue Butcher specifically for their Lunch deal from 12:00PM until 2:30PM, which is also when the restaurant’s only burger is available for consumption. Place was entirely empty when we got there, but the tables started filling around 1PM, and we definitely didn’t need to make a reservation. We were seated quickly and then the friendly “Would you like some sparkling water to start?” turned into a 1L bottle of antipodes sparkling water from New Zealand, which may or may not be the “world’s purest water”, though it will definitely set you back a whopping $70, so be prepared. The water was not too cold and with a very mild carbonation for what its worth, and we made sure to drink it all when we saw the “damage”. Also, antipodes is currently only available for distribution in Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and Hong Kong, so.. I mean, if you fancy yourself a water snob, then go right ahead. ‘Nuff ’bout water, though.
The “BUTCHER & FRIES” lunch deal ($180) includes a buffet of assorted salads, your choice of meat and all you can eat fries, which you can spruce up with black truffle and Parmesan cheese ($30) or melted Mozzarella & Cheddar cheese ($20), and various options and dessert are extra. How good of a deal the endless fries are will depend on you, though, because the lunch window is pretty small, but at least the fries are good! The five kind of salads were pretty great, though I’m not here to talk about leafy greens. Let’s cut to the chase.
My first rant this time is about the name of the burger, I suppose, and it’s not because the name is bad or too hard to say. No, the Dry Aged Black Angus Burger at least really tells you what you’re getting, and maybe you don’t need a fancy, creative name when your butcher “meat specialist” steakhouse offers only one type of burger, but looking at the creative cocktail names on the menu it makes you wonder if they could have thought of something better.
Then again, maybe it doesn’t deserve a special name. Whereas the Blue Butcher’s attention to detail and quality in the slaughtering process is evident, the actual execution suffers and does little to showcase the chef’s skills and creativity. Though the DABAB is certainly not your typical burger it is still just a cheeseburger with only the quality of the meat to distinguish it from the rest of the world’s great burger. No thick cuts of delicious bacon or ham, no additional slabs of meat to really make you feel like you are at a butcher’s place. When I requested medium-rare I was told that the chef could only do medium, which was a let down.
The very construction of the burger is all over the place and there is way more bread than meat (again, at a meat specialist), though the Scottish bap style bun was fluffy and tender to the touch and embraces the patty very nicely, and the toasted bits actually add a nice contrast to the softness. The amount of flour on the bun will make you feel like you are about to do some weightlifting. The dry aged Black Angus beef patty was cooked to a perfect medium, but the one big, big, big letdown was that it was not even warm to the touch, really ruining the whole experience. The grind was interesting and textured in a way where certain bites felt like chewing on braised meat, which I enjoyed, but If I was supposed to taste the exceptional nutty notes of dry aged beef I’m afraid that all I really got from the burger was the desperate attempts of the black truffle mayonnaise and the white cheddar cheese to save the day. They were fruitless. I’m sitting here writing this review and nothing in the execution of this burger post slaughter is really worth writing about, which is a shame really. Seriously, the bun was the best part, but this is not a bakery, this is supposed to be Hong Kong’s best steakhouse, and while I haven’t been to any other steakhouses yet I can assure you that this is not the best burger in the area.
If anything, it seems like all the trouble of going through this selection process of meat and then dry aging it was a wasted effort.
And, once again the vegetables were placed on the bottom, rather than on top as is the norm in the West, which is just a curios little tidbit.
The place has an impressive wine and cocktail selection and some of the cocktails are pretty gastronomical and award-winning.
Don’t know about the pairing itself, but my one and only cocktail for that afternoon was chosen simply because of the fact that I’m a fig aficionado and I couldn’t say no to the..
FIG & CHEESE – Black label Scotch, Cointreau, homemade blue fig syrup, compressed citrus, wormwood bitters, sharp blue cheese foam ($130)
I’ll let that sink in. Yes, that’s a classic fig and blue cheese platter turned into a sweet and potent cocktail which is now easily one of the best things I’ve ever had. Hands down.
Lots of beautiful things happening here, though it all boils down to a seamlessly mixed citric sweetness. The scotch does wonders when combined with the fig syrup and its heat really enriches the vibrant, sticky sweet flavor of the fig. What a great mixer for scotch! The Blue cheese foam (a Stilton, perhaps?) floats beautifully on top and does wonderful things inside the glass, giving the cocktail a pretty unique look, and the citrus and fig take the edge off, so this should be a decent cocktail even for those who dislike the Blues. I used the skewered wedge of fig to scoop up the foam and gently stir it back with the boozy part of the cocktail. The Fig & Cheese added a much needed everything to the Dry Aged Black Angus Burger, so if you decide to see for yourself if the hype of the Blue Butcher’s burger is worth it, you should definitely order this cocktail. Wow!
I’ll be honest, had I been allowed to choose from a larger selection of desserts that had more than the Mango & Passion Fruit Sorbet or the Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream ($30), I would have went for something more complex, like a pastry, a cake or something. Boy am I glad I chose the ice cream.
The Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream is definitely the best ice cream I’ve ever had, and that’s saying something. What an amazing treat after a disappointing burger! Its layers of savory and sweet notes reminded me of eating peanuts for some reason, but with the distinctive taste of caramel. As an added bonus, this really added to the lingering aftertaste of the Fig & Cheese cocktail with yet another nice combination of different flavors without any clashing. This was eaten very, very slowly and was a table favorite.
So..? Great cocktails, amazing ice cream, shame of a burger. Would I come again here? Maybe, if just to try some more of the cocktails and only if I’m with friends. The place has a lot of charm to it, it is beautiful, has good music, it is in a nice location full of antique stores, AND has some pretty bold items. I’m very sad that the burger was not up to snuff, but what can you do? Ye can’t win ’em all.
108 Hollywood Road, Central District, Hong Kong.