Photo : Long Bar Steakhouse's Tasting of Filet Mignon offers juiciness in every chew
While a slab of steak on a dish may seem simple, many factors contribute to the success of the meat served. A lot depends on the chef or the restaurant, which determines the provenance (where the steer comes from), breed, cut and age of the beef. After that, there is the marination, cooking method, accompanying sides, and proper utensils and ambience to heighten the pleasure of dining.
When handled, cut, aged, seasoned and rendered perfectly, a prime cut of steak is succulent, juicy and a flavour-bomb of unforgettable primal desire. The pleasure is in each flavour-releasing chew.
We no longer have to fly to one of the steak capitals of the world – Scotland, Italy, Japan, the US, Argentina or Australia, inclusive – to source for the best beef stock and the best restaurants. There’s never been a better time to dine seriously on steak in Singapore, where homegrown and brand-name steakhouses have made it their business to bring the good cuts – along with the culture and history – to us.
In no particular order, we serve you the best steaks from the best steakhouses on our shores, loosely categorised by styles:
We can’t start a steakhouse story without a nod to Astons. Founder and ex-Ponderosa chef Aston Soon started the first Astons in 2005 in an East Coast Road coffeeshop, drawing queues for affordable, quality steak. With 19 Astons Express in heartland kopitiams and 12 full-service restaurants, new fans are able to discover the joys of charcoal grilled New Zealand ribeye ($15.90). The latest concept is also a bit of a throwback. Astons Steak & Salad offers a massive salad buffet included into the price of a steak. Aim for the Wagyu grade 6 ($53.90 for 200g), which has all the expected buttery marbling, so much so that the overly starchy sauce is not needed. Soon deserves all his kudos for making steak so affordable, you could eat it everyday.
Barista and founder Keith Loh of Bedrock Bar & Grill certainly learnt from his travels. Bedrock is a clever, polished steakhouse which brings together the best aspects of modern dining, from its beef philosophy – “dry-aged, grass-fed, organic or sustainable” – to the raw-wood panelled dining hall. Businessmen and couples will find the space and service equally welcoming. The highly recommended mesquite-grilled Bedrock Pepper Steak ($79 for 300g) is a gorgeously marbled cap of ribeye with a homemade mellow pepper sauce, while the noticeably leaner Australian grass-fed ribeye lands in at $89 for 400g. If your table wants to go large, aim for the signature Tomahawk (market price), which is an impressive F1 Wagyu long-bone ribeye that’s 400-day grain-fed. The affordable prices extend to an unforgettable truffle oil and Parmesan mac ‘n’ cheese ($20).
Not to be confused with Long Bar – where the Singapore Sling was born – Long Bar Steakhouse is the plantation-décor steak-serving restaurant established in 2000. They are so serious, they only have the best cuts: sirloin, ribeye and filet mignon. The classic old-world feel, along with an elegant dress code, sets the scene for USDA Prime (from $85), Australian grain-fed Angus (from $85) and Australian Full-Blood Wagyu (from $128) from the open kitchen. If you like your meats tender, the tasting of filet mignon ($128) is ideal, comprising 70g of USDA Prime and Angus, and 60g of Tajima Wagyu. For a full-bodied expression, the grain-fed sirloin ($85 for 280g) is a good thick cut steak which is ideal at medium rare, allowing the slight amount of marbling to baste the meat from inside.
The United States-based celebrity chef’s one-Michelin-star restaurant’s first and only overseas branch is – like his home branches – essentially a ‘beef walk of fame’. The stars are as such: USDA Prime corn-fed, Rangers Valley Australian Angus grain-fed (dry aged up to 45 days), Snake River Farms American “Kobe style” Wagyu, and Japan’s Shiga Prefecture Wagyu. When undecided, the house recommends the Rangers Valley porterhouse ($185 for 990g, for two). The servers do a show and tell of the carte du jour (day’s menu), with American beef wrapped in white cloth and Japanese Wagyu in black. The meats are grilled over hard wood and charcoal, and quickly finished under a furious 650°C broiler to seal in the juices. The soundtrack, rightfully, is loud and rock ’n roll – adding to the glitzy palace effect for flashing cash.
This esteemed steakhouse first opened on State Street, Chicago, in 1978 and is still the first premium steak experience for many aspiring diners. Morton's in Singapore is at the 4th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, and makes for a classic dining spot in the Marina Bay area. True to American form, Frank Sinatra croons in the background of this steak restaurant, while extra-large portions of everything appears. The highlight, and rightly so, is the USDA Prime ribeye ($99 for 450g) – a big fat juicy cut with its creamy marbling that needs no sauces or creams. The Cajun version ($102 for 450g) is equally good, with more spice.
This family-run chain chalks up nine decades in the restaurant business, with its elegant Singapore outpost celebrating 14 years. It’s the only steakhouse on our list with a signature roast: USDA Prime rib, aged up to 21 days, is slowly roasted on beds of rock salt. It is then carved and served from the silver carts alongside puffy, golden-brown Yorkshire pudding, Idaho creamy mashed potato and the original Spinning Bowl salad, the latter prepared tableside. The ritual is well-loved, as is the plantation-style wood-inlaid dining room and the signature ‘brown gown’ old-fashioned uniforms with collars and aprons. The Prime rib is served in several sizes; including California Cut ($73 for 160g); English Cut – three thin slices ($83 for 200g); Lawry’s traditional cut ($98 for 285g) ; and the Diamond Jim Brady Cut – extra thick at $138 for 450g. If you prefer to stick to steak territory, they also serve a Prime Black Angus single cut fillet mignon ($78 for 250g) and double cut ($143 for 400g). For first-timers, have no doubt but go for the roast, in the size that suits you best.
At W Singapore, Skirt’s open-kitchen concept displays the Beech brand customised Argentinian parilla – a height-adjustable barbecue grate fired by mesquite wood, which results in smokily delicious meats when expertly wielded. Executive Chef Andrew Nocente has temporarily taken Argentinian meat off the menu, but you can still dine on Creekstone Farm USDA Corn-Fed Black Angus (from $58), and Tajima Australian Crossbred Wagyu (from $35) – dry-aged between 21 to 25 days for maximum concentration of umami. Skirt’s signature is the affordable Blackmore Australian full-blood Wagyu skirt steak ($44 for 250g), a rarer cut that takes well to high heat, its fat rendering quickly to reveal juicy meat. Nocente serves four flavoured salts, and take it from us – the beef salt is worth the trek alone for its incredible umami-packed flavour. In Nocente’s words: "beef multiply by beef equals beef-squared."
Ask head chef Dallas Cuddy of Prime Society about steak, and he’s likely to draw you into a discussion about ethically raised heifers. The restaurant serves only beef from suppliers that do not use growth hormones, including Cape Grimm grass-fed (Tasmania) from $60 , Rangers Valley grain-fed (New South Wales) from $48, Mayura Station Wagyu (Limestone Coast) (from $88).
|This is not all: for more cuts of Singapore's best steaks take a look at PART TWO here|