In a city where food trends can make or break a restaurant, large, old-school dining places are becoming rarer. Famous US steakhouse chain Lawry’s is one of the few high-end franchises remaining on Hong Kong Island. For its 12th anniversary, Lawry’s is paying heed to its Asia location, but swapping the usual wine for a prime rib and sake pairing (4 courses at $899/person; available until 30 November 2018).
There is a fine-dining supper-club feel to Lawry’s, which is located at Hutchinson House right by Central, Admiralty and Wanchai. The decor – velvet chairs, linens and gold panelling – may seem a bit outdated, but it was quite cosy dining at this spacious art-deco-styled restaurant.
Soy-glazed grilled octopus
Perhaps a nod to the chosen tipple, the meal started with an Asian flair: soy-glazed grilled octopus. It had a pleasant chewy texture, and though a tad salty, its umami flavor went down well with the Born Tokusen Junmai Daiginjo.
Despite the promising start, the lobster-tail salad had the strange sheen of a model-food dish and was a bit of a let-down. Its blandness made me sad for the crustacean that died in vain, and the slimy bits of romaine and fennel seemed hastily cobbled together, as if the salad course had been an afterthought. I would recommend not spending the additional $60 and opting instead for the Granny Smith crab salad, which I heard tell was much better. The one plus of the lobster salad was the Tenju Chokaisan Junmai Daiginjo it was served with, which had a refreshing minerality.
But the lacklustre salad could be excusable – the real test would be the entrées. For the main dish, diners have a choice between the Anniversary Cut roasted prime rib au jus, chargrilled Saga Wagyu A4 sirloin strip or baked miso-glazed salmon with petit pois.
Thickly sliced, accompanied with a generous scoop of mashed potato and Yorkshire pudding and drowned in a pool of gravy, the prime rib was Lawry’s money shot. Served medium rare – perhaps a little too pink for more squeamish diners – the roasted prime rib was undeniably American: juicy and almost the size of the plate. The flavour and buttery texture lived up to its hype – for anyone craving a good piece of American-style steak, this would be it.
Saga Wagyu A4 sirloin strip
Taste-wise, I slightly preferred the Saga Wagyu sirloin strip, which had a richer, drier taste. I was impressed by how easily my knife cut through the marbled centre. I could see this strip suiting a specific Asian palate, as its umami flavour could survive even a well-done degree of doneness. I appreciated the sides of wine-braised mushrooms and rocket, but I could see this dish being a little meagre for a heartier eater, especially compared to the prime rib.
As much as I wanted to order the baked salmon, I didn’t – vetoed by an incredulous “Ordering fish at a steakhouse?” – and seeing the pale pink slab on a fellow diner’s plate seemed to validate my decision of not ordering seafood here, especially after my lobster-tail salad experience. But my smugness was completely destroyed when my fellow diner exclaimed it was the best salmon she had ever tasted. For the sake of research, I had to try it.
Moist and lightly salted, the salmon was shockingly good. Baking it with a salamander grill helped to retain its firmness without making it too flaky, and while I couldn’t taste the miso glaze, the red onion sauce was a nice, jammy touch. The undoubted dark horse of the luncheon, the salmon is something pescetarians and even meat lovers should consider, especially because its sake pairing of the Kubota Hekiju Junmai Daiginjo was my favourite of the three main courses.
The meal finished on a high with a return to pleasing the Asian palate: a French-Japanese inspired île flottante matcha turron – matcha-flavoured meringue with dark chocolate cream and crème anglaise. It was served with Kuroushi Shitate Yuzu Liqueur. Although the yuzu flavour was a bit strange paired with the chocolate, it was my favourite sake of the night.
Shop 201, 2/F, Hutchison House, 10 Harcourt Road, Central, 2907 2218
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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