French-Japanese steakhouse BIFTECK has launched a new four-course weekend brunch menu ($580/person) where you can choose your own adventure – Le Voyage du Wagyu or Le Voyage des Fruits de Mer – depending on whether you prefer beef or seafood.
Talented chef Ken Kwok, whose work experience includes Michelin-starred VEA, Beefbar and Wagyu Takumi, has always looked to bring something unique and surprising to the HK steakhouse scene, and he has certainly done it again with this brunch.
There’s something whimsical about choosing your “voyage”
The BIFTECK brunch offers a free-flow option of two hours of Languedoc sparkling rosé Mas de Daumas Gassac Rosé Frizant 2019 ($188/person), a supremely easy-drinking sparkling wine that feels like champagne. But there’s no need to opt for free-flow if you’re not in the mood – the BIFTECK wine list is extensive, with plenty of wines from all over the world as well as a number of sake options.
As advertised, three small dishes arrived bento style with each menu, starting our journey:
- Seafood set: Manila clam salad, grilled Japanese squid salad onigiri, tomato salad, salmon roe and dashi jelly
- Wagyu set: Wagyu amaebi roll, beef tartare onigiri, tomato salad, salmon roe and dashi jelly
The summery tomato salad comes with both sets. It showcases lovely, gazpacho-like flavours with bursting salmon roe. We especially enjoyed both the grilled squid salad onigiri and beef tartare onigiri; the rice has a pleasant, chewy texture on the outside and is enjoyably spiced throughout with a light touch of chilli. It goes well with both toppings, with the Wagyu being understandably richer and more pure in flavour.
The pretty Japanese crabmeat udon soup is bright orange from using sea urchin to make the broth. The soup is topped with Japanese red crab and Australian blue swimmer crab and, in a nice touch, is lightly seared with a blowtorch before serving. Bonito flakes dance in the heat of the soup as it’s being poured. This actually feels like a cross between a soup and a pasta dish – easy to finish and much lighter than we had expected it to be.
The Wagyu oxtail udon soup, prepared shabu-shabu style, is spectacular. The soup is a bone broth, with the colour coming from the marrow, but without the oil you might expect. It’s topped with tender, intoxicating shredded oxtail meat and a slice of precious snow-aged Wagyu. This soup is probably not going to be Insta-famous, but we will return for this delicate, wholesome broth with just the right touch of richness from the melty Wagyu and oxtail.
Optionally, you can add on a decadent taco for $100. Made in-house, the shell is actually layers of fried wonton wrappers that taste like Jatz crackers (an Aussie fave). The sashimi taco contains Hokkaido scallop, prawn and salmon with tiny diced green pepper (but no wasabi) and mayonnaise. The Wagyu tataki taco is like steak tartare, but with added diced tomato and mayonnaise and without the mustard (or wasabi) heat. Both tacos are delicious, however, with high-quality ingredients like this, we couldn’t help but feel they could be done more simply, to shine without the mayo or high cracker-to-filling ratio.
The main course for the seafood lovers is a whole New Zealand scampi, an enormous HK scallop in chilli butter and Hiroshima oyster tempura served on a spiced oyster reduction.
On the Wagyu side, the cut of meat that we were really looking forward to trying was the slow-cooked Kyoto Princess sirloin served with a bone-marrow reduction. This relatively new type of Wagyu is from older female cows that have been pampered for a decade, resulting in a lower fat content whilst retaining a tender texture, and BIFTECK is one of only two places in Hong Kong to offer it.
However, the sirloin is outstaged by the unassuming shiso and seaweed tempura of A5 Kobe wine Wagyu. Our notes at the time include “melty McMelt face”, “beef Wellington but also deep fried ice-cream” and “teeth not required to eat”. Like everything we enjoyed at BIFTECK, the seasoning was spot on, and the deep umami flavour of this incredible beef shone through alongside a light complement from the shiso and accompanying red pepper pureé.
We cornered Chef Kwok just to talk about the tempura. He told us that the wine Wagyu is first dynamically rested (turned regularly) somewhere hot until just before serving, when it’s then wrapped in shiso and seaweed, battered and flash-fried three times. The goal is to not overheat the beef to ensure it does not continue to cook whilst waiting on the plate to be eaten. Given it is a small piece (it could never be big enough for us), it wouldn’t take much to overcook it.
You may safely conclude that we preferred the Wagyu Voyage, through no real fault of the seafood.
Still reeling from our out-of-body tempura experience, we moved on to the slightly savoury desserts of sakura shrimp and Wagyu ice creams. The ice creams themselves are creamy but unobtrusive, adorned with various components to build flavour. Admirable and beautiful, but for dessert, the shrimp taste and texture in particular were not for us.
This brunch menu is all about quality over quantity, and we fear the Seafood Voyage might not be enough food to satisfy a big eater. An order of fries would complement this menu, and you can order them à la carte if you so desire.
Le Voyage du Wagyu has the advantage that beef is naturally richer and more filling. It’s a unique and diverse showcase of different cuts of Wagyu and styles of preparation by a thoughtful and experienced chef. The oxtail udon soup and devastatingly good wine Wagyu tempura are the types of dishes we can’t stop thinking about. Don’t miss out!
23/F, QRE Plaza, 202 Queen’s Road East, Wanchai, 2246 8805
RELATED: More brunches to love right now!
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.