It’s an utter meat-fest in Hong Kong right now. With Harlan’s Striphouse, Edo & Bibo and now Blue Butcher joining the plethora of existing steakhouses, it’s a quagmire for the average diner to choose where to sink their chops into a hunk of flesh. I’m not a steak addict (my meats of choice are pork and lamb); for me, as long as my steak is medium, has enough burnt bits round the edges, some fat and is still juicy, I’m a happy girl.
Blue Butcher interested me because it presents itself as a ‘meat specialist’, not a steakhouse, which is an attractive concept. Portions are generous and sharing family-style is encouraged.
This New York-style restaurant is the only one in HK with a walk-in dry-aging room, carefully positioned at the front of the dining area like a piece of modern art for diners to gawk at. All produce and herbs are from local organic farms and the meat is meticulously chosen from a variety of sources from around the world.
Blue Butcher doesn’t have a sign yet, so keep an eye out for its shady entrance! Another ‘downside’ for the lazy Hong Konger is its location; it’s on Hollywood Road, between The Press Room and Classified, so you’ll have to pound the pavements to earn your meal, unless you want to incur the wrath of taxi drivers by asking to be taken from the bottom of the escalators! The ground floor is a tiny space for a tiny bar; then a slightly dangerous staircase leads you to the main floor, opening up to display an open kitchen and hefty farmhouse-style wooden tables.
Head Chef Danny Chaney and his team (all sporting cool hairstyles and looking like they’ve leapt from the pages of a rock ‘n’ roll magazine) are a flurry of activity in the kitchen, whilst Chef Danny is vibrant, personable and, judging from his creative menu, a man who likes to make an impression.
As a ‘meat-specialist’, I was extremely impressed by the appetisers or ‘small plates to share’. All too often, steakhouses wow with their meats but don’t quite maintain their standard with their starters. I adored the pig’s head terrine, served with pickled onions and a smudge of mustard. The mustard really made all the difference to the chunky meaty flavour; I forwent the toast, and ate the terrine with only the mustard!
The Spanish ham and egg with asparagus and mushrooms was equally outstanding. My friends and I couldn’t get enough of the ham and sous-vide egg combination and used up all the bread scooping out the leftovers.
The bone marrow served with coarse salt flakes was delightfully rich, but sadly, the marrow itself was on the small side, and in seconds, it was all gone.
We were a big group, so ordering almost everything seemed to be the thing to do! Unfortunately for me, we didn’t order the lamb (I’ll have to go back for that), but the US Kurobota pig belly and cheek, lentils and Granny Smith apple slaw, plus the Dutch veal cheek and sweetbreads with truffled orzo and herb salad, were the most dazzling dishes of the night.
The pig belly and all its fatty goodness was astonishingly tender and melted in the mouth. The tartness of the apple slaw and the lentil stew were a good contrasting accompaniment to the richness of the pork.
My palate couldn’t decide which it enjoyed more: the firmness of the sweetbreads giving way to a wonderful silky taste, coupled with the tender veal cheeks or the fantastic truffled orzo, which was sublimely creamy but surprisingly not that heavy. (I went back to Blue Butcher a second time and was granted a plate of the orzo on its own – nom nom nom).
The slow-cooked maple leaf duck breast was well prepared, and although tasty, in comparison to the rest, it wasn’t a standout dish. We also tried the line-caught sea bass with clams, shrimp and broth which was excellent and showed off Chef Danny’s competence with seafood as well as meat.
The Australian Mann River Farm Wagyu bone in rib eye was a lovely hunk of juicy fatty beef, cooked to a perfect medium. As I mentioned, if it’s cooked the way I like it, I have no complaints!
On my second visit, we ordered the free-range charred French chicken, which arrived in a hot pan with its juices soaked up by the carrots and onions. The simplicity of the preparation makes this a marvellous dish, with no attempts to make it fancier than it needed to be. The chicken was meaty and moist, and would definitely go well with a hunk of bread to soak up the remaining juices and make a mini sandwich!
Out of the five desserts on offer, we had three: the Granny Smith apple crumble with port and walnut ice-cream, the Eton Mess with basil sorbet and the maple tart with lemon whipped cream. The port and walnut ice cream was an applaud-able combination and whilst I enjoyed the crumble, I prefer mine with chunks rather than slices of apple (but perhaps that’s the Brit in me).
The Eton Mess was a little messy in terms of flavours. The basil sorbet completely overwhelmed the delicate meringue and cream and both would be better served individually.
However, the maple tart got my seal of approval and it was mostly down to the lemon whipped cream that paired wonderfully with the sticky sweetness of the tart.
For a newly opened establishment, Blue Butcher has made an admirable first impression on people’s palates. It’s hip and fun, and there are standout dishes that will ensure that it has a regular and loyal following. It’s on the pricier side, but for whacking big portions, perhaps you’ll think the food is worth its weight in pure protein. At the moment, I’m unsure what their ‘signature’ dishes will be, but if they keep the standard up, it could well end up being more than half the menu! Make sure you try their cocktails too, I hear they’re a blast.
Blue Butcher Bar & Restaurant Restaurant 1, G/F & M/F, 108 Hollywood Rd, Central
2613 9286 https://www.facebook.com/bluebutcher
Check out more food-related writings from Michelle on her fantastic blog, Chopstixfix!