Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Meat Sweats at Butchers Club Deli

I have been in some pretty epic meat comas in my life, but one particular meal gave me proper meat sweats. The Butchers Club Deli in Aberdeen is the second product of The Butchers Club which first landed on our shores in April 2013 in Tin Wan, Aberdeen as HK’s only dry-ageing specialist and a multi-purpose venue- butcher’s, private dining room and cooking class space. The Butchers Club Deli along with the newly established Butchers Club Burgers, serves the growing number of hungry carnivores in HK who are now a little more savvy about their beef.

Butchers Club Deli

Butchers Club Deli

There’s nothing I love more than loft spaces in industrial buildings, and the Deli’s location on Wong Chuk Hang Road is ab fab. It is actually in partnership with ED1TUS, a men’s luxury fashion and lifestyle showroom and together they take up the entire 16th and top floor of the dodgy looking Shui Ki Industrial building, reminiscent of the kind of space Sarah Michelle Gellar and her crew got their knickers in a twist in, in IKWYDLS (that’s I Know What You Did Last Summer– yes I’m old). That being said, once you’ve got over the uneasiness of riding in an old lift that has seen better days, the behemoth 7,0oo sq ft space, of which the Deli takes up 3,000, greets you. A large dining area, private dining room for maximum 14 diners, big kitchen, dry-ageing room, deli counter, wine cellar AND an enormous rooftop which gives you a lovely view of Aberdeen does make one feel like hauling ass and moving over to get in on this space action. There’s also a Harley Davidson motorbike randomly parked inside. Manly stuff. Owner Jonathan Glover must be grinning like mad about this venue, especially as the 7,000 sq ft rooftop will eventually become a herb garden with BBQ and can accommodate up to 500 people on top of the 300 person capacity downstairs.Butchers Club Deli Butchers Club Deli

View from the rooftop

View from the rooftop

If a bus ride and a change of scenery is up your alley, then the Deli can offer you a great lunch from 12-5.30pm daily. By night however, the place becomes an extension of the private dining room of The Butchers Club in Tin Wan where it’s all about the dry-aged beef. If you are a keen cook and want to entertain in the comfort of your home, you can select a 7-10kg piece of rib eye or sirloin Black Angus beef and wait for it to be dry-aged by the Butchers Club folks for 30-45 days and hey presto, you have your own dry-aged steak.

The night of epic meat sweats was by kind invitation and the tasting preparations had begun early with me sensibly deciding to have a bigger breakfast and a light snack for lunch. I should have worn my stretchy pants that day, rookie error. We were able to try most of the items on the lunch menu plus the steak which is only offered in the evenings as part of a set menu, as is seen at Tin Wan branch.  (For your information, the steaks at dinner are usually sold by the primal- the whole piece, not by the steak, so the price will depend on the weight of the primal.)

We eased in with a Caesar’s Salad. “Salad?!” I hear you cry. Ahh, but this came with lovely thick-cuts of grilled bacon, the kind of bacon which I wish came with my All Day Breakfasts in HK as opposed to the measly, shrivelled rashers. The rye croutons, bacon and anchovies is a delicious, salty medley of textures and a carnivore’s idea  of a veggie dish.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

The Butchers Board – a stupendous, glorious looking selection of artisanal cured meats, cheese, pickles and breads is apparently for two to share, but I’m pretty sure I could pack this baby away on my own. That night we had corned beef, ham hock terrine (this was terrific), homemade sausages (less of an impact on my palate) and salami which miraculously kept appearing on my fork- I have no control over my hand, it’s like a nervous tick. Could do with more pickles though, but that’s just a gherkin/pickle fiend talking.

The Butchers Board

The Butchers Board

The next item, well, can only be described as SOUL DESTROYINGLY GOOD. The Deli Poutine with duck fat fries, homestyle gravy, pastrami and aged cheddar just destroyed us. Destroyed our stomachs that is. We all loved it so much that we nearly forgot we had several dishes to plow through after. I blame the poutine for the mega food coma that ensued. The duck fat fries were omnomnomnom– no words. Thick-cut, crisp outside, fluffy potato on the inside, thick gravy, cheesy goodness and of course, pastrami to make this a Butchers twist. This may not be a legit poutine, but ahhh who cares. We bantered a bit with Exec Chef Aarik where he said that the poutine was practically a salad dish because of the sprinkling of parsley. I’m not about to argue with a chef.

The Deli Poutine

The Deli Poutine

Bellies swelling, we welcomed the NY Style Corned Beef Deli Sandwich on rye bread, served with crisps. This sandwich was positively ginormous. The corned beef was of a similar quality to the salt beef I know and love so well from the UK. I also liked the quirky way of serving the sandwich with Burts British Potato Chips.

NY Style Corned Beef Deli Sandwich

NY Style Corned Beef Deli Sandwich

Their Dry-aged Steak, Ale and Wild Mushroom Pie, served with duck fat chips was excellent and hearty. The beef was chunky, succulent and the stew flavour robust and rich. Possibly one of the best pies I have had in HK to date.

Dry-aged Steak, Ale and Wild Mushroom Pie

Dry-aged Steak, Ale and Wild Mushroom Pie

The only dish that I can say was a tad disappointing was the Fish and Chips with mushy peas and tartar sauce. Whilst I could easily say this is due to it being the only non-meat dish, I do think the batter is what let this down that evening. The barramundi was cooked perfectly but the batter was sadly soggy in places and detracted from the overall taste. Those duck fries made another appearance though, so not all was lost!

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

The pièce de résistance  was the 90-day dry-aged Australian steak, cooked to medium-rare perfection and served with an array of condiments, with the most popular being the chimichurri, though I was quite partial to the Béarnaise and gravy. The beef had an intense flavour and was just sublimely tender. We were all stuffed to the rafters so two of us got to spirit away steak leftovers (I had a steak salad with my leftovers the day after, which was incredible).

90-day dry-aged Australian steak

90-day dry-aged Australian steak

90-day dry-aged Australian steak

Condiment selection

Condiment selection

At this point, the meat sweats were starting and my regret at not wearing stretchy pants was building. But, we had two desserts left- the Chocolate brownie cake and the Homestyle apple crumble pie with cheddar cheese. The chocolate brownie cake was rich but not dense and a delightful sweet end to our meat fest. The apple crumble pie was unusual as it had surprise chunks of cheddar cheese, which, frankly speaking, did very little for the dessert except confuse my taste-buds, though I concede the savoury/sweet contrast was interesting. But the crumble itself was good.

Chocolate Brownie Cake and Apple Crumble with Cheddar

Chocolate Brownie Cake and Apple Crumble with Cheddar

And there it is,epic meat sweats chronicled. I literally had to hold my belly on my way home and sat on my sofa at home for 3 hours, stock still, watching crap TV to digest.

My thoughts on the Butchers Club Deli? Bloody brilliant. I loved it. Loved the meat, loved the fries, loved the space. Prices are reasonable at lunch with starters between $70-80 and mains $120-140. Yes, it may be on Wong Chuk Hang Road, but I think the meat is well-worth the trek. If you can’t be bothered to go that far and burgers are your thing, then it’s just lucky their latest venue is in Wan Chai. I’ll be visiting very soon, watch this space.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

$$-$$$$$$$$$$ (Lunch prices) 

The Butchers Club Deli, 16/F, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, 2884 0768

www.butchersclub.com.hk

This was by kind invitation- many thanks to The Butchers Club.


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I got no Blues at this Butcher

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 steakhouses, such as Bistecca, Morton’s , Ruth’s Chris, to name a few, it’s a quagmire for the average diner to choose where to go to sink their chops into a hunk of flesh. I’m not a steak addict. I’m a total carnivore however, but my meats of choice are pork and lamb. For me, as long as my steak is medium, has enough burnt bits round the edges, has some fat and is still juicy, I’m a happy girl. I’ll be the first to confess that I’m not the most ‘discerning’ when it comes to steak!

Blue Butcher interested me a great deal 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 with a walk-in dry-aging room, which is carefully positioned at the front of the dining area like a piece of modern art-work 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.I managed to squeeze in a hearty meal at Blue Butcher before its official opening. Upon rocking up, I noticed that it doesn’t have a sign yet, so if it wasn’t for my friend, I would have blithely walked past 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, (who all sport cool hairstyles and look like they’ve leapt from the pages of a Rock ‘n’ Roll magazine), are a flurry of activity in the kitchen and it’s clear they all get on like a house on fire and are passionate about the dishes. Chef Danny is vibrant and personable, (I will be eternally grateful to him giving me one out of the last eight mini-sliders at the opening party!), and judging from his creative menu, is 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, the major steakhouses wow with their meats but don’t quite maintain their standard with their starters. I adored the pigs head terrine, which I saw, with interest, was served with pickled onions and a smudge of mustard. The mustard really made all the difference to the chunky meaty flavour and 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 one of the dishes was the US Kurobota Pig Belly & Cheek, Lentils and Granny Smith Apple Slaw. This, together with the Dutch Veal Cheek & 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 I asked for, 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 said before, if it’s cooked the way I like it, I have no complaints, and the meat was succulent.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.  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 applaudable combination and whilst I enjoyed the crumble, I prefer my apple crumbles with chunks rather than slices of apple (but perhaps that’s the Brit in me). The Eton Mess a little messy in terms of flavours. The basil sorbet completely overwhelmed the delicate meringue and cream and both would be better served individually. The maple tart got my seal of approval and it was mostly down to the lemon whipped cream which 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 dishes which 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 will be their ‘signature’ dishes, but if they keep the standard up, it could well end up being more than half the menu! Make sure you try their cocktails, I hear they’re a blast.

We all got a goodie bag at the opening: pretty cute, especially the world’s smallest tin of sea salt. 

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

Blue Butcher, 108 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2613 9286

$$$$$-$$$$$$$$$$ (Including drinks)

Interior shot of Blue Butcher courtesy of internet