My Culinary Tour: Stellar Steaks February 11 2016 1 Comment
I love a good steak and I've eaten it on four different continents. I've had steak at both world renowned steakhouses, chain steakhouses, and lesser known restaurants. So below I will give my assessment of where to get the best steak. However, my disclaimer is that I have not eaten at every steakhouse in the world so take this with a grain of salt.
A few months ago, I was watching the documentary Steak Revolution and they RAVED about Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn, NY (they also have a location on Long Island). So I asked Santa for a gift certificate to the steakhouse for Christmas and called in January in order to make a dinner reservation. Unfortunately for me, Peter Luger is so popular that the next available dinner reservation (except for the 4:45pm or 9:45pm time slots) wasn't until March; however, I was able to get a weekend lunch reservation in February. We ordered two steaks, one Brooklyn Lager beer, one ginger ale, one dessert, and two sides, and the bread was tasty and complementary. Our bill was $180 + tip. My assessment: the steak was cooked impeccably and the service was stellar, but the food didn't knock my socks off, especially given the price. The sides at Ruth's Chris are better; however, Peter Luger has better steak.
South America, particularly Argentina, is well known for its high quality steak. So when I went to Brazil, I was excited to try some and it didn't disappoint. I went to Porcão Rio's in Rio de Janeiro and the quality of the meat was stellar. Unfortunately, we went at night so we weren't able to enjoy the wonderful view of the waterfront and Sugarloaf Mountain. I've since been to Brazilian steakhouses in the USA including Texas de Brazil (Addison near Dallas), Ruth's Chris (Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale), Chima (Ft. Lauderdale), Fogo de Chão (Philadelphia), and Fernandes Steak House (Newark), and none of them came close to the meat quality and flavor of Porcão Rio's. I guess Brazil has access to better quality cows. However, I'll give the medal of "Favorite USA Steakhouse" to...Fernandes Steak House (considering the price). But if your culinary skills are on point, I highly recommend buying steak at Florence Meat Market in the West Village, NYC and cooking it yourself. Their meats are AMAZING.
The BEST steak I've ever had was the Kobe steak from Gyu-An restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo. I chose Gyu-An because foodies said that it had the best Kobe one can get for a reasonable price. Many of the best Kobe Steakhouses are $300 a plate and I didn't want to spend that much money. I dropped $140 USD on that meal and it was worth it. Even though the portions were small the steak was magnificently flavorful (no seasoning or steak sauce needed) and it melted in my mouth. Kobe is definitely worth trying at least once. Note that there are VERY FEW Kobe beef distributors in the USA and Kobe is expensive, so if you see "Kobe" on a U.S. menu for $30, they are pulling your leg.
I want to also mention that the best seasoned steak that I've ever had was at a quaint restaurant in Prague located close to the U.S. Embassy. I went prior to free international data phone plans and tagging places on Facebook, so I cannot remember the name of the restaurant and I couldn't find it on google searches. I remember that my travel companion and I walked down the street where the U.S. Embassy is located and there was a fork in the road. The restaurant was just past the fork. I've included a throwback photo below so if you recognize the restaurant, please share its name in the comments section. We had one bottle of wine, two steaks, one dessert and two sides, and our bill was $40 USD. A great bargain for what we got.
So here's a categorical synopsis of the best steaks that I've had:
- Freshest/Highest Quality Meat=Porcão Rio's in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Best Seasoned=Unknown restaurant near the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic
- Best Flavor/Taste=Gyu-An in Tokyo, Japan
- Best Steak in the USA (for the price)=Fernandes in Newark, NJ, USA
Me, circa 2007, at a restaurant in Prague near the U.S. Embassy that had the best seasoned streak I've ever had. If anyone recognizes this restaurant please share in the comments.