Top four steak frites restaurants in Hong Kong
Where to go for authentic French steak frites? Here's our guide
An entrecote craze is sweeping Hong Kong. Entrecote usually means a rib-eye served in the most Parisian of presentations, steak frites: a chargrilled steak, served alongside a pile of crispy French fries, bookended by a simple salad of walnuts and greens with a tart vinaigrette and a dessert. The French serve their meat with buttery bearnaise. We stopped by Hong Kong's best entrecote joints, from the classic W's Entrecote to the newest Paris import Le Relais de L'entrecote and ordered a medium-rare steak with all the trimmings at each. We judged each meal on the meat's tenderness, the char, the sauce, the salad, the fries and of course, the taste.
L'Entrecote de Paris
3/F, 46-48 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 3182 0105
This open and airy dining room on Wyndham Street enjoys lots of natural light and great music. It's a pleasant place to enjoy a lunchtime steak frites. HK$268 will get you a green salad with walnuts, trimmed entrecote steak with "famous sauce" and French fries.
Cook: the meat was undercooked and, oddly, was sliced horizontally - resulting in thin, slimy dark red ribbons of very rare meat which were hard to cut and chew.
Char: there was hardly any char visible on the meat and no discernable char flavour.
Flavour: the meat wasn't well seasoned and was swimming in sauce so it was hard to judge.
Sauce: we were reminded time and time again that the sauce is a closely guarded secret - "I could tell you but would have to kill you" - but we guessed it was a mix of capers, shallots, lemon and herbs. The result is bright green, and strong - and a bit unusual - in flavour. It's not served on the side; the steak is submerged in it.
Salad: the greens were very fresh and crisp, and the vinaigrette with very good olive oil was the best of the bunch. The whole salad contained only three small pieces of walnut.
Fries: too crunchy outside and not at all fluffy inside. Their uniform cut and colour, along with the texture made some of us think they may have been frozen.
Note: although it wasn't our favourite for steak, L'entrecote du Paris did serve our favourite bread, and our favourite dessert, a light and lovely Paris-Brest.
48 Peel Street, Central, tel: 2880 0248
La Vache! has been packing in crowds of meat lovers since it opened last November. Its straightforward concept is obvious from the menu: there's one choice, priced at HK$258: "Trimmed entrecote steak (10oz rib-eye) with special house sauce, French fries and green salad with walnuts." The cavernous underground setting is charming without being over the top. Well, perhaps it's a bit over the top -they do have their own La Vache! toilet roll.
Cook: the steaks are a perfect medium-rare.
Char: the meat has a lovely char which provides a nice crust and smoky flavour all the way through.
Flavour: the steak itself is very juicy, tender and flavourful. It is well trimmed, and though you don't see any fat, you can taste it in the meat. Those used to dry-aged steaks will wish the meat had a bit more "funk".
Sauce: it was too sweet. So much so that some of us avoided using it altogether, while the rest stirred in some mustard to cut the sweetness.
Salad: this was a bit of a disappointment. It was underdressed and the greens could have been fresher. The walnuts were toasted, delicious and served in nice big pieces.
Fries: of the three reviewers one thought the fries were too salty, one thought they were under-seasoned, and one thought they were perfect. They had great texture, though, especially inside. Could have been a bit crisper but they were still our favourite.
Holiday Inn Express Causeway Bay, 6/F, 33 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay, tel: 2506 0133
W's Entrecote is a Hong Kong institution. This classic has been serving steak lovers for 20 years. Now in its second location, the Holiday Inn in Causeway Bay, the vibe is laid-back and without pretension; it felt familiar even for those of us who were visiting for the first time. "Char-broiled rib-eye steak with W's herb butter sauce and all you can eat fries" is served with a choice of "French green salad with W's vinaigrette". There are two steak options: Australian wagyu (HK$268/6oz) or US Angus (HK$348/8oz). Of course, we tried both.
Cook: the Angus was a perfect medium-rare, but the wagyu was a tad overdone.
Char: both had good char, the wagyu had a slightly thicker crust.
Flavour: as to be expected, the wagyu was more tender and juicy, with a fattier more decadent flavour, while the Angus had more of a beefy, grass-fed taste and a tougher chew.
Sauce: the mildest of all, W's herb butter sauce didn't add much to the overall flavour. One reviewer thought it tasted watered down, while another appreciated its subtle charms.
Salad: nice with very crisp, fresh, and flavourful greens but the walnuts were slightly astringent.
Fries: these were our least favourite. Limp and brown, they were soggy and lacklustre and hadclearly been cooked in oil that was too cold.
Le Relais de l'Entrecote
222 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2891 9080
This authentic Parisian transplant clearly spared no expense in completely transforming the space previously occupied by Chez Patrick. The dark wood, white walls, French posters, and multicoloured tablecloths make for a cheerfully Gallic lunch spot. Due to circumstances beyond our control - the restaurant's grill malfunctioned on the day we were supposed to visit - we were forced to break our rule about going incognito a few days later. The service was stellar and all our whims attended to, but it's hard to know if that's the typical customer experience.
Cook: a perfectly pink medium-rare. However, it arrived lukewarm and by the time we were served the second portions they were cold. We all appreciated the thick cut, though.
Char: this wasn't bad and imparted a slight smoky taste to the steak.
Flavour: we all agreed the steak was tender with a good beefy taste.
Sauce: this proved divisive. Some of us said it was their favourite - garlicky, fresh and pungent. Others were put off by the amount of oil. By the time it came to our table it had already started to separate, which was off-putting. It improved after being mixed with Dijon mustard.
Salad: one of the best - evenly coated with a freshly made mustardy vinaigrette, with nice bitter micro-greens - though lacking crunch - and a generous sprinkling of chopped French walnuts.
Fries: most of us found the fries limp, under-seasoned and overcooked. One of us quite enjoyed them and happily finished the entire portion.
And another thing ...
The Butchers Club Deli
16/F Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, tel: 2884 0768
Steak Frites By The Butchers Club will open in Soho in December. In the meantime, we must mention The Butchers Club Deli's new Friday night steak frites promotion. It is worth making a reservation to see what all the fuss is about. They forego the conventional entrecote experience in favour of what they call the "big beef experience" (HK$650). It's a gut-busting — in a good way — procession of blue swimmer crab cakes with sriracha aioli, indecently thick 40- to 50-day dry-aged, grain-fed black Angus steaks, a mixed leaf salad with balsamic dressing and hand-cut, triple-cooked duck fat Idaho chips, finished off with organic, house-made dark chocolate cheesecake and vanilla ice cream. The only downside were the fries, which were soggy and tired. That said, we still ate them because the bearnaise sauce was our favourite, as were the apple tarragon ketchup, and beer and horseradish mustard. A great meal, and a fun night out, but not your traditional entrecote experience.