As much as people like surprises, they also love familiarity. Harlan Goldstein knows his clientele – and his clientele know him. And, at his newest venture, Strip House, it’s all about boldly-flavoured, tried-and-true American combinations. With lipstick red walls, heavy black chairs and pictures of pin-up girls, you could say it has décor to match.
Although Harlan says Strip House isn’t just a steak joint, it only seems natural to go for beef as your main course. To balance this out, we opt to start with seafood – crab cake ($208) and lobster bisque ($148) to be precise. The crab cake is chock full of sweet, fresh crustacean meat and sits on an addictive sherry mustard sauce. Around the sides are three tiny dots of mango salsa, the fruitiness of which pairs perfectly with the crab. We only wish there was more of this. The bisque is rich with the umami of the sea but we also find this a little too thick and creamy, almost as though it were made for tossing through pasta.
Next up, we share the wagyu porterhouse for two ($1,280). At 35oz though, this could easily be shared between three. When you’re in the mood for a big hunk of meat, it’s hard for a glorious thing like this – neither too fatty nor too lean, served on the bone, with a beautiful char on the outside – to disappoint. There is room for tweaking, however. The steak is served carved and an obvious amount of beef juices run on the plate. A longer resting period after coming off the grill would help retain more of juices. The light flavour of the meat may also put some beef lovers off. But the sauce rectifies this. Of the six choices, we choose au poivre, which is a rich, scrumptious gravy with a generous amount of black pepper.
For dessert, like the big and bad Alaska ($108), the sizzling brownie ($98) with the cakey square served on a hotplate and chocolate sauce poured at the table, is more fun in theory than reality. Still, if you’re in the mood for big flavours and even bigger plates, you won’t be caught with your pants down at Strip House. Janice Leung
5/F, Grand Progress Bldg, 15-16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, 2521 8638; www.striphousehongkong.com. Daily midday-3pm & 6pm-late. Dinner for two: around $2,000.