In a fast-paced city like Hong Kong, the “out with the old and in with the new” syndrome seems almost like a natural-as-you-like daily mantra. But when the “old” is a legendary establishment like Club JJ’s at the Grand Hyatt, then the “new” better be good enough to fill its shoes. Thankfully the Grand Hyatt Steakhouse manages to do just that. Taking over the former JJ’s and Thai & Grill space, the new restaurant is outfitted with a classic Hollywood movie set in mind. Dark woods, leather banquettes and heavy drapery make the backbone of the interior. The main dining room overlooks the hotel mezzanine level while several smaller areas (including two private rooms) offer a more intimate dining experience. A towering art deco statue stands centre stage of the main bar, surrounded by oil paintings, tulip lights and a long salad station. It’s grand, but not garish. And in a refreshing move, the sound system streams 70s rock classics (imagine The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac with your beef) instead of looping The Best of Sinatra.
With the food, the menu is simple – no fanciful, foamy dishes or fusion touches – just straight-up, stripped-down, classic American steakhouse cuisine. To start, the seafood platter ($850 for two) heaps together half a Maine lobster, cracked king crab legs, clams, mussels, prawns and an assortment of oysters lazing on the half shell (including Fine de Claire, Coffin Bay and Belon on the night we visited). Short of a slightly over-boiled lobster, everything on the ice smacks of the sea’s delectable briny sweetness, especially the plump mussels, which are coated in a film of garlic dressing. Another app worth digging knife and fork into is the house smoked salmon ($140). This arrives as a wide plate blanketed with thick folds of orange-pink fish. Punctuated with capers, watercress and quenelles of sour cream, the salmon carries a subtle grassy flavour, courtesy of the German pine wood it’s smoked over. In an art-worthy finishing, the whole affair is decorated with quail eggs cooked so delicately that the yolks remain creamy pools of brilliant yellow when served.
Moving onto the main act, the restaurant keeps its menu focused by offering only three types of beef – Nebraska USDA prime beef, Canadian Heritage Angus, and Japanese wagyu. Culinary execution here is near flawless and every slab is grilled to an exacting level of doneness. Requested at medium rare, both the USDA tenderloin ($380 for 8oz) and rib eye ($390 for 18oz) arrives with meat that springs back at the slight pressure of a fork like a freshly baked sponge cake. The flash-seared, smoky crust yields to a rosy red centre that still drips with raw meat juices. Paired with green peppercorn and brandy sauce (delicious but not entirely necessary) and a smear of homespun truffle mustard (absolutely addictive), it’s truly delectable stuff, especially with a heaping side of sweet potato fries ($65). The flavour isn’t as pronounced as we’d hoped, but this is where the bone-in Canadian Heritage cuts fit in. And with any luck, the chefs will also consider adding dry-aged steaks to their repertoire once the restaurant is in full-gear. After all, if they can grill up a steak as flawlessly as they do the tenderloin and rib eye, give them a piece of dry-aged beef and we’re sure they’ll blow it out of the water.
Desserts also stay loyal to the classics with chocolate mud pie à la mode ($85), cheesecakes ($90) and tall, spiked sundaes ($90). If you’re not too full from the steak fest, go for the mango-coconut steakhouse sundae – a cheery concoction that mixes fresh diced mango, coconut cream and cachaça into a high tower of homemade, soft-serve vanilla ice cream.
The Grand Hyatt Steakhouse is a solid restaurant in every respect. It’s a space that values carefully pegged down techniques over gimmicky pomp. Of course, there’s still room for the restaurant to develop, but for now, it’s already well on its way to become one of the best steakhouses in town. Dorothy So
Grand Hyatt, 1 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai, 2584 7722. Mon-Sat 6pm-10.30pm. Closed Sun.
Seafood on ice $850
House smoked salmon $140
8oz Nebraska USDA tenderloin $380
18oz Nebraska USDA rib eye $390
Sweet potato fries $65
Mango-coconut steakhouse sundae $90
Ten per cent service charge $191.50
Total (for two) $2,160.50
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Grand Hyatt, 1 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai
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