Meat-lovers, take note. The steak scene in Singapore is sizzling, with more steakhouses opening and offering a wider variety of premium beef grades from new sources.
No fewer than three have opened in the past two months, with one more - Origin Grill & Bar at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore - opening on Wednesday.
The three are Wolfgang's Steakhouse at InterContinental Robertson Quay; Wakanui Grill Dining at the new Marina One mixed-use development; and 665 Degrees Fahrenheit at Andaz Singapore.
These add to other establishments in the scene such as one-Michelin-starred Cut by Wolfgang Puck at Marina Bay Sands; Morton's The Steakhouse at Mandarin Oriental Singapore; as well as the casual Jack's Place chain of restaurants.
It is no longer about just ordering the usual ribeye or sirloin. Instead, menus now highlight other important factors such as the wagyu grade, marbling score, how long the beef has been dry-aged and whether it is grain-or grass-fed.
For example, the new Origin Grill & Bar will offer a special snow-aged full blood wagyu beef A4 from Niigata, Japan, while 665 Degrees Fahrenheit's menu features halal-certified meats.
Meats aside, chefs are also paying extra attention to having lighter appetisers and side dishes to complement the heavier meaty main course.
Marketing director Ivy Lim, 54, who enjoys dining at steakhouses for special occasions, says: "My usual go-to for steak is Cut by Wolfgang Puck. It's important to have staff who can explain the cuts and grades of the meat.
"I like that the newer restaurants such as 665 Degrees Fahrenheit offer more variety of dishes such as ceviche and carpaccio - a very good idea for a more manageable meal. Then at least I can make it to dessert, which normally comes in big portions, without feeling too stuffed."
Established in 2004 in New York City, Wolfgang's Steakhouse now has 18 locations globally, with its Singapore outpost opening two months ago.
The brand prides itself on its prime USDA Black Angus meat (from $70), which is chilled - not frozen - and flown in to Singapore weekly. The meats are dry-aged in its in-house facility for 28 days. An in-house butcher carves the meat before cooking it at 870 deg C on a grill broiler to seal the meat's juices and form a caramelised crust.
Wolfgang's Steakhouse president and co-founder Peter Zweiner, 52, says: "We prefer to age and cut the steaks ourselves so we are in control of the process and know the specifications of each steak we serve.
"This is unlike the majority of other steakhouses in the business, which mostly buy lower quality, frozen, wet-age, and portion-controlled pre-cut steaks from local distributors."
The meats are complemented with side dishes such as lobster mac n cheese ($25); creamed spinach ($15); and sauteed mushrooms ($18). To start, appetisers include a seafood platter ($50); Wolfgang's crab cake ($38); and Beverly Hills chopped salad ($23). Save space for dessert, which include the New York-style cheesecake, key lime pie and chocolate mousse cake.
In the new year, Mr Zweiner adds that Wolfgang's will introduce new cuts of beef such as dry-aged tomahawk and bone-in filet. The Wolfgang's Experience set lunch - offering a compilation of the restaurant's bestsellers - will also be launched on Jan 1.
He will also continue expanding the brand with an additional outlet in both New York and Tokyo, along with two more in the Philippines.
New markets include Shanghai, Dubai and Limassol, Cyprus.
665 Degrees Fahrenheit
Where: Andaz Singapore, Level 38, 5 Fraser Street; open: 6 to 10pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays and Mondays
Helming the kitchen at the two-week-old 665 Degrees Fahrenheit steakhouse at Andaz Singapore is chef Josephine Loke, 27, who started her career at Pollen at Gardens by the Bay, before working at Tippling Club, two-Michelin-starred Odette and Open Farm Community.
Calling it a "natural progression" to work in a hotel, chef Loke was also instrumental in the opening of its cluster of restaurants called Alley on 25.
665 Degrees Fahrenheit - named after the temperature of the Pira oven and grill which sits in the heart of the open kitchen - specialises in halal-certified prime cuts and sustainable seafood.
This direction is a nod to the hotel's location in the Kampong Glam area, as well as its mission to champion sustainability.
To balance the heavier main course meat dishes, she rolls out lighter appetisers such as yellowfin tuna tartare ($48), with avocado and caviar; prime beef carpaccio ($39), with celeraic and truffle; and Hokkaido scallop ceviche ($39).
Steak highlights include the Margaret River wagyu tomahawk ($160, 1.2kg); Tasmanian MBS 3+ tenderloin ($55, 200g); and John Stone grass-fed, dry-aged ribeye ($49, 350g). The menu is not only about the beef, but there are also other main course options including Dutch milk-fed veal chop ($49++); whole Dover sole in burnt butter ($99++); and Boston lobster thermidor ($80).
For desserts, options include ivory and bitter chocolate mousse ($28) and Baked Alaska ($28) - sans the flambeing with alcohol.
On the menu curation, Andaz Singapore's executive chef Soren Lascelles, 37, says: "We picked the well-established brands of meats which savvy diners have come to know. They also want lighter options to pair with the steaks - such as the Hokkaido scallop ceviche and lime-cured kingfish. That's the direction in which the modern steakhouse is moving."
Wakanui Grill Dining
Where: 04-02 Marina One The Heart, 5 Straits View; open: 11.30am to 3pm (weekdays), 5.30 to 11pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays
The restaurant franchise may be from Tokyo, but Wakanui's focus is on dry-aged Ocean Beef (from $72) and spring lamb (from $42) from New Zealand - all charcoal-grilled over Japanese binchotan, or Japanese coal - as well as Ito wagyu from Kagoshima.
The Ocean Beef cattle are grass-fed for 18 months in New Zealand's South Island, and then go on a specially formulated wheat, barley and maize-based feed for four months. The process is controlled by Anzco Foods, a New Zealand-based meat company specialising in premium New Zealand beef and lamb in Tokyo.
The 86-seat restaurant - helmed by chef Ryohei Kenyoshi - relaunched last month as a franchise under food and beverage company 1855 F&B. The restaurant was formerly located in Boat Quay in 2014.
The dinner menu also features starters using New Zealand produce, such as steamed green lip mussels ($22); hot smoked New Zealand salmon ($24); and New Zealand clam soup.
Wakanui has recently introduced a lunch prix fixe menu ($49), with a choice of starter, main and dessert. Main course options include Wakanui spring lamb half rack; Ocean roast beef (150g, add $12); and hot smoked salmon (add $10).
On bringing the Wakanui franchise back to Singapore, Ms Misa Kinjo, 22, marketing manager for 1855 F&B, says: "After some research conducted a year ago, we concluded that Singaporean diners are receptive to a good steakhouse concept and there was room for another market entrant as long as the quality is good and the price points are attractive. We found that most, if not all, steakhouses in Singapore are focusing on USDA beef, Australia-cut and wagyu. In addition, they also purchase meat from local suppliers."
Origin Grill & Bar
Where: Lobby Level, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore; open: from Wednesday, noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm daily; Origin Bar opens from 5pm to 1am (Sundays to Wednesdays), 5pm to 2am (Fridys and Saturdays)
The recently rejuvenated Tower Wing of the Shangri-La Hotel welcomes a modern grill restaurant on Wednesday.
Origin Grill & Bar takes over the space vacated by the now-defunct Japanese restaurant Nadaman and its design evokes the nostalgia of travelling by train.
The bar is shaped like a train ticketing box framed with velvet curtains, while the restaurant's table tops are crafted like a chess board, with curved rectangular benches made of wood and burgundy leather.
The kitchen is run by Sydney-born chef de cuisine Heidi Flanagan, 43, who has more than 20 years of experience as a chef and previously worked in luxury properties in Europe, Bali and the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean.
Origin Grill offers selected exclusive wagyu options: the 500-day Japanese diet-fed Shiro Wagyu, Marble 9 (available from March next year); and snow-aged full blood wagyu beef A4 from Niigata, Japan. For the latter wagyu, its ageing process requires a consistent internal temperature between zero and five deg C - in a state called seichi - which causes the meat to keep more than 90 per cent humidity, thus retaining its freshness.
Other beef options (from $58 to $198) include grain-and grass-fed Angus and wagyu cattle from Australia, Ireland and Japan, along with sustainable seafood items. Some menu highlights include raw tuna on vegetable and seed flat bread; Black Angus hand-cut steak tartare; grilled Hokkaido scallops with chilli jam; and slow-roasted crispy pork belly.
Appetisers are priced between $22 and $58.
On the menu, chef Flanagan says: "Origin Grill is not just a steakhouse or a place for beef. The menu - which caters to both beef aficionados and amateurs - reflects the land and sea, along with different textures and flavours."
For drinks, head to the bar which offers cocktails inspired by five districts in Singapore - Orchard Road, Chinatown, Little India, Boat Quay and Marina Bay. The cocktail selection ($22 to $26) includes Origin, a spicy gin-based cocktail made with sugar cane honey, nutmeg, pepper, charred pineapple and lime husk wine; and The Pearl, a floral cocktail with Black Forest gin with tofu, elderflower, sea grapes and Mugi shochu.
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