Restaurant review: Beef 101 class at Buenos Aires Polo Club, Hong Kong
Beef 101 with new Executive Chef Angie Ford
If you haven’t been to Buenos Aires Polo Club yet, it’s Black Sheep’s Argentinian steakhouse located in LKF Tower. Like most of the restaurant group’s offerings, it’s gorgeously decorated. This one has lots of equestrian accents, sporting memorabilia, and a general old school club vibe. Think dark wood floors, forest green leather banquettes, velvet curtains, and too many paintings of horses to count. The staff are also always friendly, knowledgeable, and attired very smartly. You don’t have to ask me twice to go back, but I was glad to have an extra opportunity to go and attend a Beef 101 workshop hosted by new Executive Chef Angie Ford.
Chef Angie is a Canadian who’s worked all over the world, most recently in Sydney. She was also Top Chef Canada winner René Rodriguez's sous chef on Iron Chef Canada 2018 (how cool!). Now the passionate nose-to-tail expert is back in Hong Kong and hosted the workshop to share more information about the different cuts, textures, and temperatures of steak. Here is a cheat sheet of what we learned.
Where does the beef served at Buenos Aires Polo Club come from?
The restaurant only serves grass-fed beef from General Pico, Argentina’s premier open-range cattle station in La Pampa Province. The cows are naturally reared on the rolling, fertile grasslands.
What’s the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed steak?
Given the above, grass-fed steaks generally have less marbling and a sweeter, uniquely mineral flavour when compared with grain-fed steaks.
To be honest, I used to be part of the camp that preferred grain-fed steaks for the richer, fattier flavour but can understand the appeal of grass-fed. It’s healthier for both the environment and my body, and the leaner flavour means I can eat more of it.
How is the steak cooked at Buenos Aires Polo Club?
All steaks are cooked on a simple wood-burning iron grill using the traditional asado method. This method cooks indirectly. Rather than placing the meat directly over the flame, it is first seared on the hottest part of the grill to give it a caramelized crust. Then it’s moved to the side and develops a smoky flavour as its internal temperature rises slowly.
What seasoning is used?
A dried chimichurri ‘club rub’ is used to cure the steak overnight. The flavour of the rub and the quality of the meat means guests likely won’t need sauce but all steaks come with the four house sauces: chimichurri, salsa criolla, Malbec mustard, and a creamed horseradish.
What is the right temperature for your steak?
Did you know that ribeyes ($378 for 12oz), and bone-in ribeyes ($648 for 24oz), are best cooked medium? Prior to this workshop, I did not and always ordered mine medium rare! Chef Angie suggests medium is actually better as it gives the fat more time to melt resulting in a tastier, juicier steak.
I suppose some people might order medium rare instead of medium in case their steak gets overcooked and they’re actually served something closer to medium well. But the team here are experts. Also, they ensure steaks rest for 30 minutes before cooking (getting it close to room temperature for even cooking) and rest for 5 minutes after cooking (to reduce the amount of juices that escape when slicing and thus ensuring a more juicy steak).
As for tenderloins ($388 for 10oz) and sirloins ($348 for 14oz), these cuts are best cooked rare. I’d never ordered my steak rare before for fear it would feel too savage but was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was delicious with char around the edges and a tender centre.
Surprisingly, my favourite cut of the workshop was the sirloin. I thought it was richer in flavour than the tenderloin and not as overwhelmingly fatty as the ribeyes. Good news since we had many sides still to try...
A la carte dining
After the workshop, we had a chance to try some Argentinian steakhouse favourites from the a la carte menu.
Both the chicken empanadas ($78) and the spinach and provolone empanadas ($78) were wonderful. If I had to choose one though, I’d go with the spinach and cheese as it was extremely fragrant and generous with the garlic.
Another excellent choice is the hamachi ceviche ($238). The fish was melt in the mouth and there was a nice smokey flavour from the corn and some zingy spice. Both the chunks of tomato and avocado were very ripe.
While both the eggplant escarbeche ($98) and heirloom tomato salad ($98) were refreshing, I felt the tomato dish went better with our meal which was very meat-heavy. A bit lighter and punchier.
And because we were being spoiled, we were treated to some chateaubriand ($748 for 16oz, serves 2 people). This cut is the middle part of the tenderloin. It was cooked wrapped in cheesecloth and had a stronger seasoning than the steaks.
The fries provenzal ($98) fried in duck fat and seasoned with fresh garlic and parsley were a crowd pleaser.
Buenos Aires Polo Club is definitely a steakhouse that’s both passionate about what they’re doing and experts at their craft. In addition to the great food, they also have a number of Argentinian wines and inspired cocktails on offer. Sommelier Tamara and her team will be able to explain further, though I highly recommend her suggestion of the Felino Malbec (mildly oaky and plummy, $128 per glass) with the sirloin. You also can’t go wrong with the Largaron cocktail (with Argentinian rum, champagne, and mint) to start.
7/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham St, Central, 2321 8681
*By invitation for Foodie