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Steak in the heart

2014-01-22 15:59 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Si Huan
Beef filet is the signature dish at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Shanghai.

Beef filet is the signature dish at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Shanghai.

Eating at fine dining restaurants is sometimes not fine, but overwhelming, with difficulties over table manners, dress codes or the way to pronounce those peculiar French and Italian names on the menu. At Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Shanghai, however, the only thing that would overwhelm diners is the immense sense of southern US hospitality, beginning with over-sized portions for meat lovers.

Founded in 1965 by a single mother of two in New Orleans, the steakhouse opened this outlet on the historical Bund early in December, the first of four openings planned by the upscale steakhouse chain in Shanghai and Beijing. While the location and the breathtaking view are touted as the "sauce" of their signature steak, the restaurant takes more pride in its generous offerings of food.

"When you come to Ruth's Chris, please come hungry," Stanley Ko, president of the decades-old steakhouse, warned before the lunch kicked off.

I was a bit ashamed, like joining a marathon without doing enough to warm-up, or attending a black-tie party in a sweater, as the aftertaste of my breakfast still lingered on my palate.

The sense of guilt didn't last long, fortunately. The finishing touch of brandy from the French onion soup, our starter, quickly washed it away - and excited my taste buds for the meat feast to come.

The highlight of the meal, the steak, makes a confident arrival at the table. The dark, charred eight-ounce petite filet is displayed in the center of the white plate, with no sides or sauces.

A small bite unveils the beauty of this simple presentation. The word "juicy" is not adequate to describe this most tender cut of corn-fed premium beef. The meat, cooked medium-rare, resembles a fountain, with juice bursting from every single bite. And the trademarked plate heated to 260 C makes sure the meat stays warm till you finish your last bite, which is unlikely to take long as it's so divine that one just automatically brings the meat to the mouth.

Standard sides, including sauteed mushrooms, creamed spinach and French-fried onion rings, are served separately and cost extra. Do try the bracelet-sized onion rings, which are perfect, crispy complements for the steak.

The dessert menu can be overwhelming after an already expansive meal. There is the caramelized-banana cream pie, the warm apple crumb tart, the chocolate sin cake, to name just a few of the sweet, seductive temptations.

My choice was the New Orleans cheesecake, served with fresh berries and topped with sweet-and-sour cream. I finished half of the house-made dessert, as large as my face and looking more like a birthday cake for a party than an after-meal dessert. I wrapped up the other half for a late-night snack and next morning breakfast.

After that I am almost reluctant to eat cheesecake - not because I had too much, but the velvety sweet has hit my tongue so unapologetically and unabashedly that it would be very hard to top. Yes, it is the cheesecake of the year.


Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Room 02, 4F, Bund No 5 Building, 20 Guangdong Lu (Road), Huangpu district, Shanghai. 021-6071-4567.

Average cost per head: 600-800 yuan ($100-130).

Recommended: Sizzlin' Blue Crab Cakes, French Onion Soup, Beef FIlet, French Fried Onion Rings, Cheesecake with Fresh Berries.

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